Alberta says it will invest in Indigenous Peoples to build green economy

Alberta discussion resource revenue sharing with First Nations

(Alberta Premier Rachel Notley waves after her government’s swearing-in. APTN/file)

Brandi Morin
APTN National News
The Alberta Minister of Environment said her government is committed to ensuring Indigenous People aren’t left out of plans to kick-start the creation of a green economy.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips stressed Alberta is making a priority of making “meaningful” strides within Indigenous communities on the renewable energy front.

She said that the governments’ nation-to-nation relationship ambitions includes building capacity with Indigenous Peoples in order to engage in meaningful participation and consultation.

“We remain committed to ensuring that we are building capacity in Indigenous communities so that we can build an energy economy that comprises all of energy, not just oil and gas,” said Phillips.

Funding for capacity building spills out into economic opportunities that she said the government wants to ensure Indigenous People have equal access to in the expected renewable energy boom.

“What we want to make sure of is, as we build a greener economy, one based on renewable energy that the new economy doesn’t look like the old,” she said. “In that it does not replicate the social and economic exclusion of Indigenous people that we’ve seen for generations in Alberta and that we are actually meaningfully ensuring economic growth, prosperity, and social inclusion throughout our process.”

No specific amount of money is set aside as of yet for the task. Phillips said they’re still in talks with chiefs and others within governments on how to move forward. However, she did make mention that conversations on resource revenue sharing are happening.

The province recently announced their new climate change strategy bannering itself as a global leader in climate action.

Recommendations by an independent review panel included a section on Aboriginal components which Phillips said she fully supports.

There are also plans to focus on incorporating Indigenous knowledge into the provinces climate change action plan.

“From my department in Environment that has a lot to do with how we ensure that traditional and ecological knowledge is appropriately integrated and used to plan resource development and communities,” said Phillips. “Those are pieces that are very important to my department in environment as we work through a lot of regional planning process and land use frameworks to make sure that not only are we getting the traditional ecological knowledge parts—not only making sure that those are in order—but also to ensure that we’ve got adequate capacity in place for traditional land use, co-managements of natural areas and other ways that we know that we can do better than the previous Conservative government.”

Phillips added that she is serious about implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into her portfolio as mandated to all Alberta NDP MLA’s by Premier Rachel Notley last summer.

Phillips is expected to join Notley at the UN climate conference in Paris that began Monday. Phillips said she will be supporting local Indigenous voices at the international level.

“Because I think that that’s an important way that Alberta and Canada can ensure that we are moving forward in ways that are respectful of Treaty and respectful of the new economy that we’re all building together.”

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