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Indigenomics, forestry, and UNDRIP

Carol Anne Hilton: One of the industries that will be most affected by UNDRIP is forestry. But the good news is much of it was already moving in the right direction.

In November, the unanimous passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) signaled change was ahead.

For BC’s forestry industry, it was a call on build its understanding and response. The legislation aims to create a path forward that respects the human rights of Indigenous peoples while introducing stronger certainty, transparency, and predictability.

The legislation sets out a process to align BC’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). In his mandate letter to the incoming Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Premier John Horgan noted the BC government would be “fully adopting and implementing” UNDRIP.

In order to achieve this, a level of honesty is required. The focus of my company is Indigenomics: building the collective economic response to the lasting legacy of the systemic exclusion of Indigenous peoples in this country’s development. It is this truth that needs to be built upon – and that I believe UNDRIP reflects.

So how is that going to actually take place?

In an environment with more questions than answers, it’s important to focus on the productive questions. So instead of wondering how will this impact the forestry sector in a general way, a more meaningful question from within the industry might be what their collective leadership looks like after UNDRIP, in particular through the Forest Act.

It’s important to note First Nations’ influence in the forest industry was already growing. According to the National Aboriginal Forestry Association’s third report First Nation-held Forest Tenure in Canada 2015, “First Nations now hold approximately 10.4% of the national wood supply, an increase of 7.5 million cubic meters or 64% in volume from our last report in 2007, and a 140% increase since our first report in 2003.”

Furthermore, the forest industry already included increasing First Nations participation. A January 2015 BC Forest Industry economic impact study noted that since 2002, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations had signed forest tenure agreements with 175 of the 203 First Nations in BC, and some $324 million in resource revenue-sharing.

However Charlene Higgins, CEO of the BC First Nations Forestry Council, notes many of these agreements followed a “take-it-or-leave it” model; some Indigenous communities got as little as $35,000 as accommodation for impacts from forestry activities in their territories.

Bringing this model of revenue sharing in line with Bill 41 will involve significant changes. Developing those changes is where industry leadership needs to look today.

I am often asked what’s Indigenomics? Think of it as a platform for modern Indigenous economic design, and economic reconciliation. In turn, economic reconciliation is the space between the lived realities of Indigenous peoples, the need to build understanding of the importance of the Indigenous relationship, and economic inclusion.

When it comes to forestry and UNDRIP, it means establishing a business model today that makes sense for all.

This is Indigenomics.

Carol Anne Hilton, MBA is the CEO and Founder of The Indigenomics Institute. Carol Anne is a recognized national Indigenous business leader and senior adviser with an international Masters Degree in Business Management (MBA) from the University of Hertfordshire, England. Carol Anne is of Nuu chah nulth descent from the Hesquiaht Nation on Vancouver Island.