As part of Budget 2019, First Nations in British Columbia will have a stable, long-term source of funding to invest in their communities’ priorities. This is through a historic revenue-sharing agreement between the Government of British Columbia and the First Nations Leadership Council.
“The B.C. government is finally implementing a long-awaited agreement to share gaming revenue that will enable First Nations the opportunity to prioritize critically important community issues that have long hindered their beneficial development,” said Grand Chief Joe Hall, former chair of the BC First Nations Gaming Commission.
Starting April 2019, approximately $3 billion over 25 years will be shared with B.C. First Nations, meaning every First Nation community in B.C. will be eligible for between $250,000 and $2 million annually through the agreement.
First Nations communities will determine their own priorities for the funding, which can be used for a wide range of benefits, including: environmental protection, infrastructure, health and wellness, housing, training, economic development, governance capacity, and other uses.
“This agreement will change lives for the better in every corner of the province,” said Premier John Horgan. “It means consistent, predictable and sustainable funding to support critical things every government needs, like improving infrastructure, implementing long-term planning and pursuing development opportunities to address the economic, social and cultural needs of Indigenous peoples on the lands that have belonged to them since time began. This is transformative for people, families and communities, and we’re very excited about that.”
The agreement to share provincial gaming revenue was reached after decades of work and advocacy by the First Nations Leadership Council, represented by the First Nations Gaming Commission, as directed through resolutions by Chiefs at assemblies of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit, and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. The Commission is establishing a new B.C. First Nations limited partnership to manage the funding, overseen by a First Nations-appointed board of directors.
“We are extremely pleased that the persistent work of the BC First Nations Gaming Commission is being realized – revenue sharing on gaming marks an important step in recognizing the economic component to Indigenous inherent title and self-determination to make our own decisions about our territories,” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson from the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. “Next steps are aligning legislative codes and policies to this First Nations gaming agreement and to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Sharing revenue with First Nations communities is an important step that puts reconciliation into action. This agreement is part of B.C.’s commitment to create a new fiscal relationship with First Nations, recognizing self-government and self-determination.
“Every additional dollar into B.C. First Nations communities, including gaming funds, will directly correlate to better living conditions and an improved quality of life,” said Robert Phillips, political executive of the First Nations Summit. “Past studies have clearly shown that such an infusion of new funds into communities annually will measurably enhance the economy of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, supporting the notion that healthy Indigenous economies benefit all British Columbians.”