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Vancouver, B.C. — A growing, unnamed coalition backed by a Northeast B.C. Indigenous leader aims to support “urgent” climate change action and bolster B.C.’s economy.

The new coalition was announced Monday by the First Nation Major Projects Coalition, chaired by Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Gale, along with the First Nations Climate Initiative and the Business Council of British Columbia.

The unnamed coalition is comprised of Indigenous and business leaders, First Nations, companies, organizations, and communities that “possess the expertise and capacity  to invest and build necessary infrastructure and export B.C.’s bounty of low carbon natural resources, food, and energy products.”

In a release, Gale said that following the UN’s COP 27, the new coalition is calling for increased urgency in making progress in transitioning to a lower carbon economy. She said the road to net zero runs through Indigenous lands.

“Net zero targets will only be achieved through partnerships with Indigenous communities, and achieving this will take a commitment to provide sources of affordable capital and access to the capacity we need to make free, prior, and informed business decisions.”

Founding partners of the coalition include the Canadian Fuels Association, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Shell Canada, and the BC Trucking Association.

Chair of the Business Council of British Columbia and country chair of Shell Canada, Susannah Pierce, said that mitigating climate change requires people to act — both locally and globally.

“COP 27 confirmed that we need more urgency, purposeful action, and collaboration with international jurisdictions supported by practical and nationally aligned policies and partnerships,” Pierce stated in a release.

She said the newly established coalition has the means and commitment to collaborate to get results.

“Action, not talk, when aligned with governments, can immediately and substantively reduce global emissions while sustaining a prosperous society at home.”

Elected chief councillor of the Haisla Nation and founding leader of the First Nations Climate Initiative, Crystal Smith, said that First Nations-led solutions are needed to reach Canada’s and the world’s climate action goals.

“We must begin to implement these solutions, to replace poverty with prosperity and to recover the climate,” Smith began.

“Decolonization and decarbonization go hand-in-hand. We know that our communities and homelands are not isolated from the rest of the world, so we must act both locally and globally. We have many valuable things to bring to the global table and we have an obligation to do this. We cannot look back and wonder why we did not act more bravely.”

Coalition leaders will release a priority action plan in early 2023, which will look to governments of all levels to collaborate on needed policies and supports.

The plan will include goals such as addressing climate change globally and within the province and nationally, advancing meaningful reconciliation and enabling economic prosperity to “protect a sustainable environment” and improving affordability and quality of life now and for future generations.

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Spencer HallInvestigative Reporter

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.