B.C. government to share gaming revenues with First Nations across British Columbia
All First Nations in British Columbia are about to get a chunk of the province’s gaming revenues. The B.C. government announced on Thursday that they would be fulfilling a promise that was made 20 years ago to better share the gaming money.
“UN declaration legislation and gaming revenue sharing are important steps forward to advance true and lasting reconciliation, and create certainty and opportunity for First Nations and the province as a whole,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said.
“Sharing gaming revenues will mean First Nations have the ability to invest in the services and infrastructure healthy communities need — child care, supports for new mothers, housing, road upgrades and economic development to create a better future for everyone in B.C.”
Horgan announced that all B.C. First Nations will receive a share of provincial gaming revenues at the opening of the annual gathering between B.C.’s cabinet and First Nations leaders.
The First Nations Gaming Commission has been in negotiations with the B.C. government over the past year to implement gaming revenue sharing. For decades, First Nations leaders have advocated for a share of gaming revenue.
“Undoubtedly, this is a momentous occasion for all First Nations in the province of B.C.,” Grand Chief Joe Hall said.
“We have worked at this for many, many years and now we have finally arrived at an agreement that will see much-needed revenue from gaming shared with all the First Nations communities of B.C. The countless stories that we heard about how the revenue will make a significant difference in our communities were both heart-warming and inspirational.”
The First Nations Leadership Council and the B.C. government are co-developing new legislation for introduction in 2019 to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in B.C. The sharing of gaming revenues and the new legislation were top priorities set out by the First Nations council to address reconciliation.
It is unclear how much money communities will be getting or how First Nations apply to get the funding. The province has provided $2 million immediately to support and establish a B.C. First Nations gaming distribution limited partnership, which will manage the new revenue.
“We are pleased the Government of B.C. has committed to the implementation of the UN declaration and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, but now we need to put these commitments into concrete actions,” First Nations Summit political executive member Cheryl Casimer said.
“After many years and attempts to create a mutual agenda and roadmap for an improved relationship, and moving substantially forward on reconciliation, B.C. First Nations and the government have finally landed on a renewed vision and plan for reconciling Aboriginal title and rights, with asserted Crown title and jurisdiction.”
— With files from Regan Hasegawa
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