There are over 200,000 Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Metis, and Inuit in British Columbia (B.C.). For over 10,000 years, First Nations have lived on the land now known as B.C., comprising of 203 different communities, including more than 30 different First Nations languages and nearly 60 different dialects.
The government of B.C. is committed to building true, lasting, and meaningful partnerships with the First Nations and Indigenous peoples in B.C. Many leading companies investing in B.C. have already introduced successful business models based on collaborative relationships with Indigenous governments and, as a result, are realizing improved investment and business certainty. The Declaration Act supports further collaborative opportunities and enables successful partnerships with Indigenous governments.
In November of 2019, the Province introduced the Declaration on the Rights Of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act), making B.C. the first province in Canada, and one of the first jurisdictions in the world, to pass such a law. The Declaration Act mandates B.C., in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to take all measures necessary to bring provincial laws into alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Declaration Act creates a pathway for reconciliation and provides a clear, transparent process for how the Province and Indigenous governments work together to the benefit of all stakeholders. Engaging collaboratively with Indigenous peoples in B.C. as respected partners supports good conditions for de-risking investment, creates certainty and clarity for projects, and advances meaningful societal outcomes for all.
We encourage you to engage with First Nations as early as possible in the planning stages to build relationships and to share information that may support the consultation processes. Our team is also available to help facilitate engagement with First Nations communities in B.C.
B.C. partners with Indigenous peoples and organizations on a variety of programs and services that seek to improve the socio-economic conditions and outcomes in Indigenous communities. These programs and services seek to facilitate Indigenous self-determination through the preservation and promotion of Indigenous languages, cultures and heritage; the advancement of meaningful economic development and business opportunities; and the enhancement of Indigenous governments’ fiscal capacities, among other objectives.
There are many examples of First Nations and businesses working in partnership all throughout B.C. But how do those partnerships develop? What steps were taken to build a foundation of success? In this video, we hear from First Nations and business leaders about some of the keys to partnership development, including communication, consultation, and consensus-building.
First Nations communities in the Cariboo have a population of 9,449 (6.12% of the total population), comprised of 17 different communities . Development corporations— owned collectively by aligned Nations or by individual First Nations— are the primary vehicles by which First Nations pursue and advocate for sustainable economic development in this region.
There are five First Nations communities in the Kootenay region, including the ?Akisq’nuk First Nation, Yaqan Nukiy, Shuswap, ?Aqam, and Tobacco Plains. The Community and Economic Development Department and the Ktunaxa Nation Industry Engagement Officers are working with the communities to build economic partnerships throughout the region, including the forestry, agriculture, energy, and tourism sectors.
The First Nations communities throughout the lower mainland have a population of about 24,475, speaking at least a dozen different languages. There are 45 separate First Nations communities within the region, many exploring new opportunities in trade, finance, and manufacturing sectors.
There are 17 First Nation communities in the Nechako region, comprising about 30% of the region’s approximately 40,000 people. First Nations economic development corporations, owned by aligned Nations or individual First Nations, are working towards sustainable development.
There are 23 First Nation communities in the North Coast region, with a population of 35,299, making up nearly 63% of the region’s population. First Nations play a large economic role in the North Coast Region as both project proponents and stakeholders, developing and advocating for socially and environmentally prudent projects with the goal of improving quality of life in the region.
There are nine First Nations communities in the Northeast region of B.C., with a population of 4,712; approximately 7% of the region’s population of 65,700. The region shares a border with Alberta and the Yukon and is part of the Peace River Basin.
There are twenty-eight First Nation communities in the Thompson-Okanagan region. Multiple communities have formed alliances and organizations to protect Indigenous rights and to promote economic activities for their region, such as the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, the Nicola Tribal Association, the Okanagan Nation Alliance, and the Nlaka’pamux First Nation Tribal Council.
The 53 First Nations of Vancouver Island are in three distinct tribal regions–Coast Salish, Nuuchah nulth, and Kwakiutl–the First Peoples of Vancouver Island. This region is known for its temperate climate, unspoiled wilderness, and beautiful coastlines.
The BCAFN is a progressive and innovative group representing and advocating for the 203 First Nations in B.C., working towards self-sufficiency and vibrancy. Learn more about specific First Nations Communities and the BCAFN’s role in economic development.
Discover the benefits and opportunities of working with Indigenous Peoples and businesses in British Columbia. Connect with a community liaison to learn more.