Money coming from industry to the communities of Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams are having a big impact on the quality of life for residents, according to Chief Harold Leighton and Mayor Garry Reece.
For Leighton, money from agreements such as the revenue sharing deal signed with the provincial government following exclusivity agreements being reached for developments at Grassy Point is part of moving the Nation out of a system of federal funding that simply no longer works.
“We want to get beyond that. We want to develop our own economies and we want to pay our own way. We no longer want to be dealt with with program dollars that are not sufficient enough to do what we want to do for our communities. We want to move ahead,” he told delegates of the National Aboriginal Business Opportunities Conference on April 30.
“We see many opportunities that aren’t going to stay here for a long time, so we really have to take advantage of it while we can and at the same time protect what is important to our community in terms of our environment.”
Although such agreements were only signed recently, Leighton said there are already tangible improvements in his community.
“Just recently Metlakatla built an emergency response vessel so that if something happens in Metlakatla, and we’re looking at our youth and elders, we can respond to those emergencies. There is always a vessel available in Metlakatla. We’re just building a ball field and recreation park for the Metlakatla people and that is coming from these early benefits… we jut finished construction of a new health centre in Metlakatla. We didn’t have enough money for it, so we used the money from these early benefits to complete the health centre,” he said.
“Those benefits work very well for our community and that is the way we want to go forward. We want to build capacity for our members.”
For Reece, the revenue sharing and partnership agreements are a way of making up for the lack of other payments Lax Kw’alaams would be receiving.
“Everything that is happening in our territory, I always mention that we don’t get taxes. The City of Prince Rupert gets paid taxes, Port Edward gets paid taxes, so the agreements we sign that we get revenue sharing for that to me is part of the taxes we would have been getting,” he explained.
“It is so we can do a lot in our community and it makes a huge difference for our people.”
The comments came during the final panel of the conference and immediately after the two signed a partnership agreement with NCSG Crane and Heavy Haul Service president Ted Redmond to create a new joint venture that will offer crane service on the North Coast.
“Through our combined entity here we are going to have 320 cranes available to the partnership, 1,300 lines of self-propelled modular trailers, 435 lines of hydraulic platform trailers and 300 conventional trailers,” said Remond.
“We have a lot of equipment and we are looking forward to developing the local expertise to operate that equipment.”