The province announced $3 billion over the next 25 years to First Nations communities from its gaming revenue. (Black Press Media photo)

First Nations leaders welcome provincial gaming funds

$3 billion allocated over the next 25 years to First Nations communities from gaming revenue.

Money promised by the province to First Nations will be a benefit to local development, leaders in Prince Rupert say.

On Feb. 12, Finance Minister Carole James announced $3 billion over the next 25 years for Indigenous community. The money is part of a commitment from the province to share revenues from B.C. Lottery Corp with Indigenous communities.

READ MORE: B.C. BUDGET – Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Individual communities will have access to between $250,000 and $2 million dollars annually in the form of grants and other funding methods beginning in April, 2019.

“Any funds that come into First Nations communities these days is more than welcome and is helpful to the development of the infrastructure within communities,” said Clifford White, chief of the Gitxaala Nation. “There’s a lot of work that need to be done and this is basically just some supportive dollars that will enable First Nations to do that and address their social issues.”

While the overall amount of money pledged over 25 years is significant, White added that he would like to see more resources dedicated to the economic development and self-sufficiency of those communities.

The agreement to share the provincial gaming revenue comes after decades of work by the First Nations Leadership Council, which is represented by the First Nations Gaming Commission.

The commission is establishing a new B.C. First Nations limited partnership to manage the funding and will be overseen by a First Nations-appointed board of directors.

“Via Budget 2019, we’re taking concrete action to support healthy northern Indigenous communities,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for the North Coast, in a press released statement. “Stable long term funding for remote First Nations like Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, Gitxaala and Gitga’at will provide for investments in self-governance, cultural revitalization and services to make life better for families.”

Shaun Thomas, communications manager for Metlakatla First Nation, said the village also welcomes the announcement.

“Metlakatla appreciates the opportunities that may come from this additional revenue,” Thomas said in an emailed statement. “However, we are still reviewing the details of the announcement and, as such, it is far too early to comment on its potential uses.”

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