Over the past several years, First Nations rights holders have expressed a range of strong interests in clean energy development and related policy issues. Feedback gathered through various Provincial engagement processes, suggests these interests include, but are not limited to:
- clean energy economic development opportunities, including in generation of clean electricity and creation of First Nations public utilities;
- an enhanced and modernized relationship with BC Hydro;
- compensation for impacts of existing hydroelectric projects on Indigenous rights and title or Treaty Rights;
- sharing of BC Hydro revenues;
- reliability of electricity services to First Nations communities. energy self sufficiency, and affordability of BC Hydro bills;
- transitioning rural and remote communities away from diesel generation, and/or;
- alignment of strategic energy policy issues and legislation with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous people, consistent with BC’s historic Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Act (DRIPA).
From September 1, 2019, to May 31, 2020, the Province of B.C., led by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (EMPR), carried out Indigenous engagement on Phase 2 of the Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro (“Phase 2”). The results of the Indigenous engagement is summarized in a report, BC Hydro Phase 2 Review Indigenous Engagement – What We Heard Summary Report (Summer 2020).
The Province is committed to a lasting and meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, including through a fresh and meaningful dialogue on First Nations clean energy priorities. In June 2021, the Province signalled its desire to “engage First Nations to identify and support clean energy opportunities related to CleanBC, the Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro, and the B.C. Utilities Commission Inquiry on the Regulation of Indigenous Utilities”, as proposed action 4.34 within its Draft DRIPA Action Plan.
On May 26, 2021, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and First Nations Leadership Council Executive met and agreed to co-design and co-lead an engagement process consistent with this proposed action. Since that time, the First Nations Energy and Mining Council (as the First Nations Leadership Council’s designate) and the Ministry have worked collaboratively to co-develop a Terms of Reference for the ICEO, and co-planned the initial implementation steps, including a virtual province-wide kick-off event on November 17, 2021.
The jointly designed and co-led ICEO engagement presents the opportunity to explore what some of these economic opportunities might look like for Indigenous participation in order to benefit the broadest possible range of Indigenous communities and meet First Nations’ interests around clean energy, including around economic development, energy security, self-governance, and electricity affordability. The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and the First Nations Energy and Mining Council are also seeking to collaborate with First Nations rightsholders on the development of strategic clean energy policy and legislation, and meaningfully explore and develop policy, regulatory and program support to enable Indigenous participation in the new opportunities of the diverse clean energy sector under this process.
We acknowledge that the B.C. Public Service carries out its work on the territories of 204 First Nations communities across B.C., each with unique cultures, languages, legal traditions and relationships to these lands and waters. We also respectfully acknowledge and honour the Métis and Inuit people living in B.C.
Indigenous Clean Energy Opportunities (ICEO)
This initiative is a collaboration between First Nations Leadership Council, BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council and Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.
Contact ICEO: ICEO@gov.bc.ca