Courtesy of IRN
A poll conducted on behalf of the Indigenous Resource Network (IRN) has found that a majority of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples living in rural areas or on reserves across Canada support natural resource development.
According to the poll, 65% of the 549 self-identified Indigenous participants – interviewed by phone between March 25th and April 16th – said "yes," that they support of the development of natural resources. Only 23% of respondents were opposed, while the remaining 12% were unsure.
Pleased to co-author this with @ExnerPirot based on recent poll.— John Desjarlais (@johndesjr) June 14, 2021
The narrative dominating media on resource development is often polarized but does it reflect the attitudes of Indigenous Peoples? @IRN_Indigenous dug deeper. 👇🏼#indigenousimpact #impact https://t.co/gY5jUfGYSh
IRN Poll Highlights:
> 65% of Indigenous participants support natural resource development, more than double the 23% who did not
> 54% of respondents were supportive of new resource projects near their own community, versus 26% who were not
> 59% supported the development of mining projects, while 32% did not
> 53% supported oil and gas development, with 41% opposed
> Support for natural resource development was higher for those between 35-54 years of age (70%) versus the younger generation between 18-34 (56%)
> 49% of respondents believed that natural resource development can be done with respect for the environment, while 36% did not agree
> Percentage of respondents who identified the following as an “urgent” priority to help improve the quality of life within their communities:
- 56% – better access to health care
- 55 % – job opportunities from economic or resource development
- 53% – better access to education and training
- 39% – focus on traditional activities such as ceremonies or being on the land
- 36% – better governance
- 33% – increased transfer payments from the federal government to the community
The poll's margin of error for a sample of 549 is +/- 4.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
Polarization Doesn’t Help the Discussion
Co-authors Heather Exner-Pirot and John Desjarlais Jr. discussed the importance of the poll's findings in an official press release.
“In the polarized “environment versus economy” debate we’re having, there’s often an assumption, or an assertion, that Indigenous peoples are mostly against resource development. This is manifested in blockades, protests at legislatures and university campuses, and cries from activists that they stand in solidarity with Indigenous people when they stand against mining, oil and gas, commercial fishing, hydro, and forestry projects,” they said.
Heather Exner-Pirot is a research adviser to the Indigenous Resource Network and also a fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute. John Desjarlais Jr. is Cree-Métis from Kaministikominahikoskak who is also involved with the IRN as a board member and works as the General Manager of Great Plains Construction.
They both expressed their frustration over how anti-resource development activists continue to stand in the way of good jobs and economic security for many Indigenous Peoples, often in the very communities that these activists claim to represent.
“For those familiar with the matter, this has always been a bit puzzling. Resource development is often the biggest economic driver of Indigenous communities, since it provides revenues for nations and well-paying jobs closer to home. Indigenous businesses are 40 times more likely to be involved in the extractive industry than Canadian ones.”
Indigenous Voices Must Be Heard - All of Them
The IRN acknowledges cases of dispute between Indigenous Nations and natural resource companies in Canada. However, Heather and John suggest that when this does happen, in principle it is not always the same as being against resource development.
“The public discussion of the issue has failed to grasp that key distinction: Indigenous peoples are not generally opposed to development; they are opposed to not being included, and they are against assuming risks without reaping any of the rewards,” they continued.
It’s true. Too many times has the narrative surrounding energy projects like the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX), Line 3 Expansion and Coastal GasLink been hijacked by opponents to make it look like these pipelines do not have widespread support from Indigenous communities.
But don’t take our word for it. See what Indigenous Peoples themselves are saying about their support for these very projects:
Let's Support Indigenous Communities
The IRN’s poll shows what many Indigenous leaders have been saying all along: that a majority of Indigenous Peoples in Canada support the responsible development of natural resources.
We think it’s time that all Indigenous voices are heard in the discussion around Canadian natural resources, don’t you?
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