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Economic opportunity ends First Nation culture of dependence – Vancouver Sun

Opinion: Councils need to consider chances that can provide members social stability, prosperity

November 20, 2013

In 2003, I was first elected to Haisla Nation Council and I was intent on opposing just about every economic development project coming our way, from fish farms to natural gas. Fortunately, experienced councillors suggested that before I took any hard and fast positions I consider unbiased facts and the community’s social situation.

It didn’t take long before the full extent of our community’s problems hit home, angering and saddening me at the same time. Before my political career, I was one of those who applauded political speeches on unemployment, poverty, independence, and the relationship between First Nations and the Crown. But it was clear that 30 years of speeches and government programs had changed nothing for the average Haisla person who just wanted a job. Unemployment was still at 60 per cent, housing was based on handouts from Ottawa, and, worst of all, substance abuse and suicide were commonplace and were destroying our people’s hopes for a brighter future.

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