At the request of Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Andy Scott, Chief Noskiye joined Chief Jim Boucher (Fort McKay First Nation), Chief Victor Buffalo (Samson Cree Band), Chief Strater Crowfoot (Siksika Nation) and Chief Jason Goodstriker in Calgary on July 11 th, 2005 to meet with Federal Cabinet Ministers and Senior Federal Officials to discuss the challenges facing First Nation communities in developing their Lands and Resources.
Minster of Human Resources and Skills Development, Belinda Stronach, Minister of State, Ethel Blondin - Andrew, Minister of Industry, David Emerson and Alberta Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Development, Pearl Calahasen arranged the forum as a sector follow-up of the Roundtable approach to Economic Development.
The Chiefs and the Ministers discussed how aboriginal communities could increase their participation in supplying skilled labour to the critical shortage facing industry in light of the proposed growth in the resource sector. The Chiefs expressed their concerns about the challenges aboriginal communities face in developing economic plans that are driven by first nations and the need to link education to economic development for first nation membership.
Political certainty, equity participation and the timelines associated with conducting environmental assessments were some of the points raised by the Chiefs in discussing the impediments and opportunities related to on-reserve investment. Recent changes to federal policies have drastically reduced the economic funding allocation to first nationšs communities across Canada. Andy Popko, from the Privacy Council commented that many first nations do not have the money to invest but they do have land close to resource development which is a great asset. He also stated that industry requires financial certainty on land leases before making significant on-reserve investment.
Minister Emerson thanked the Chiefs for their input during the meeting and assured them the Government of Canada was listening and would be taking steps to address the concerns expressed.