The race is on to cut carbon emissions. But we can’t achieve our climate and energy goals without first acknowledging the failings of our past when it comes to Indigenous. Indigenous peoples. The clean energy transition must be planned in partnership with these communities, embracing their leadership and ownership of projects.

In the third and final episode of, “Disruptors: The Climate Conversations,” we spoke with two Indigenous business leaders about how to build a just and equitable energy transition.

For starters, Canada’s best bet is to invest more in large-scale renewable energy. That will demand early participation and ownership by Indigenous peoples—and involve making tough social and political choices.

“I think what’s important to remember is that this is an energy transition,” said Mark Podlasly, director of economic policy at the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMP) and an adjunct professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business. “There is a point where we are going to have to stop using a lot of these fossil fuels, but to do that instantly is going to cause enormous pain….so it’s a transition. It’s not going to be instant.”

The only way forward is through ownership, and early, full participation by Indigenous people as decision-makers, the FNMP believes. Comprised of 86 First Nations from across Canada, the group offers input on a range of projects, from solar and geothermal to mining within Indigenous territories.

Indigenous communities don’t want to be caught off guard in the development of new energy systems involving their lands and resources—or to be left with none of the economic benefit. And as Podlasly pointed out, “there’s a lot of hard questions” to be asked about what our energy mix will be.

“There’s a shift in the public attitude where people understand now that a lot of the resources needed to transform our economy are going to come from Indigenous lands,” he said. “The power stations, the geothermal plants, the hydroelectric facilities, the transmission lines, the critical minerals.”

Arguably, no sector has more work to do in meeting Canada’s ambitious climate targets than oil and gas. The biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, the sector is also where we’re starting to see an emerging, more inclusive model for doing business.

So what changes with Indigenous ownership?

“Having our seat at the table gave us huge responsibility in terms of being the landlords of all of our resources and giving advice to developers and builders as to how to safely do it with minimal impacts to our environment,” said Crystal Smith, chief councillor of the Haisla Nation on Kitamaat Village along B.C.’s northern coast, and chair of the First Nations LNG Alliance.

Smith herself has witnessed a methanol plant, aluminum smelter and a pulp and paper mill developed, built and put into operation on Haisla territory while the community sat on the sidelines. Today, Haisla Nation is engaged with the Coastal GasLink project—which will transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat. Haisla Nation are also 51% owners of the proposed Cedar LNG project in Kitimat.

“One of our elected leaders, I believe [said] we just wanted a share and a say,” said Smith. “We wanted a share of the wealth that was being generated. We wanted a share of the employment opportunities that were available. And we wanted to see as to how they were being built, how it was being developed.”

“The only way a smart decision is going to be made is if there’s a wholesome, fully engaged discussion from the beginning about what we’re going to do.”

Speaker 1 [00:00:01] Hi, it’s John. I recently had a chance to spend time in British Columbia talking with a fascinating and eclectic group of people, from energy economists to motorcycle makers, about Canada’s clean energy transition. It’s all part of this special three part series we’re calling The Climate Conversations. In the first episode, I spoke to some of Canada’s leading thinkers on energy and climate issues. And while each came at it from a distinct and sometimes competing perspective, there was a consensus that, yes, both energy and climate security are possible. In the second episode, I took a tour of BC’s Clean Tech Valley and met some of the exciting innovators who are helping shape Canada’s transition to a clean energy economy. These are the entrepreneurs who give me great hope for the future. But we can’t talk about our future or the importance of developing climate and energy security without first acknowledging the failings of our collective past when it comes to Indigenous peoples. Indigenous Canadians are deeply proud of where they come from and who they are. Their traditional territories are vital to their identity, not just to their livelihoods, land, water, sky, shape, indigenous identity. And we need to remind ourselves that energy comes from land, water and sky. So any discussion of an energy transition needs to not only include indigenous people. It needs to incorporate indigenous thinking and indigenous ownership. If we are to truly meet our ambitious climate and energy goals as a country, we need to ensure that all Canadians, but especially indigenous Canadians upon whose lands we live and work, are engaged in this fight for sustainable change. The future of our economy and our country may just depend on it. This is Disruptors. An RBC podcast. I’m your host, John Stackhouse. On today’s episode in the final of our three part series, The Climate Conversations, I’ll be speaking with two remarkable indigenous leaders in British Columbia who are working to transform both our society and economy through innovation, collaboration and an entrepreneurial spirit. After the break, we’ll hear from the elected chief of the Hyslop people centered on Bcc’s northern coast, who’s also chair of the First Nations LNG Alliance. But first, my conversation with a Vancouver based business leader who is helping transform the way indigenous communities conceive and execute projects for a more sustainable future. Mark PUD lastly is Director of Economic Policy and initiatives at the First Nations Major Projects Coalition, which is a national collective of more than 65 indigenous nations seeking ownership of major projects such as pipelines and electric infrastructure. He’s also director of governance at the First Nations Financial Management Board, which is leading the development of an indigenous response to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Mark, welcome to Disruptors.

Speaker 2 [00:03:10] Well, thank you. I’m very pleased to be here, John.

Speaker 1 [00:03:13] I wonder, Mark, if we can start with some reflections on the impact of climate change, because you’re part of a nation and a community in South Central B.C. that has not only been devastated by climate change, but also captured the world’s attention. Maybe you can share a bit of what you’ve you’ve learned from that experience.

Speaker 2 [00:03:34] Well, we are from the into come, which is in central interior, British Columbia, South Central B.C. and we had both of the big climate events of British Columbia hit us within six months. The first was the fire at Lytton. Lytton as one of our communities in our nation where the temperature went to almost 50 degrees Celsius, hottest temperature in Canadian history, and then the place burned to the ground the next day. And then last winter, we had the atmospheric river come through and it hit Merritt, which is also one of our nations communities. And the rivers just washed everything out. There were 38 washouts in both directions up to my community, washed away the reserve where my mother was born. It’s gone completely and Highway eight still isn’t rebuilt. So it’s it’s been a horrific year climate wise for us.

Speaker 1 [00:04:17] And people around the world watched in horror and some said this is why we need to get off fossil fuels immediately or as quickly as possible. And yet many of the communities that were devastated by this are also investing in projects that will continue to ensure that oil and gas get to people in Canada and around the world. How do you balance what some see as a contradiction and others just see as a as a challenge between those two points of view?

Speaker 2 [00:04:47] I think what’s important to remember is that this is an energy transition. There is a point where we are going to have to stop using a lot of these fossil fuels, but in order for us to do that instantly is going to cause enormous pain. We just don’t have the renewables and in the amount we need to do an instant switch. So I think right now it’s a question of smart decisions about which petroleum based assets we will develop and use. The references you’ve made to a lot of First Nations, particularly in B.C., around LNG, LNG as a cleaner fuel than oil. And that is where a lot of first nations are putting their effort right now. So it’s a transition. It’s not going to be instant.

Speaker 1 [00:05:22] What indigenous perspectives do we need to be more mindful of in terms of finding this balance?

Speaker 2 [00:05:28] I think to look at this is that Indigenous people right now are very invested. Some Indigenous people are very invested in the petroleum and the energy sector and there’s a lot of interest right now in developing sources of energy that are cleaner. And I think that’s where indigenous people, at least from the Coalition, are willing and happy to proceed. The question we have is we don’t want to be caught off guard in the development of new energy systems like we were in the past, where they are coming from our lands and our resources and we are not benefiting from that. So there’s a lot of hard questions to be asked about what’s our energy mix going to be. And then for Canadian society about what’s the role of indigenous people on whom our lands are are basically tied to these energy, either in clean energy and hydroelectricity or solar or wind or in petroleum and natural gas. There’s some tough questions that have to be worked out.

Speaker 1 [00:06:18] And what is the role of indigenous peoples in those decisions?

Speaker 2 [00:06:22] We are the owners in many cases of title on these lands and for us to be involved in these projects, it means we have to be involved at the beginning, not at the end. Most industrial development in this country now is done centrally or somewhere. Somebody else decides that indigenous people are consulted at the end. That’s just not going to work in the future, and it’s certainly not going to work under a world of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which calls for free prior informed consent before these projects are developed. Indigenous people have to be informed upfront of what’s being planned or is going to proceed. Indigenous people then will have a say in the planning, the operation, the development and the ownership of many of these projects. What consent comes down to is. Have the Indigenous people been informed ahead of time? Freely given their approval to projects. This doesn’t mean that indigenous people are against all projects. No. The Coalition, for example, we have 85/1 nations across the country who are interested in participating in projects and are interested in smart projects that meet the national goals energy wise and economy and First Nations aspirations towards self-determination.

Speaker 1 [00:07:26] Tell us a bit about the the Major Projects Coalition, how it came about and what it’s trying to achieve.

Speaker 2 [00:07:31] The Major Projects Coalition started about six or seven years ago when 6/1 nations in northern British Columbia had an opportunity to acquire equity in a pipeline project. They then went out to try and source that equity and found that it was too expensive the cost of capital because First Nations the way were organized under the Indian Act. We don’t own our land, we don’t own our assets. They’re held in trust by the government. And trying to actually raise money on assets that you don’t own is a fruitless exercise. There’s just banks wouldn’t do it. So if we could get capital, it would be at the cost of credit card type rates. And that’s just not economic. So the 16/1 nations said, you know what, this is could happen to us again, so we’re going to be ready the next time. So they formed the coalition as a service organization, 2/1 nations, to improve their technical ability to access capital and technical skills and finding people who could assist them prepare for the next deals that would come around. And it’s happened. You’re starting to see it now from those 16 we have grown to 85. The coalition does not market itself. It is all by word of mouth. And these are first nations who are being approached by proponents of major projects looking for commercial partners. And we provide the service to those communities to ask the right questions about going into those projects.

Speaker 1 [00:08:47] What sort of projects are you looking at or communities looking at?

Speaker 2 [00:08:51] There are energy projects, a lot of clean energy projects now, either in hydroelectricity or partial ownership of transmission lines. And those include the gambit of geothermal. Hydrogen is now coming up as as more and more communities are being approached. Transmission lines, pipelines have come up in discussion. There’s railway discussions now about everything from via rail project in Ontario and Quebec to other projects here in British Columbia and sometimes mining companies as well. Mining companies looking to access critical minerals for net zero batteries and car manufacturers. Those are all coming up.

Speaker 1 [00:09:24] When there is indigenous ownership. What what changes?

Speaker 2 [00:09:28] What changes with indigenous ownership? First of all, indigenous people will then be involved at the project from the beginning. So it allows Indigenous people to have more say in how the projects will be built and improved. A lot of times traditional knowledge can be better incorporated into the planning of a land based project. The other side of it is it provides in theory the Indigenous party with a revenue stream which is independent from government for priorities that the First Nation wants to focus on. The other side of this, that changes is it changes the relationship between the proponent and the first nation. Because if a first nation moves into an equity position within a project, they essentially become core proponents. And corporate opponents by nature have given consent. So it’s a win for both sides.

Speaker 1 [00:10:12] The climate transition is going to take a lot of capital. Our research at RBC estimates Canadians will need to invest or mobilize $2 trillion over the next 25 to 30 years. That’s roughly $80 billion a year or about four times what we’re investing in transition activities right now. How can we see more indigenous capital mobilize Mark and perhaps do so more quickly?

Speaker 2 [00:10:38] Well, I’m glad you noted that there is indigenous capital in this country. My community has a revenue sharing deal with a mining company in our territory and when we started to set that up, we did some research to find out how much indigenous capital is there in Canada. And we found just back of the envelope calculations at that time about $8 billion of assets under management by Indigenous people. And it’s not in one spot. It’s different settlements from either land treaties from negotiations with mining companies or energy companies. We figure now that somewhere between 13 and 18 billion my nation has a fund right now of about 50 million. And we have the ability and the fund to make direct placements into investments that that will grow that fund. Most of these nations do. So that capital is there. The question, though, is that how can indigenous people directly invest in these projects? I think for a lot of the financial sector, they don’t see us as Indigenous investors. The idea of being an indigenous investor seems to be an oxymoron to some of these companies who come into territories and don’t think of Indigenous people in that sense. That has to change. You already pointed out the amount of money that’s going to have to be mobilized for the transition, the energy transition. Where’s that going to come from? It’s going to come from Canadian investors, but also outside the country. Canada at the moment needs to attract that investment, and one way to do it is to reduce the risk of these projects. And one way to do that is ensure that an Indigenous people are co proponents are part of the projects upfront. The Coalition did a conference last year on ESG investment standards and we found in the ESG investment standards there’s practically no Indigenous involvement and there’s no Indigenous risk mitigation of the risks that Indigenous people could pose to projects. We’re proposing that no, you bring us in as investors at the beginning, and we will demonstrate by our involvement that that risk is taken care of, and that should improve the ability of the project to raise capital from outside investors.

Speaker 1 [00:12:30] You spent a lot of time, I know, looking at how other countries are progressing with respect to indigenous ownership in in all forms of development. What should we be learning? What can we learn from other countries?

Speaker 2 [00:12:41] We have to think about under the United Nations Declaration, the rights of indigenous people as a worldwide thing. It’s not just Canadian. And there’s a rush for capital to attract those trillions of dollars needed to transform economies. Different nations in different parts of the world have different ways of engaging indigenous people. And in our work we engage with some in New Zealand and in the United States. We also did some checking into South America. Every area is different. Canada has an edge on this and that we are more advanced in the concept of self-determination as being a right of indigenous people. Other nations are also pursuing that path. And what we found is that we have a lot to share with Indigenous people in other parts of the world, but it’s a worldwide competition right now to get these capital dollars into transformative economies. And Canada right now. I’m very pleased to say, is doing better than most countries in the world.

Speaker 1 [00:13:32] What has shifted that has made Canada seen as more of a leader than laggard?

Speaker 2 [00:13:37] I think what it is here is we have a rule of law. We have a very well-developed court system precedents on indigenous issues. Also, there’s a shift in the public attitude where people understand now that a lot of the resources needed to transform our economy are going to come from indigenous lands, the power stations, the geothermal plants, the hydroelectric facilities, the transmission lines, the critical minerals. I have an 18 year old daughter and she knows where the lithium came from in her cell phone and she knows what’s involved in the power generation. When she leaves the lights on, that’s changed here. There’s a massive attitude shift and people’s understanding of what’s involved in driving this economy. I think that’s an edge that Canadians have and we need to mobilize that.

Speaker 1 [00:14:23] Mark. We’ve been exploring through this podcast series the incredible challenges that Canada is facing in terms of finding a balance between energy security, ensuring that we have affordable, accessible energy, and that we’re able to support other countries, especially our allies, with that while facing extraordinary inflationary pressures and balance out with climate security and the race. And it really is a race to net zero. How do you think about these challenges and many more from an indigenous perspective, which often suggests more time is needed if we’re to make the right decisions and we need to think generationally and not be in such a rush. How do you balance that need to really get things done in a hurry and not be wasteful in the process?

Speaker 2 [00:15:10] I bring us back to the discussion of the atmospheric rivers and the fires in Lytton that happened last summer. You’re right, we have limited time now to save the climate and that affects all of us. It’s not just indigenous people versus the rest of the country or the federal government. By 2030, we’re supposed to have shifted most of our vehicle sales 50% anyway in this country over to electric vehicles. It takes more than eight years to build a mine, never mind power stations. We as indigenous people are in this with everybody else. So there have to be, as you said, smart decisions made. And the only way smart decision is going to be made is that there’s a wholesome, fully engaged discussion from the beginning about what we’re going to do. I think what you’re referring to in the in the sense of Indigenous people having longer timeframes for things is true. But our house is on fire and it’s a mutual house. We’ve got to start moving on this. And this is why at the Coalition we’re calling for an immediate discussion on all these projects upfront with Indigenous people at the beginning.

Speaker 1 [00:16:07] Our house is on fire. What’s the one thing you’d like to see happen this year to help us move quicker in the direction we need to move?

Speaker 2 [00:16:16] I would like to see some form of cheaper capital access for Indigenous people to make the investments in these projects to be proponents in them. That will be the number one challenge that we face as Indigenous people to get involved in these projects. We have 85 members across the country in the Coalition. All of those nations have joined because they want to be participants in these projects. And the problem we have is finding capital and that doesn’t mean a giveaway. Indigenous people are beyond that. They’re not looking for giveaways from these projects. We’re looking to have a meaningful involvement in the economy, in the projects, in the net zero solutions.

Speaker 1 [00:16:49] And Mark, I think we should all be saying challenge accepted. That’s something we can solve. Mark, thank you for being on RBC Disruptors.

Speaker 2 [00:16:56] Thanks for having me. I’ve enjoyed this immensely.

Speaker 1 [00:17:01] Coming up after the break, I’ll speak with the elected chief of the Hyslop people who is transforming the economic prospects of her 1900 member nation. So stay right there.

Speaker 3 [00:17:14] You’re listening to Disruptors and RBC podcast. I’m Teresa Do. The world has rightly been consumed with combating climate change for some time, but something changed this year as Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Policymakers across the world were confronted with a more immediate challenge. Energy security. Tensions between energy security and climate change were simmering for some time, but the war has laid bare the vulnerability of global oil markets and the ability of bad actors to disrupt energy supply chains. It’s its domino effect on other commodities and industries has already knocked out global economic growth. Just released a new RBC Economics and thought leadership report called The New Climate Bargain How Canada Can Manage Energy and Environmental Security. To read it, click the link in the show notes or visit RBC dot com slash thought leadership.

Speaker 1 [00:18:10] Welcome back. On today’s episode, we’re speaking about our clean energy transition and how Canada’s indigenous peoples can help lead the way toward greater economic prosperity and sustainable development. And our next guest knows a thing or two about both. Crystal Smith is the elected chief of the Hyslop people, centered on Kitimat Village along BC’s northern coast. In November 2019, she was named chair of the First Nations LNG Alliance, a group committed to encouraging First Nations development of what was then a nascent liquid natural gas industry and providing employment and other sustainable benefits for BC’s Indigenous people. She Smith, welcome to Disruptors.

Speaker 3 [00:18:49] Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1 [00:18:50] Let’s start with your story and what got you into politics is not the first temptation for many people. What experience inspired you to run to be chief of the Haisla people?

Speaker 3 [00:19:00] My stepfather was actually an elected council member when I was in elementary school, and I remember him coming home and talking about a few things that they were working on and that they were focusing on just getting a better understanding of what our chief and council back then did. I grew up admiring him for the accomplishments that he made in his life and didn’t necessarily want to be in politics, but definitely wanted to be a part of the betterment of our people, whether that I worked for the nation or but I always envisioned myself being as an employee or something here with the nation. And then later on, what actually got me into learning about more in-depth was I became the executive assistant to our first female chief councilor, Dolores Pollard, in, I believe it was 2009. And I stayed as the executive assistant until 2013 when Ellis Ross was running for Chief Councilor, and it was actually one of his speeches that he made at the Vancouver Convention Center in his belief of what the work that we were doing with the LNG industry and his vision of what it could do for our people, and immediately told them, I want to become a part of your team. What do you think if I run for council and kind of took the plunge from there?

Speaker 1 [00:20:19] What a great story and a good reminder that the next generation is always watching and wondering if you can share a bit of the Haisla story, because it’s not a well understood story, unfortunately, across Canada. Tell us a bit about what the community has built over the last decade.

Speaker 3 [00:20:34] One thing that I definitely think that is important for people to understand is that while we’re being a part of a new industry, that our nation isn’t the new industrial development overall. We’ve witnessed methanol plant, aluminum smelter, a pulp and paper mill be developed and built and operated in our territory for 20 to 50 years. And essentially we’ve sat on, on the sidelines, witnessed the destruction of our territory, our environment and our cultural resources to being active partners within a process where we had a seat at the table with LNG, Canada and Coastal Gaslink talking about what was important to us, what it means to be Haisla. Having our seat at the table gave us huge responsibility in terms of being the landlords of all of our resources and giving advice to developers and builders as to how to safely do it with minimal impacts to our environment. One of our elected leaders, Heber Maitland, he was a chief councilor in the eighties, I believe termed the saying that we just wanted a share and a say. We wanted a share of the wealth that was being generated. We wanted a share of the employment opportunities that were available. And we wanted to see as to how they were being built, how it was being developed. And today I can proudly say that we’re there as a part of LNG Canada, coastal gaslink and more so now is owners 51% owners of Cedar LNG with our partners.

Speaker 1 [00:22:09] Pembina And in terms of development, what has been done differently because of that share and say.

Speaker 3 [00:22:16] For an example one of our very important cultural resources to to our nation is still a camp. And so the spawning time or the, the time that they would come into the rivers is in between February and March. And there’s not too many other levels of government or any other entities that put a value on the election can. But it’s a huge staple of our Haisla identity. So in terms of the B.C. LNG, Canada was doing some dredging and within that process of doing the permit application, we worked out the issues prior to that permit being applied for so that as opposed to the permit going into the regulators and then coming back to us for our questions, it actually went along with our support when being filed. And that involved no dredging during February and March when the oil can could possibly arrive. So there’s many things like that within the process of what we’ve implemented into the discussions and essentially negotiations.

Speaker 1 [00:23:24] One of the big ideas we’re trying to explore is this challenge that Canada now faces of needing to produce more resources both for Canadians and for the world, and do that more sustainably. We have very ambitious climate targets, among other environmental goals. And at the same time, to pursue reconciliation in more and more meaningful ways. How do we do that, especially in the short timeframe that many people believe we have to reach goals like net zero?

Speaker 3 [00:23:54] Well, for one, for the LNG. Even before ESG became a thing, our team actually sat in in a room in Vancouver for, I want to say, a week to go over proposals for a partner. How much money the nation would make wasn’t a huge priority. The priority was what kind of technology will you use and will you use air cooled or water cooled? We stuck to what we wanted for our environment, and we chose a partner that aligned their visions and their desires with the nation. And actually, I remember throughout that process there was one RFP that came in and that the executives would not leave the topic. And they were very adamant that the project needed to make money. If the project didn’t make as much money as they envisioned, the nation wouldn’t make as much money as we desired. And I had looked at our team and I said, I don’t think this conversation needs to go any further. And the room kind of looked at me stunned. Our team looked stunned. And I said, there’s no compromise. And what we’re saying is that we want minimal impacts. I’m not willing to stand up in front of our community and say we chose money over our environment. And so I looked at the rest of the elected leaders and said, are you willing to do that? And the answer was no when the conversation ended.

Speaker 1 [00:25:16] You’ve said that the Coastal Gaslink project, which will transport natural gas from north eastern B.C. to Kitimat, promises, I think you use the word transformational benefits for the Haisla nation. Can you explain what you mean by transformational?

Speaker 3 [00:25:30] You know, we think about what we’ve been able to do and being a part of a process where, you know, coastal Gaslink and LNG Canada took the time to understand and get to know who we are and why certain circumstances remain the same. And it was because of our past history with industrial development and having proponents come in and, and learn who you are and what you want to accomplish and align themselves of saying, this is where we can help with that vision. Here is where we can help with that goal and being partners within that process and providing resources that necessarily weren’t provided before. We have the lowest unemployment rate right now. If you want to work, you can work. There’s nobody that that doesn’t have an opportunity. So that’s on one level where I’m saying it’s transformational. Analysts own source revenue or funds being generated by impact benefit agreements. We now have the ability to work on behalf of our people. Our chief and council and our staff have that ability to create programs that actually deliver what is required and what is needed. And we’re able to prioritize what is important. Our culture and language is a huge example. I had a meeting last night at dinner meeting, and I’ve got a twin identical twin sister and I was sharing how my day started yesterday. It’s my first day back after two weeks off of work, and she shared an audio recording of her speaking our language. Sorry.

Speaker 1 [00:27:08] No. Take your time.

Speaker 3 [00:27:10] We grew up with our grandparents, and when they didn’t want us to know what they were talking about, they would speak our language. And hearing her speak, it gives me hope that my grandchildren will be able to speak our language and will know exactly what it means to be high. So they will learn our culture. They will learn how to harvest food, they will learn our language. And that is so important.

Speaker 1 [00:27:41] Thank you for sharing that. It’s inspiring, it’s beautiful. And also, I imagine quite challenging for as it is for any community with strong traditions around the world to preserve culture and tradition with respect to indigenous rights. One of the questions is with the concept of free, prior and informed consent, one of the challenges that many see with consent is who it comes from. And there’s much debate, as you know, about the role of hereditary or traditional leaders versus elected leaders, chiefs and council. How do you balance different forms of governance within the community and ensuring that there is concern, but sometimes consent doesn’t come with unanimity? How do you think through those challenges.

Speaker 3 [00:28:35] Regardless of your if you’re a hereditary or elected, you have an obligation to your membership and they are the deciding factors as to who represents them, who speaks on behalf of them and how that looks. You know, some communities are further advanced than others, such as Katla. I absolutely admire their process and how both their elected and hereditary systems essentially work together and how they get to agreements for for their members. Our community said we have the support of our hereditary leaders in regards to the work that the elected leadership is doing right now. Our membership acknowledges that and that the predatory system wants their elected body to represent rights of title. And you know that that process and I honestly reflect back and ask why. And when I listen to our Chiefs speak, it’s essentially to benefit all types of members. They want that ability for for doesn’t matter which family you come from, it doesn’t matter where you live. You deserve a benefit. And essentially, that’s what that that’s their role as well as a predatory leader. It is to look after our land. It is to make decisions that are in the best interests of the land and our people and to share that wealth.

Speaker 1 [00:29:59] We’ve covered a lot of ground here. I wonder if I can wrap up with one last question about economic reconciliation and what you think the rest of Canada needs to come to grips with. For communities like yours and leaders like you to navigate this journey.

Speaker 3 [00:30:16] It’s a process that but we have to be a part of and that it’s putting a lot of responsibility and expectations on proponents and other levels of government. But this process internally has been long, difficult, huge learning curves in terms of what we’ve been a part of. So essentially give some time because it’s not an overnight process. An entity has its shareholders and its board of directors. Our shareholders are 1900 members, and that’s just specifically Haisla and that’s who essentially gives us our mandate of a yes or a no. And that process takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to accomplish. So give the First Nations communities the time and again. Not all of us are the same. Some of us will be a little bit quicker and have had a lot of practice through that process. But give time, get to know the community, get to know what their goals and what their visions are.

Speaker 1 [00:31:14] Time and balance. Those are two key words you’ve stressed today. Christel, thank you so much for being part of RBC Disruptors.

Speaker 3 [00:31:22] Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1 [00:31:27] What an inspiring set of conversations. And I don’t know about you, but it takes me back in time. Actually, about 20 years ago when I was a newspaper reporter, spending a year crisscrossing Canada, engaging with different indigenous communities from Vancouver Island to Cape Breton to the far north, trying to understand this great quiet divide we have in the country between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. And at the time, many of these communities were actually leading an economic revolution, whether it was through salmon farming or hockey franchises or the hotel industry or nickel mines up in northern Quebec. And it was the rest of Canada that was slow to catch on. We’re still too slow. But as we accelerate through the climate transition, it’s time for Canadians to recognize that indigenous communities and indigenous peoples need to help lead this transition. And they can take all of Canada to an incredible place if we partner with them and if we give them the say and share that we heard about in this conversation, that’s the only way that we’re going to get to energy security, climate security, economic security and the kind of Social Security that Canadians have become a model for to the world in previous decades. It’s the only way we’ll be able to build sustainable prosperity for all and for generations to come. That’s it for this time and this special Climate Conversation series. Thanks again to our guests, Mark Podlasly and Chief Crystal Smith. And let us know what you think. Just email us at disruptors at RBC dot com or follow us on your favorite social channels. Join us next week for the latest Tech and Innovation Buzz with our ten minute take series. Until then, I’m John Stackhouse, and this is Disruptors, an RBC podcast. Talk to you soon.

Speaker 3 [00:33:19] Disruptors, an RBC podcast is created by the RBC Thought Leadership Group and does not constitute a recommendation for any organization, product or service. It’s produced and recorded by Jar Audio. For more disruptors content, like or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and visit our social disruptors.

Jennifer Marron produces "Disruptors, an RBC podcast". Prior to joining RBC, Jennifer spent five years as Community Manager at MaRS Discovery District and cultivated a large network of industry leaders, entrepreneurs and partners to support the Canadian startup ecosystem. Her writing has appeared in The National Post, Financial Post, Techvibes, IT Business, CWTA Magazine and Procter & Gamble’s magazine, Rouge. Follow her on Twitter @J_Marron.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.