At the 2021 Virtual AGM & Conference of the BC Chamber of Commerce on May 28-29, 2021, the Chamber network passed a ground-breaking policy resolution that calls for actionable steps to move forward B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) legislation.
The provincial government passed its DRIPA legislation in November 2019 to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). DRIPA creates a framework for reconciliation in B.C., in keeping with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and aims to create a path forward that respects the rights of Indigenous Peoples while introducing better transparency and predictability in the work we do together.
The policy resolution, “Creating a comprehensive action plan to build a sustainable business relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” will seek to:
- Engage with Indigenous Peoples and the business community to ensure policies will be effective, efficient and create positive outcomes for Indigenous Peoples and communities;
- Support business through educational and mentorship programs to support policies as they are implemented and into the future;
- Continue to grow sustainable economic projects with Indigenous partners that ensure positive economic outcomes within the Nations, as deemed positive by the Nations, and is supported by non-Indigenous business communities; and
- With all relevant stakeholders, build a comprehensive action plan to build a sustainable business relationship with Indigenous Peoples to align with foundational documents and legislation, being UNDRIP and DRIPA.
For the business community to adopt DRIPA into their business models, there must be an understanding of the importance and value of achieving reconciliation and collaborating with Indigenous Peoples. There must also be an understanding of the very real generational trauma that has been and continues to be experienced, and the importance of community relationships in moving forward together.
The policy resolution passed calls on organizations and business associations across provinces to recommend similar resolutions and pass similar policy calling for action.
“Our members’ approval of the policy this past weekend is a watershed moment,” said Fiona Famulak, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “I am incredibly proud of our network of Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade for leading the way and taking the bold step to approve a policy that not only calls for continued engagement with Indigenous Peoples but, more importantly, calls on the provincial government to work with all stakeholders to develop a comprehensive, actionable plan that will support Indigenous economic reconciliation.”
The policy resolution, submitted in its earliest form by the Prince Rupert & District Chamber of Commerce in 2018, was submitted this year by the Dawson Creek & District Chamber of Commerce, Tumbler Ridge Chamber of Commerce, Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce and the Surrey Board of Trade.
“This weekend was a historic moment for the Chamber network across the province. Collectively, Chambers have agreed on and supported a foundational document that recognizes the necessity of reconciliation. As a north-eastern BC Chamber, we are extremely proud of this resolution and the positive impacts it will create through education, understanding and collaboration. We look forward to the provincial government recognizing the importance of this resolution and actively working with the BC Chamber of Commerce to begin the work required.” – Kathleen Connolly, Executive Director, Dawson Creek & District Chamber of Commerce
“The Dawson Creek, Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge Chambers began working on this extremely important resolution two years ago. We recognize the importance and timeliness of the policy resolution, whose words come from our hearts while work towards understanding and reconciliation continues. We want to thank all of the supporting BC Chambers and the forward thinking of the BC Chamber of Commerce for supporting this ground-breaking resolution.” – Jerrilyn Kirk, Executive Director, Tumbler Ridge Chamber of Commerce
“This policy is an amazing and positive step forward in this time of reconciliation. It is history in the making and we are so very proud of not only our submitting team of Chambers who brought this forward and their hard work, but also for the support from the provincial Chamber network and the BC Chamber of Commerce. Thank you.” – Naomi Larsen, Executive Director, Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce
“The needed economic action plan concurrent with understanding the history of Indigenous Peoples is the foundation of this leadership-oriented policy” – Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade
“It was important for the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce to support a policy that will lead to vital business relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation is one of the most imperative opportunities of our generation. Indigenous business leaders have shown non-Indigenous entrepreneurs there is a richer path to prosperity: one that values place, identity and heritage. We are hopeful that the action plan proposed by this policy will lead to results distinguished by mutual respect and transformation.” – Michael Gurney, President, Prince Rupert & District Chamber of Commerce
The policy was supported by the Fort Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, Quesnel & District Chamber of Commerce, Whistler Chamber of Commerce, South Surrey/White Rock Chamber of Commerce, Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce, Campbell River & District Chamber of Commerce and Prince Rupert & District Chamber of Commerce.