NDP’s Rachel Notley has committed to a renewed relationship between government and First Nation Communities sparking hope in many communities including the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation who are ‘ecstatic about the victory’. First Nations and Métis are one of Canada’s largest growing populations and it is key that government is willing to listen to the concerns of communities from across the province. Alberta’s resource extraction practices have been contentious issues across the world, and this NDP government must be more open to creative solutions like royalty revenue sharing, which has been dismissed by the NDP and the public in the past. With many First Nations already part of the oil industry, it is key that the NDP focus on creative initiatives that will further benefit communities and the sustainability of development.
One of the NDP’s strongest promises is to instate the United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and enshrine it in law. This declaration would act as a visionary policy for the province but would rely on further development of laws to see any real change occur. Change that might help resolve and prevent countless lawsuits from Indigenous communities regarding treaty violations and human right infringements. Rachel Notley has already openly objected to the Oil Sands expanding Enbridge pipeline, which would infringe on the rights of many First Nation communities and has sparked legal battles across Canada.
Time will tell if these promises pan out. We, along with the rest of the province and the world, will be examining this new government these upcoming four years.
Jonathan Ventura is the web assistant with One River, Many Relations. His formal education in environmental policy & law, as well as his passion and experience in community based research and mobilization brings a unique perspective to the project.