A Blueberry First Nation band member and owner of a contracting company in Fort St John wants to form a coalition of First Nations contractors to make sure they get their fair share of jobs for development in the Peace.
With major oil and gas development ongoing in the region — and, of course, the planned Site C dam — Clarence Apsassin wants First Nations to benefit from developments on their territory.
"We are involved in the oil and gas industry at a smaller scale as First Nations. We're trying very hard to break into the industry," he told Daybreak North host Russell Bowers. "All the oil and gas is coming from the north, which happens to be right in the midst of our traditional territory."
Apsassin says he hopes a contractor alliance would help build capacity among First Nations tradespeople who he says have been excluded from the bigger jobs associated with oil and gas development.
- Landmark LNG agreement under fire in lawsuit
- Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline rejected by Tsleil-Waututh First Nation
While there have been promises of jobs in the past, he says those promises have just been "rhetoric."
"That's been going on for decades. They come in and meet with us, we have one or two labourers on a job and they think that's good enough. Well, it's not good enough. We have to be involved in a higher capacity," he said.
"The construction phase, the environmental aspect of that, we are providing, as we're growing, more and more services if we can. But if we're not involved in a higher capacity, how can we make the money in terms of providing better services to the oil and gas industry and also BC Hydro?"
He says that while there have been some short-term opportunities for First Nations people on these projects, he's hoping for more long-term ones as well as apprenticeship opportunities for young people.
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: First Nations contractor says oil and gas projects leaving First Nations behind