B.C. First Nations in line to receive around $100M of BCLC's annual earnings
Province aiming to distribute around $3B to First Nations by 2045
The B.C. government is introducing new legislation that would see First Nations receive a chunk of the B.C. Lottery Corporation's annual earnings.
If the amendment to the Gaming Control Act is passed, eligible B.C. First Nations will be provided with seven per cent of BCLC's net income for the next 23 years — amounting to roughly $100 million a year — according to a statement by the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and the attorney general.
The province has already shared $194.84 million with First Nations to cover the first two years of a 25-year agreement, to ensure there is no delay in funding while the amendment makes its way through the legislature.
In all, B.C. predicts the agreement will distribute around $3 billion in revenue by 2045.
All B.C. First Nations are eligible to receive a cut of the money but need to first become members in the limited partnership agreement by contacting the B.C. First Nations Gaming Revenue Sharing Limited Partnership, which is responsible for managing and distributing the money to local First Nations.
"We've been waiting a long time for this," said Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribal council.
"I personally have been involved in trying to get this going for 13 years and it's been at least 30 [years] that First Nations have been doing it. So it's a good day."
Sayers says the money is deeply needed in many First Nations around the province.
It's a sentiment echoed by Robert Phillips, a member of the First Nations Summit Political Executive. He says many Indigenous communities are underfunded and plagued by socol-economic issues, adding the funds "will not only address the issues of First Nations but, as well, the regions around British Columbia."
He says many First Nations have signed up for the partnership since September.
What it can be used on
The province has set out six areas the funds can be spent on by First Nations, which it says will support self-governance:
- Health and wellness
- Infrastructure, safety, transportation and housing
- Economic and business development
- Education, language, culture and training
- Community development and environmental protection
- Capacity building, fiscal management and governance
Sayers says some First Nations have already begun to receive funds from the interim agreement.