British Columbia legislates gaming funds for First Nations communities
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British Columbia legislates gaming funds for First Nations communities

Mr. Speaker: Member for Saanich North and the Islands. Yes, thank you Mr. Speaker. I’m glad to have the opportunity to stand
and speak to Bill 36, the Gaming Control Amendment Act, 2019. As I said during the 2019 budget process,
this was indeed an important investment that the B.C. government is making in Indigenous
communities. It’s a long time in coming. In fact, from my understanding, this request
for access to gaming funds has been a long-standing one made by Indigenous leaders of this generation
and of past generations. Until the announcement in Budget 2019, successive governments have
ignored that request of Indigenous leaders. We find that today we are now having the conversation
and we’re having the debate about a bill that actually brings this commitment that the government
made in the budget into action through this legislation. It’s basically a $3 billion commitment over
25 years to First Nations communities — funds that First Nations are able to access for
the first time in the history of this province, somewhere between $250,000 and $2 million,
depending on the number of communities that have subscribed to the fund. This is money
that is going to be able to be used for all types of activities that are needed in the
communities. There have been a lot of comments that have
been made in the House so far this afternoon with respect to capacity-building. These are
exactly the kinds of funds…. This is the kind of project that these funds can be used
to support. We know, as someone who grew up on a reserve in the W̱SÁNEĆ territory in
Tsartlip, that much of the funding that comes to First Nations communities is program funding.
It’s very specifically dedicated to certain projects, to certain activities, and the reporting
on that is very tight. The accountability on that money is very tight. This proposal is a proposal that allows for
First Nations communities to be able to access funding through the gaming activities in this
province and to be able to invest that money and put that money where they see fit. This
is an important funding opportunity for First Nations, and I don’t think that it should
be downplayed, the commitment that is being made here. This is money that is going to be consistent.
It’s money that the communities can borrow against. It’s money that communities can invest
on, and it’s certainly a welcome investment being made by the provincial government. The relationship between the provincial government
and the First Nations Leadership Council and First Nations communities is growing and it’s
strengthening. I’m very thankful for that, and I’m thankful for the investment that’s
being made through this legislation and that was made in Budget 2019. That is the total sum of the comments that
I have to this. I look forward to hearing the debate and the discussion as we go further
through this in the committee stage. I just wanted to stand today and to reiterate my
support and my thankfulness, my gratitude. I raise my hands to the government for working
with First Nations communities who have been asking for this. Unfortunately, this has been a request that
has been long ignored and one now that we’re able to say has been able to come to fruition
because the people on this side of the House listened and worked with First Nations to
make this happen. So I raise my hands to government. I raise my hands to the process that has allowed
this to come to fruition. HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM.

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