New Poll Confirms that a Majority of Indigenous People Support Resource Development

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CALGARY, AB, June 14, 2021 /CNW/ - The Indigenous Resource Network, a non-partisan platform for Indigenous workers and business owners involved in resource development, commissioned a poll by Environics Research on Indigenous support for natural resource development. 549 self-identified First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons living in rural areas or on reserve across Canada were interviewed by telephone between March 25 - April 16, 2021.

The poll found that a majority, or 65%, of Indigenous respondents said they supported natural resource development, while only 23% indicated that they were opposed. Asked if a new project were to be proposed near their own community, supporters outweighed opponents 2 to 1 (54% to 26%).

When asked more specifically about types of resource development, majorities supported both mining (59% support vs. 32% oppose) and oil and gas development (53% support vs. 41% oppose). The reason for such high levels of support are clear: job opportunities from resource and economic development were tied with access to health care as the most urgent priority for respondents, as compared to other issues including governance, education, traditional activities, and federal transfers.

"This helps confirm what we've seen and heard in our communities. Most of us are not opposed resource to development. We are opposed to being left out," said John Desjarlais, IRN advisory board member. "In particular, the poll finds that best practices in environmental protection, economic benefits and high safety standards lead to increased Indigenous support for projects."

"Indigenous peoples have been using their lands and resources for thousands of years. This is not new to us," stated Arnie Bellis, Chair of the IRN advisory board. "What we want is meaningful inclusion and ownership in the development of our own resources. This will create jobs for our young peoples and provide them with opportunities to develop their intellect."

Highlights from the Environics poll:

  • Support for resource development was higher for working age (35-54 years) respondents (70%) than their younger cohort (18-34 Years) (56%)

  • Indigenous men were more likely to oppose resource development (28%) than Indigenous women (19%).

  • Strong support for natural resource development was consistently higher among those who felt they were well-informed about the topic. However only three in ten (30%) described themselves as very or extremely informed about the topic. More than one-third felt somewhat well-informed (38%), while three in ten did not feel well-informed (30%).

  • Half of respondents (49%) believed that resource development can definitely be done while respecting the land and the environment definitely can, with another third (36%) indicating that it may or may not be possible. Only one in ten (11%) believed being successful at both was definitely not a possibility.

  • Indigenous people were more likely to support resource development if the project: included best practices in protecting the environment (79%), provided economic benefits such as jobs, business opportunities and revenues for the community (77%), had best practices in safety (77%), consulted the community (69%) and received community support to proceed (62%).

  • The percentage of respondents who identified the following as an "urgent" priority to improving the quality of life in their community included: better access to health care (56%), job opportunities from economic or resource development (55%), better access to education and training (53%); focus on traditional activities such as ceremonies or being on the land (39%); better governance (36%); increased transfer payments from the federal government to the community (33%).

SOURCE Indigenous Resource Network


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