A new B.C. book about economic reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the resource sector lays out steps for individuals, corporations and the industry.
Written by Christy Smith of K’omoks First Nation and vice-president of Indigenous and stakeholder relations with Falkirk Environmental and Michael McPhie, founding partner and co-chair of Falkirk and past president and CEO of the Mining Association of B.C., Weaving Two Worlds was released on Tuesday, March 1.
“It has really come about because of the organic story-telling nature of both Mike and I,” Smith told Black Press Media when asked how the book came together.
“His from a resource perspective and his history with the playing ground of resources and working with Indigenous communities and then my background being Indigenous and most of the time representing proponents to help them facilitate that relationship with Indigenous communities or with the Indigenous communities themselves.”
Their book shares two sides of what was experienced in the past in Canada, the present and looking to the future and progressing relationships to the point that there is understanding and interests and concerns are all heard, she added.
“We have to go back to the colonization of the country and the royal proclamation of the late 1700s. There is a whole bunch of context there and I don’t know if a lot of people realize we are living the results of the last 250 years of history. If you understand it you will be better prepared to go into meetings and build a relationship,” she said.
“We wrote it in a way to be accessible. It uses stories and personal examples as guidelines. We talk about sensitive issues around the resource centre like white fragility, and things like that Christy has helped me to understand better,” McPhie said.
Explaining ‘white fragility,’ Smith said it refers to educating yourself and understanding how to come to the table. It is about being aware of any assumptions and biases you may have.
Smith credited McPhie for having the initial idea for the book.
“This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, which is talk about the experience of the resource sector and all the issues we see on the frontline of sustainability and everything else,” McPhie said.
Two and a half years ago, he started writing down some ideas and as he began to work through the subject matter he came to the realization that the relationships between the resource sector and First Nations, not only in Canada, but globally, is the defining issue going forward.
“When you consider how important that relationship is, I honestly thought a 50-year-old white guy writing about this stuff would be interesting to some,” he said. “But I think the power of this was, and why I reached out to Christy and said ‘why don’t we do this together?’ was to offer both of our perspectives.”
There are lots of academic guides on how to consult, but they are two dimensional, McPhie said, adding they wanted to provide a richer story with two voices as opposed to one.
As the COVID-19 pandemic had just started, when they began working on the book, Smith and McPhie had the time to commit to the project and the collaboration, working with publisher Page Two Books of Vancouver.
McPhie said there are some “great” examples of groups working together in the book and the hope is to give people a path to follow.
“I think we’ve gone deep into some of these issues and brought them to light. I think there is not much out there that has given all these examples in one area,” Smith added.
For nine years Smith was living and working in the Williams Lake area before she returned home to her traditional territory on Vancouver Island in June 2021.