An innovative 'meeting place' between the BC business community and First Nations leadership launches to support economic reconciliation in BC

COAST SALISH TERRITORY/VANCOUVER, BC, March 13, 2017 /CNW/ - The Champions Table, an initiative resulting from the commitments made between the B.C Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) in their Memorandum of Understanding signed on September 6, 2016, held their inaugural meeting on March 8th, 2017. The Champions Table establishes a formal ongoing dialogue where leaders can come together to explore opportunities, discuss barriers and work jointly to develop and advance a more effective approach to economic development based on reconciliation with First Nations.

Acting Regional Chief Maureen Chapman stated, "It is with great excitement that we announce the inaugural meeting of the Champions Table. This innovative partnership between the Business Council of British Columbia and the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations has been in development for a number of months, and I am proud to announce that we are taking the steps to bring to life economic reconciliation, through acknowledging the inescapable economic component to our Title and Rights."

The Champions Table is an innovative undertaking that looks to produce concrete solutions towards the pursuit of greater certainty, partnership and sustainable economic development that supports full reconciliation with First Nations peoples in BC. Members will consist of eleven First Nation leaders from eight regions across the province and eleven BC business leaders from a range of industries. They will meet quarterly over the next three years and ultimately work towards the development of policy approaches, pilots and best practices for First Nations and businesses in BC. This will include the facilitation of 'big ideas' that can accelerate the means to address the social and economic gaps currently faced by First Nations peoples. The Champions Table will be supported by The Castlemain Group, acting as the Champions Table Secretariat, who will provide administrative, research, and policy support as well as aiding in the development of deliverables as directed by the Champions Table.

Expected outcomes of the Champions Table include the development of a mutually agreed-upon policy framework that will enable certainty, efficiency and facilitate the use of shared information and knowledge, and address barriers while acting on opportunities or processes that can be investigated, tested through pilots or implemented with the consent of BCAFN and BCBC. The Champions Table will also be working towards a mid-term goal to jointly promote investing in BC and partnership with Indigenous business to global capital markets.

"The Champions Table will continue to build trust and understanding among business leaders and First Nations Chiefs through respectful, open dialogue," said Greg D'Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia. "This understanding is a key tenant to advancing our collective goal of economic reconciliation and creating prosperity for First Nations and non-First Nations across British Columbia." 

About BCAFN: The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) represents 203 First Nations in BC and works to advance the Aboriginal Title and Rights, including Treaty Rights and other interests of Nations in BC. In addition, the BCAFN works to restore and enhance the relationship among Nations in BC, the Crown and the people of Canada, and to ensure that the interests of Nations are advocated nationally through the BC Regional Chief, who is a member of the national Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Executive.

About BCBC: The Business Council of British Columbia, now in its 51st year as the premier business organization in British Columbia, is a non-partisan organization made up of 250 leading companies, post-secondary institutions and organizations from BC's diverse economy which support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the province. The Council provides timely and exceptional public-policy research and advice on issues to enhance BC's competitiveness and prosperity.

SOURCE BC Assembly of First Nations

For further information: Melanie Debassige, BC Assembly of First Nations, melanie.debassige@bcafn.ca, 250-314-1562; Cheryl Maitland Muir, Business Council of British Columbia, cheryl.muir@bcbc.com, 604-812-5965

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