I opened Resource Rulers on my 5 AM flight back to Toronto from Fort McMurray after covering the Energy and the Oil Sands: Aboriginal Perspectives conference and finished it early the next morning. Finished in just over 24 hours. You could say the timing was right.
In all the years I’ve been researching the resource industry from various perspectives, I’ve never got a sense of cohesion. The mining guys speak to their particular pitfalls, while the oil and gas people are immersed in their immediate issues, and the forestry folks are focused on their niche. I circled around and did my best to engage and learn more about the important intersections between the resource based economy we live in and Aboriginal peoples (I am using the term Aboriginal as it is the Canadian Constitution approved terminology and since I’m talking about a book about the Canadian law, it seems the best term for this post).
Resource Rulers gave me a great sense of understanding of this intersection and the important role that Aboriginal people have in shaping the future of development in Canada. The book gives an overview of the legal “winning streak” that Aboriginal people are having in the resource sector, from forestry, to energy, to oil and gas, and mining. Finally I was able to see these industries from a bird’s eye view over the implications and issues in the Aboriginal context.
The rise of Native empowerment has littered the landscape north of the Trans-Canada with project ‘trainwrecks’ and in the process has transformed Natives into Resource Rulers.
Now don’t get confused and think that this book was written for Aboriginal people so that we can get that puff of pride as we walk through protest lines. This book was written by Bill Gallagher (not to be confused with Athabasca Oil’s Bill Gallacher), who is a lawyer, energy regulator, a treaty negotiator and a dispute facilitator. He has been working with industry for numerous years and told me in conversation that he wrote this book to be used as a tool for industry to greater understand the court cases and the precedent that has been set for Aboriginal peoples and their role in the resource industry.
*Excerpt from Gallagher’s site
The book is an intense read full of fact and laden with excerpts from news articles, speeches, reports and court cases. But don’t let that frighten you off. If you’re interested in the future of Canada, the Canadian economy, the resource based project developments that are happening all over this country and on Aboriginal territory, then you’ll want to pick this book up and give it a read.
From the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement to the Kelowna Accord, this book has given me a better understanding of the historical context on the social and legal issues that, unfortunately, were never discussed around my dinner table while growing up. Now I can catch up and spark those conversations for generations to come.
Gallagher’s book should be required reading for all First Nations leaders and their supporters. It represents a road map to our future.