Ep 20. Indigenous Peoples Pipelines, Mining, and Forestry with Frank Antoine
Our goal in this episode was to have an honest conversation about both the past and future of heavy industry’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. Our guest Frank Antoine breaks down how mines affect local communities, individual support and opposition to pipelines, and negotiations for harvesting timber on traditional land. In this unique show Frank gives new insight into leadership, Indigenous heritage, and how we build culture as a country.
Mines are often located near or within Indigenous communities and for years have provided jobs and career opportunities. On the other side for many years the damage on natural resources including wildlife and fishing areas were not given priority when giving the go ahead to new mines. Now, with more environmental accountability in place, communities have tools available to challenge the mining companies to build mines that provide both jobs and protect the environment.
The forestry industry has been a staple of Indigenous employment for decades but bands were often not able to negotiate for the simple reason Frank points out, “Their lawyers were better than ours.” Now with more education and legal representation from within their communities, Indigenous peoples are beginning to work alongside the forestry industry but in more sustainable ways for their traditional territories. One example Franks uses is his own band now taking full control of logging some of their own trees but only taking specific lumber they need and leaving more natural growth untouched.
Arguably the most contentious topic with not just Indigenous people but Canadians, Americans, and even globally is the expansion of new pipelines. But Frank approaches it from the individual perspective. He explains that a pipeline comes down to the individual’s value, then it goes to the individual communities needs. Some bands have other economic drivers and the demand for a pipeline is simply not as high whereas other communities need the revenue and job opportunity that pipelines bring. In some cases if one band rejects the pipeline rather than working with the oil and gas companies, the company goes around their land and the opportunity is lost.
Frank is a man who wants to preserve his heritage but build a culture that includes all people. He explains heritage is your past, the people who came before that shaped you. Culture is what we have today as a country. He is the founder of Moccasin Trails and is the Co-Chair of Indigenous Tourism of BC, the Chair of Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and serves on multiple boards that promote Indigenous tourism and culture.
So what makes him look for the balance between preserving the land and protecting his people while also being open to working with heavy industry? What makes him optimistic that indigenous heritage can be preserved while building a culture as one country? What makes trust in people his default? Maybe it’s his upbringing, working out at a ranch with cowboys, 12 years at a golf course interacting with people from all walks of life, or maybe traveling the world drawing from other cultures. Maybe Frank Antoine has something special, a gift. Maybe that gift is an awareness that people need to have hope in the future and trust each other and that boxing anyone in using skin color, industry or even culture holds back the individual, the community, and the country. Frank has a vision for what we can accomplish as a nation and staying true to his heritage means he wants to share his knowledge, it is up to all of us to listen.
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Watch Previous Episode: Ep 19. Drilling & Blasting in Mines Using IoT & AI
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