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Another Step on the Road to Reconciliation

Many have expressed disappointment over the recently announced budget, but it marked a historic win for First Nations groups in BC.

The John Horgan government and BC First Nations partnered on an unprecedented revenue-sharing agreement that will see an additional seven percent of provincial gaming revenue go to First Nations, not provincial coffers.

Thanks to this new agreement, every First Nation in the province will get between $250,000 and $2 million dollars in funding annually and Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said this money will be beneficial.

“In 2013 when I met with Indian Affairs to look at all the funding applications we’ve had, at that time it was probably at about $15 million dollars that we needed to do all these projects,” said Seymour. “Since then, we’ve been working on an annual basis of doing it in phases, that cost may go down, but there is still a lot of work.”

In 2017-18, the province collected nearly $1.391 billion dollars in net revenue from gaming activities.

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Fifty percent of the funding will be distributed evenly to all First Nations, including Treaty Nations, 40 percent will go to bands based on population and the remaining funding is earmarked for remote communities.

Seymour said when the band was looking at buying out the Chances Cowichan casino, the amount of money that the BC Gaming Commission was taking was quite high.

He said council has been looking at ways of reducing the percentage the province gets and this seems to be the best way to get that done.

“The percentage that gaming is taken away from our local casino is pretty high, so we’re looking at ways to reduce their percentage and this looks like the way that they have finally come up with,” said Seymour.

The money is expected to start flowing in April, but before that, decisions on what the money will be used for will need to be made.

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