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Tribal North could pave way for prosperity in local First Nations

Chris Clegg for South Peace News

Sucker Creek First Nation and Native American Resource Partners are touting a recent partnership as a win-win situation for all, with hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenues at stake.It’s what Sucker Creek First Nation residents heard at a public meeting Feb. 22 to celebrate several ventures the band is involved in. None is bigger than the partnership with NARP and other Treaty 8 First Nations to develop resources on Treaty 8 and traditional lands.

“I want to introduce our new friend, John Jurrius,” Chief Jim Badger says, adding Jurrius flew in from Dallas that day.

Badger adds Jurrius’s claim to fame was his involvement with the southern Ute bands in the United States. NARP formed partnerships with the bands and increased their revenues by tens of millions of dollars.

“What a great opportunity it is,” says Jurrius, after introducing his local team, including all staff at their High Prairie facility, located in the former Emerald Trucking complex.

NARP only invests in First Nations in Canada and tribes in the United States. Jurrius brings 28 years of experience to the plate in those business dealings.

The crux of the matter is local First Nations have no money to develop resources on their lands and traditional lands. That’s where Jurrius comes in. His company will provide the capital to develop those resources, which are shared between his company and First Nations.

“The Southern Utes had $7 million in revenues in the late 1980s,” says Jurrius. “In 2001, that $7 million went to $350 million in income and $1 billion in assets.”

The Northern Ute tribes in Utah quickly joined in and saw over $200 million in revenues in 2007.

Jurrius stunned the audience with another statement.

“The opportunities in Canada are more given your Treaty rights and traditional rights,” he says.

“It’s all of Canada,” he adds, referring to traditional lands. “Once we learned about these rights, we learned there was a bigger opportunity.”

Jurrius says what most people don’t understand is the people they are dealing with, including government.

“When you partner with someone, you should understand who you are partnering with,” he says. “This is a private development firm focused on partnering with tribal nations and First Nations.”

NARP also has partnerships with the Fort Peck and Apache reservations in the United States and Tall Cree and Blood First Nations in Alberta.

Badger sees the new partnership as a huge opportunity. Currently, he said local bands are competing for low-paying contracts.

“There needs to be a change,” he says. “This initiative, which also involves Whitefish Lake, is a partnership.”

Jurrius sees a much bigger picture.

“It’s our job and our goal to enable you to access those larger contracts.

“In the next 20 years, $300 billion will be spent by the resource industry in your traditional territories,” he says. “How much of that will go to First Nations? Less than one per cent, I’d say.”

Jurrius estimates in 2014 $15 billion will be spent in Treaty 8 territory alone.

“It’s one thing to have rights but we help you empower those rights,” says Jurrius.

He adds his company provides the capital and equipment for projects, and in return they receive 10 per cent of profits.

And, he wants to hire Aboriginal workers.

Jurrius estimates as many as 14 First Nations could be involved in partnerships.

As a final show of faith, he presented Badger with a cheque for $25,000.

“Rather than fight with industry…this is where we’re at today,” says Badger, who first met Jurrius in 2000. “We’re very limited in our budget and your hands are somewhat tied. We’ve been denied our opportunity. This is an opportunity.

“I couldn’t believe how he changed the entire system in the States,” says Badger.

“It’s a chance for Sucker Creek to step up. It’s an opportunity and it’s a change. We have to do business this way. This is something that’s going to happen.”

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