Absolutely. Economic recovery is certainly a priority for First Nations, but it raises many concerns. One concern is the fear that Indigenous interests are not being adequately addressed in government economic recovery plans.
This can be seen currently in Quebec's Bill 61. Just today, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, appeared before the parliamentary committee in charge of reviewing the bill. He stressed that, despite the emergency situation, the government cannot avoid its responsibility to consult First Nations. He also raised the concern that is very worrisome to First Nations, namely the protection of the environment in general, natural resources and wildlife habitats.
At the same time, reopening and economic recovery must also be seen as economic opportunities for Indigenous businesses and communities. I feel it is important here to point out a very positive initiative by several national Indigenous organizations that decided to join forces to help the federal government better meet the economic development needs of Indigenous people. Together, they created the Indigenous business COVID-19 response task force, which aims to speak to the Government of Canada in a unified Indigenous voice in this time of crisis. I find this is good and important.
The team is currently putting together a comprehensive database of Indigenous businesses that can be used by federal departments looking for suppliers. It is also analyzing the impact of the crisis on Indigenous businesses and communities to ensure that the Government of Canada can provide adequate support measures, equivalent to those available to the rest of the Canadian economy. This is an unprecedented and very important collaborative effort that will facilitate better representation of Indigenous people in Canada's economic recovery plan.