The Esquimalt and T’Sou-ke Nations joined seven other South Island Nations in becoming members of the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP).
The economic development organization based in Greater Victoria has more than 50 members, including 10 local governments, three post-secondary institutions, more than 30 major employers and now nine First Nations. The Tsawout, Tsartlip, Songhees, Pauquachin, Tseycum, Sc’ianew and Malahat Nations were already members.
SIPP works to foster prosperous and sustainable economic and social growth in the region by encouraging the creation of high-quality jobs for residents.
Supporting “First Nations-driven economic development activities” and following their guidance is important to SIPP, explained Bruce Williams, SIPP interim CEO.
Esquimalt Nation Chief Rob Thomas noted that he is looking forward to working with SIPP to advance economic progress in the region.
“This territory has been our ancestral home for thousands of years. Our culture has always been and will always be tied to and sustained by our lands, and we must find new ways to give it voice,” Thomas said in a statement.
Chief Gordon Planes of the T’Sou-ke Nation agreed. The SIPP members work together to reduce the negative impacts the current economic structure has on the planet by making sustainable changes such as finding alternatives to fossil fuels, he explained.
“We need to make some hard choices for our children and our children not born yet,” Planes said. “Let’s go to work. We’re running out of time.”
Christina Clarke, SIPP board member and corporate executive officer for the Songhees Development Corporation, emphasized that she’s encouraged by the Esquimalt and T’Sou-ke Nations’ decision to join SIPP.
“The potential for what we can achieve together through collaboration and shared knowledge is limitless,” she said.