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B.C. coastal First Nations form investment consortium

Coastal First Nations are open for business and looking for investment opportunities
robert-dennis-cofi-conference-screengrab
Robert Dennis Sr., chairman of Iskum Investments.

Twenty Coastal First Nations on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine and central coast have banded together to form a new investment coalition, aimed at increasing Indigenous involvement in various business enterprises.

The mandate of the new investment coalition, Iskum Investments, is “to explore economic opportunities that will create new self-generated revenues and support certainty for continued investment in B.C.”

The new investment coalition is headed by Robert Dennis Sr. (Emchayilk), former chief councillor of the Huu-Ay-Aht First Nation on Vancouver Island.

The Huu-ay-aht have invested in forestry as a means of generating own source revenue. This included acquiring a 35 per cent share in  the Western Forest Products (TSX:WEF) Tree Farm Licence 44.

While the Iskum group may invest in forestry related businesses, the group is leaving the door open to any number of business ventures. Nor would the investments necessarily need to be in businesses in their local region, but could be outside their traditional territories.

“The first plan was to form a group and then find a pathway down to any opportunities that we may want to invest in, and the door is open for what the investment would be,” Dennis told BIV News. “The group would decide and say what they want to do.”

As for raising investment capital, Dennis said the First Nation Finance Authority is one possible source.

“We’ve talked to the First Nations Finance Authority who has already invested over $2 billion in indigenous business,” Dennis said. “The door is open.”

“Iskum Investments’ groundbreaking partnership aims to advance economic reconciliation – taking hold of our future and making our own decisions, to improve the lives of our Nations’ citizens and members now and for future generations,” said Hegus John Hackett, chief of the Tla'amin Nation. 

“We know that there are opportunities that can only be realized by working together through a unified voice with shared values. It is for these reasons that Iskum was formed.”

nbennett@biv.com

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