Weighing Benefits and Risks

Community Resilience
and Well-being

The Issue

LNG projects need in BC can be structured in ways that enhance community resilience, health and well- being. A range of issues affect community well-being, and it is important that these resilience qualities are identified by communities themselves.

Jones and Bradshaw (2015) note that environmental assessment and related permitting processes for the extractive sector have long struggled to identify and mitigate health and well-
being impacts associated with resource development, especially in northern, largely Indigenous, jurisdictions. In their view, BAs offer an opportunity to address this governance deficit, particularly when used in conjunction with tools such as Health Impact Assessments (HIAs).

The COVID-19 pandemic has also catalyzed greater interest in the “social determinants of health” research agenda, that is conducive to building a better understanding of the diverse concepts and drivers of well-being for First Nation’s communities. On this point, Jones and Bradshaw (2015) observe that health disparities have been linked to experiences of poverty, stress, trauma, cultural erosion and environmental dispossession. Despite this growing research agenda, its impact on the crafting of BAs has been minimal, as Jones and Bradshaw (2015) find in their case analysis of Indigenous participation in the Wishbone Hill HIA in Alaska and the BA signed in support of the Meadowbank Mine in Nunavut.

Extractive projects can also affect community resilience and well-being through impacts on customary and communal forms of landholding (Yapao, Godden and Pettigrove in Langton and Longbottom, 2012). Tehan and Godden (in Langton and Longbottom, 2012) conclude that the recognition of native title in Australia has had ‘a transforming effect on relationships between Indigenous Peoples and the resources sector.


Nowhere is this more evident than in agreement making about land use and access, and the bargains struck to allow this to proceed.’ An outcome and important development is the ‘changed behaviour and culture leading to negotiations beyond the strict legal requirements.’ Tehan and Godden (2012) also explain a company’s reputation and potential to gain access to other resource bodies could be diminished if it were complicit in the social disasters that result from cash distribution – or failure to save and invest – the very large sums of money that have been paid to local groups as recompense for impacts.

The expansion of Indigenous legal rights to negotiate with resource companies has also led to institution building to ensure that benefits, especially financial benefits, are distributed for the benefit of the majority. To do otherwise, as so many Indigenous and local people have discovered, is to invite social disaster, corruption and distortion of customary or traditional social organization and authority (Langton and Longbottom, 2012, 10).

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