"I haven't heard...much about interest in First Nations becoming gambling entrepreneurs." That's what Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister George Abbott stated in January on Voice of BC when I asked about the government's interest in promoting legal gaming facilities on aboriginal reserves. But six months later Sto:Lo Chief Joe Hall has went public with complaints about the government's reluctance to approve such facilities which gaming minister Rich Coleman has said aren't "financially feasible."
So now Chief Hall is leading an initiative to establish a B.C. First Nations Gaming Commission that will build casinos on reserves near urban centres. The legalities of that initiative are unclear. But what is clear is British Columbia's elected officials have been negligent in addressing this concern which, as a result, has now become a very public controversy.and another indication of the government's failure to establish a new relationship with the province's First Nations.