Hon. Jim Prentice, Vice Chairman of CIBC, says growth and jobs must be achieved with an unblinking focus and commitment to the environmentWHITEHORSE, July 17, 2013 /CNW/ - CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) - First Nations have an unprecedented opportunity to shape and benefit from the next wave of nation-building in Canada but need to decide whether to be participants or observers, says the Honorable Jim Prentice, Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice Chairman of CIBC. Mr. Prentice believes it is imperative that First Nations find a way to take advantage of these opportunities and get involved as partners. "Personally, I favour getting to 'Yes.' Today, thanks to our abundance of natural resources, we stand on the verge of a new era of growth and development. No other country in the world is bringing on energy projects at the pace or on the scale of Canada. "We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in major resource developments that are currently - or will be - taking place on or near Aboriginal communities. It is national in nature. It is substantial in scope. And in many cases it represents a game-changing opportunity for First Nations." He notes that First Nations are increasingly becoming partners in energy and resource projects from coast-to-coast and these initiatives are generating economic benefits for their communities. But he adds that with some 400,000 Aboriginal youth entering the job market over the decade the need to find more economic opportunities will intensify, as will the need to invest in the future of Aboriginal youth. "But let me be clear: I'm not talking about irresponsible development," says Mr. Prentice. "This isn't a tradeoff. It's not about securing short-term economic benefits at the expense of our natural heritage.