The B.C. government and a First Nation have signed an agreement that will protect land while opening up other regions of the northwestern part of the province for potential resource development.

Premier Christy Clark says the deal represents a shift from conflict to collaboration between B.C. and the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.

She says the agreement creates investment certainty on more than three million hectares in the Atlin Taku region while providing jobs and protecting key environmental and cultural values.

Clark says the First Nation has already begun to work with mining developers on potential resource projects that could bring about 600 jobs to the region in the future.

Band spokesman John Ward says the agreement will protect the land and a way of life for people who can now dream of prospering in their own region.

Aboriginal Relations Minister Mary Polak says 90 per cent of the areas with the highest mineral potential remain available for exploration and potential development.