Local First Nation and Métis groups are planning on buying an equity stake together in the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The Indigenous leadership of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo announced on Thursday their intentions of joining the project. This comes on the heels of the federal government purchasing the project from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.
Factors for the decision came from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Fort McMurray back in April where he devoted time to speaking with Indigenous leaders. Ministers Ralph Goodale and Amarjeet Sohi also had discussions with the group during their trip on Wednesday.
“Making sure that our environment is protected is only possible if we have a seat at the table,” said Chief Archie Waquan of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, in a release. “By becoming owners, we can protect our communities, secure their futures, but also allow all Canadians to benefit.”
The group of Indigenous communities has sent a formal request to finance minister Bill Morneau and Premier Rachel Notley so discussions can begin to start the process of buying the equity.
McKay Métis President Ron Quintal says being on the project can be beneficial for the learning, the economy, and the environment.
“By working together, and stepping up to help lead this project, we can chart a new path forward on how Canada deals with Indigenous communities when it comes to responsible energy development – that way we can be sure to balance the need for economic growth, with protecting our environment.”
Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam echoed the same message pointing out that future decisions would go through its members.
“We need to move the oil,” Adam said. “We’ve killed three projects already on the go. We were on the verge of killing Kinder Morgan but, now that it’s Federally owned, everybody in Canada owns this pipeline.”
Because other First Nations could potentially come forward and join the pact, Adam says a 50 per cent stake is not out of the question.
He adds he looks forward to what lies ahead should the First Nation groups decide to invest.
“Let’s get to work because we’ve got a lot of work to get done to complete it to make sure this project goes forward. I’m satisfied with the work the Alberta government is doing, I’m satisfied with the work we’re continuing to do. Everything is moving forward, we cannot stop now.”
Notley Talks Pipeline In Fort McMurray
Notley made two stops touting the pipeline acquisition during her stop in Fort McMurray on Thursday.
She started her day speaking at a Metis festival hosted by McMurray Metis. That was followed by a press conference at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre, where the Premier reiterated that construction of this project is Alberta’s top priority toward helping Canada reach a pinnacle of economic prosperity.
“The failure to get adequate pipeline capacity, get our product to Canadian tidewater has been estimated to cost the Canadian economy around $14 billion per year and no modern economy in this world would purposely handcuff itself from getting access to that kind of economic activity within their borders.”
Notley says the federal government’s acquisition is not only beneficial for those directly employed by industry but business in general.
“It sends a signal with respect to investment overall, that if you invest in Canada, it’s a safe place for people to invest and our economy is a healthy one and our governments will do what’s necessary to support that investment.”
—With files from Brandon Piper