Bill Loutitt, CEO of the McMurray Metis still wants to buy a stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion despite the recent Federal Court of Appeal ruling.(HO/The Canadian Press)

Indigenous groups still want to buy stake in Trans Mountain after court setback

Federal Court of Appeal ruling quashed the government’s approval of the project

Some First Nations and Metis communities are determined to purchase an equity stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion despite a court ruling that halted construction and potentially set the project back for years.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruling quashed the government’s approval of the project, requiring it to examine the impacts of increased tanker traffic and consult more deeply with Aboriginal groups along the pipeline route.

VIDEO: B.C. First Nations hail court’s quash of Kinder Morgan pipeline approval

Indigenous groups in Fort McMurray, Alta., say they still want to invest in the project and believe the ruling creates an opportunity for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to get consultation right.

“There are no shortcuts when it comes to consultation,” said Brad Callihoo, chief executive officer of the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation. “(The ruling) identifies an issue that needs to be addressed. The system is broken when it comes to consultation and we need to fix it.”

Canada has purchased the existing Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion and pledged to complete the expansion project, which would triple the line’s capacity to 890,000 barrels of oil a day and increase the number of tankers in Metro Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

READ MORE: B.C. spill response plans in limbo after Trans Mountain decision

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

Several First Nations in coastal and central B.C. filed lawsuits against the project, citing inadequate consultation. As they celebrated their win on the banks of Burrard Inlet on Aug. 30, dozens of construction workers from Callihoo’s First Nation were sent home from their jobs.

Indigenous communities on either side of the pipeline fight say they respect each other’s stance and feel no sense of division between them. First Nations aren’t always going to agree, but all deserve meaningful consultation, said Callihoo.

“Do I think there could be common ground for all the First Nations? Absolutely. But we have to be able to come to the table and meet the demands of the B.C. First Nations, just as (was done with) the Alberta First Nations.”

Not all Aboriginal groups in B.C. oppose the project. Thirty-three First Nations signed mutual-benefits agreements with Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. before the expansion was taken over by the federal government, and Cheam First Nation Chief Ernie Crey has expressed interest in buying a stake.

The goal for Callihoo’s First Nation is to become a self-sufficient community that does not rely on government subsidies for the next seven generations, he said, and a stake in the pipeline project would go a long way to achieving that objective.

The McMurray Metis are flourishing thanks to the economic opportunities provided by the oilsands, said chief executive officer Bill Loutitt, pointing to higher-than-average numbers of Aboriginal graduates in the region. The group will continue to push for a stake in Trans Mountain, he said.

Loutitt said Trudeau’s government should pass legislation to urgently resume construction on the project in Alberta, while also fulfilling their obligations to consult and review tanker traffic impacts. It should consider including Alberta Indigenous groups in talks with B.C. First Nations, he added.

“The one common thing that we’re concerned about is the environment,” he said. “But the way to take care of the environment is to be involved on the inside. That’s where you’re able to make the changes.”

The McMurray Metis have opposed projects in the past and learned development usually happens regardless, he said, so the only difference is whether the community benefits from the project and has control over it.

“I really see an opportunity for the coastal First Nations to be a big part in piloting these tankers and actually taking control of what’s going on in their backyard,” he said.

But Rueben George, a representative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver, said he couldn’t imagine his community ever supporting the project or purchasing a stake.

The Tsleil-Waututh commissioned its own 1,200-page environmental assessment and concluded the project was a threat not only to its traditional territories but to the global fight against climate change, he said.

“This isn’t good for Canada. This isn’t good for the world,” he said.

The community could have negotiated a mutual-benefits agreement worth millions but it chose to protect the land and water instead, he added.

But George said he understands why dozens of First Nations signed agreements and why some want to go further and invest in the project. Indigenous Peoples are statistically not doing well in Canada and communities have to make hard choices to keep members fed and housed, he said.

“In some communities in our country, we have 90 per cent, 95 per cent unemployment. I understand they have to make moves forward,” George said. “They have to look out for their people.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

‘Mitts don’t just warm hands. They warm hearts’: Mitts for Many Program launches

Donate new or lightly used mittens to bin in the Great Hall of the Gary W. Harris Centre

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony welcomes athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official opening of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vehicle theft from dealership

Police were able to disable the SUV with assistance from the built-in vehicle assistance system

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

LOCATED: Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Amanda Kucher was last seen at the Innisfail 7-Eleven on Feb. 15

Red Deer College transforms into Athletes’ Village

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta minor hockey team, slammed for Indigenous dance video, forfeits season

Parents say season was too dangerous to finish because the team has been threatened

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

Most Read