Majority of B.C. First Nations support LNG projects

As debates continue on the merits of Canadian energy infrastructure projects, the majority of First Nations in B.C. have said yes to proposed natural gas pipeline projects.
May 26, 2016 6:05 PM ET

Blueberry River First Nations one of many

As debates continue on the merits of Canadian energy infrastructure projects, the majority of First Nations in B.C. have said yes to proposed natural gas pipeline projects. Blueberry River First Nations is one of them. Chief Marvin Yahey is a believer in what pipelines will do for his people. He represents one of several First Nations communities in B.C. to sign LNG project agreements with both TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) and Coastal GasLink (CGL) projects. “We believe the PRGT Project will benefit our members today and for future generations, both financially and in terms of employment for our members," said Chief Yahey. First Nations leaders like Chief Yahey have worked closely to build meaningful relationships with TransCanada, based on trust, shared dialogue, collaboration and respect. "The relationship we have established with TransCanada is just as important as the agreement, and we are confident that the relationship we have built will continue to the benefit of both parties for years to come."

Support for LNG continues to grow

TransCanada’s combined 24 project agreements signed with supportive communities is indicative of the growing support — now in the majority — for LNG pipeline projects from First Nations across the province. Today, the company announced the two latest signings for its LNG projects - Kitselas First Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band have inked agreements that outline benefits and commitments that will be provided to these communities during construction and for as long as the pipeline is in service. These agreements will support environmentally responsible and safe infrastructure development while contributing to the betterment of communities:

  • “The project agreement reflects that we can collaborate with companies like (TransCanada) and participate in the many benefits of the project. It's important to us to find ways to balance the economic opportunity with environmental protection." — Chief Dan George, Burns Lake Indian Band.
  • "We welcome the opportunity to be an active partner of Coastal GasLink. We look forward to our members further participating in skills development and environmental stewardship opportunities that form part of the comprehensive agreement.” — Chief Dominic Frederick, Lheidli T'enneh
  • “This agreement ensures our values will be respected and our Nation will benefit from this project." — Chief John French, Takla Lake First Nation.

Contributing to long-term aspirations of Indigenous peoples

All 24 agreements outline benefits and commitments — including business opportunities — for community members provided during construction. TransCanada seeks to involve Indigenous communities in all aspects of project development as well as contributing to the long-term aspirations of Indigenous peoples through community investment, capacity development and economic opportunities. “These agreements are signed after a meaningful exchange of information and ideas that not only benefit First Nations communities, but also make PRGT a stronger project,” said Tony Palmer, president of PRGT. “This isn’t a choice between economics and culture, environment and a traditional way of life for First Nations communities,” said Rick Gateman, Coastal GasLink pipeline project president. “These agreements demonstrate that we can show First Nations communities that they can enjoy economic benefits from the projects while they practice and live their way of life.” The Coastal GasLink pipeline is a 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline that would extend from the Dawson Creek area to the proposed LNG Canada facility near Kitimat. The Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project is a proposed 900-kilometre natural gas pipeline that will deliver natural gas from the Hudson’s Hope area to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG facility near Prince Rupert.

Energy East: 57 engagement agreements signed with Indigenous communities

Meanwhile that same respect — for the distinct history, cultures and legal status of Indigenous peoples and their unique relationship to the land — is evident in the similar path undertaken in TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline Project. To date:

  • More than 180 Indigenous communities across Canada have been engaged, with the aim to involve them in all aspects of project development.
  • 2,470 meetings have been held with Indigenous communities.
  • 57 engagement agreements with First Nations and Métis communities have been signed.
  • 63 traditional knowledge studies are currently being conducted on the ground.

Additionally the Red Rock Indian Band of northwestern Ontario and TransCanada signed a Letter of Intent last summer to establish a formal working group on the feasibility of the community providing electricity transmission for Energy East. Chief Pierre Pelletier says the Band has had a “long-standing and respectful” relationship with TransCanada, dating back from the days when the Canadian Mainline system of natural gas pipelines was built on their lands in the 1980s and 1990s. “With (the) agreement, Energy East has once again demonstrated this mutual respect by engaging in a respectful dialogue, allowing us to share information and work toward a meaningful, long-term economic benefit to my community, Chief Pelletier said in a news release.