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

Community efforts raise money for service dog to help Agassiz boy stay calm, happy

Riley, a two-year-old Lhasa Apso-Chihuahua cross has made a huge difference in Chase Frayn’s life

WATCH: Today, we remember: community members visit Agassiz cenotaph on Remembrance Day

Royal Canadian Legion members, veterans, first responders, residents gather to pay their respects

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Agassiz Harrison school bus driver starts petition to get seatbelts on school buses

Petition come on the tail of Transport Canada announcement to investigate school bus data

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Calgarians head to the polls to declare ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on Winter Games

The question “are you for or are you against hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?” was to be posed to them Tuesday in a plebiscite to help determine whether the city should move ahead with a bid.

Heir’s big birthday: 70 candles lined up for Prince Charles

Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, still serving in the heir to the throne role he has filled since he was a young child.

Trudeau lays down challenge to companies in bid to boost trade with Asia

“Building the relationships, building the connections, building the facility and also changing mindsets — getting Canadian companies to see the opportunities we have around the world to partner and invest.”

One person sent to hospital after incident at Langley gas station

Police observed retrieving what appeared to be an exacto knife

CNN sues Trump, demanding return of Acosta to White House

CNN is asking for an immediate restraining order to return Acosta to the White House.

Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

US trial to tell epic tale of Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”

Guzman’s long-awaited U.S. trial begins Tuesday in New York

Northern California wildfire is deadliest in state history

Holding out slim hope as crews search for more fire dead; 42 already killed in blaze

Most Read