Trans Mountain equity deal requires united indigenous group, resource summit told

Indigenous communities that want to invest in the Trans Mountain pipeline have been urged to unite behind a group that has invited the participation of First Nations and Métis communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.

“If we [are] truly here about our children and our children’s children, it should be easy enough for us to connect, to come together and unify as one collective voice representing all nations here within Canada,” Delbert Wapass, executive chair and founder of Project Reconciliation, told a National Coalition of Chiefs Energy And Natural Resources Summit Monday in Calgary.

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The Indigenous-led organization wants to buy a 51% equity interest in the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion for $4 billion, or Trans Mountain pipeline for $2 billion, raising funds through bank loans and equity markets. At least two other Indigenous groups have indicated an interest in acquiring an interest in the pipeline from the federal government.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a strong supporter of Indigenous participation in the pipeline, has talked about the need for the groups to come together as one unit to submit their bid, Wapass noted. “And we continue to reach out to do that as Project Reconciliation and we will continue to do that.”

Ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline could provide an opportunity for Indigenous communities to take significant steps to meaningful economic sovereignty and reconciliation, he said. “Ownership would allow all of us to ensure a more prosperous future for our children and our children’s children.”

Wapass acknowledged that although First Nations along Trans Mountain expansion route would be the most affected by the pipeline expansion, “it’s about sharing, not denying.”

While a percentage of the estimated $250 million annual proceeds would go to per-capita distribution from participating nations, Project Reconciliation also is proposing creation of a sovereign wealth fund, generating funds that could be invested in clean tech, infrastructure and green energy. “If the Norwegians can do it, we can as well.”

“When we talk about economic sovereignty and we see tribes now in Canada that are making more than what government gives in program and service delivery, that’s empowerment,” he said. “You start telling government what to do, rather than government telling you what to do.”

And that’s the aspiration of Indigenous nations, the summit heard. “It’s not to be dependent on, it’s not to be at the mercy of but to come together as a collective to realize a better future today and tomorrow for our children.”

The summit also heard presentations about two greenfield pipeline projects. The $100 billion Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd. energy corridor from Fort McMurray to Hyder, Alaska, would accommodate four 48-inch pipelines, two for partially upgraded bitumen and two NGL/LNG gas pipelines for exports to Asian markets.

The $24-billion Montreal-based Canadian Prosperity Pipelines Corporation oil pipeline would transport western Canadian oil to Quebec and to the East Coast of Canada, to provide Canadian energy independence. 

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