Greater First Nations role in resource development
In addition to the below, see a 6’30” interview on BNN here.
- 22 Jun 2016
- Calgary Herald
- BOB WEBER
- The Canadian Press
Greater First Nations role in resource development ‘way of the future’: report
Canada’s First Nations have a stake worth hundreds of millions of dollars in resource industry development and are likely to call more of the industry’s shots in the future, concludes a research paper.
“There is not going to be a very substantial expansion of the resource sector in Canada without full partnerships with indigenous Canadians,” said Ken Coates of the University of Saskatchewan.
Coates wrote the report for the Indian Resource Council, an aboriginal group that represents First Nations oil and gas producers.
Coates notes that aboriginal opinion on new energy, pipeline and mineral projects reflects the same splits in the rest of Canada.
He writes while many “connected to broader environmental and climate change protesters” oppose such developments, others welcome well-regulated proposals.
Coates cites several examples of bands that have prospered.
Saskatchewan’s Meadow Lake Tribal Council controls companies that earn up to $80 million and employ nearly 200 aboriginals through work with uranium mines.
Alberta’s Onion Lake band owns 400 oil wells that pumped 14,000 barrels in 2014.
Other First Nations have taken equity positions in projects proposed for their traditional lands, such as the 35-per-cent ownership share offered B.C.’s Haisla band in the Kitimat LNG plan.
The band sold the option and reinvested the money.
Coates writes, however, that owning service businesses and equity stakes has not yet brought much in the way of control.
“Equity ownership rarely includes First Nations representation on the corporate board of governors,” he said.
As well, aboriginal equity in the resource sector is dwarfed by the amount of money in play. Suncor, Canada’s largest energy firm, is worth nearly $43 billion.
But companies — driven by a series of legal judgments — are slowly accepting the need to include aboriginals earlier and earlier in the process, said Coates.
“The known rules now include First Nations and indigenous engagement.Any company that wants to do business in Canada should know now that early involvement of the indigenous population is the only way to go.”
Representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, as well as those from bands contacted by The Canadian Press, were celebrating National Aboriginal Day and not available for comment.
Coates said substantial, sustained partnerships with First Nations are “the way of the future.”