The head of Project Reconciliation says that despite the loss of the Teck Frontier mining project, and the protests across the country, his organization is still interested in investing in the oil and gas industry.
“We are pushing hard to have an equity stake, majority stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline (expansion project),” said Delbert Wapass. “I think we can’t afford not to do it. When we look at the opportunities that are out there, and we go back and look at our communities and how they are hurting. “I’m a firm believer that the economy and the environment don’t have to be on opposing ends.”
Project Reconciliation is an Indigenous owned group, based in Saskatchewan, that wants to buy a majority piece of the Trans Canada expansion project.
Wabass was part of a two day oil and gas conference that wrapped up Thursday in Calgary.
The conference was hosted by two Indigenous organizations that are hoping to bring economic benefits to their communities while also respecting the environment.
“One of the major challenges for First Nations is access to capitol and finding financing at low interest rates so we can be successful at owning businesses,” said Sharleen Gale, chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition.
“So part of the process here today is to have that discussion. I think that when First Nations are involved in economic opportunities in their communities, they are really able to build up their infrastructure.
“And when a first nation community is doing good, so are local municipalities because we live there.”
More than 300 people took part in the indigenous participation and major projects conference.
Stephen Buffalo is the CEO of the Indian Resource Council, the other co-host of the conference.
He says the decision to not go forward with the Teck Frontier mine in northern Alberta hurts the people who would benefit from it.
“It’s unfortunate that Teck Mine did not go forward,” said Buffalo. “The opportunities can still be there, maybe there is a different organization that will step up and see possibly if they can continue to do that work.
“The benefits are not only to the federal government, and provincial government through tax revenue, but first nations in general.”