Top federal officials aiming to woo First Nation leaders on pipeline projects: letter

Several top federal officials are planning to meet with senior First Nations leaders in British Columbia later this month in an attempt to break an impasse over planned major pipeline projects facing resistance from Indigenous communities in the province, according to a letter obtained by APTN National News.

APTN National News
OTTAWA–Several top federal officials are planning to meet with senior First Nations leaders in British Columbia later this month in an attempt to break an impasse over planned major pipeline projects facing resistance from Indigenous communities in the province, according to a letter obtained by APTN National News.

Deputy ministers from seven departments are requesting a meeting Sept. 23 with Grand Chief Edward John, who heads the First Nations Summit, B.C. Assembly of First Nations regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould and Union BC Indian Chiefs president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

The officials looking to meet with the First Nations leaders include the deputy ministers of aboriginal affairs, natural resources, fisheries and oceans, transport, environment, western economic diversification and employment and social development.

Two major pipeline projects, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline, face major resistance from First Nations people and communities. Both pipelines are slated to pump tar sands bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

Impetus for the meeting appears to stem from discussions initiated by Douglas Eyford, who was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper this past march as a Special Federal Representative on West Coast Energy Infrastructure with a mandate to smooth the way for First Nations buy-in on pipeline projects.

“Mr. Eyford’s discussions to date with British Columbia First Nations have highlighted the importance of engagement between senior government officials and First Nations,” wrote Serge Dupont, deputy minister for natural resources, in a letter to one of the three First Nations leaders invited to the meeting. “Including initiatives to strengthen environmental protection improve marine and pipeline safety and enhance Aboriginal participation in resource development.”

According to Dupont’s letter, federal officials hope the meeting will lead to build “common ground” and “pursue shared opportunities and interests.”

Dupont’s letter, however, makes clear the meetings are not meant as consultation on any planned energy project.

The meeting is tentatively set to run from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will be held on the sixth floor of Aboriginal Affairs’ Vancouver office building.

“The purpose of the meeting would be to engage in dialogue with you and your key council members to better understand the issues and priorities of our communities in respect of proposed or future resource and infrastructure development opportunities,” wrote Dupont, in the Sept. 9 dated letter.

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Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

1 thought on “Top federal officials aiming to woo First Nation leaders on pipeline projects: letter

  1. First Nations are legal title holders to this land and should not be treated as if they were simply partners in any business Venture on this land. corporations and government must respect this and request permission before commencing any conversation on any business venture. The land like anyone else’s land should be leased at its value if and only if a unanimous vote in favor by all First Nations involved is passed. There are no exceptions to this and land entitlememt or ownerships must not be ignored. then and only then once a respectable lease has been signed should any slots for future plans for business ventures and or possible business partnerships be be put on the tablethe table.

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