After two months of combing through reports from Kinder Morgan and the Canadian government and reaching out to communities, The Discourse, APTN and HuffPost Canada are sharing our updated Tracking Trans Mountain database.
The database documents where 140 First Nation bands and Indigenous groups along the Trans Mountain pipeline route stand on the contentious project. They were identified through consultation reports submitted by Kinder Morgan to the government.
Each First Nation band and Indigenous group is diverse, unique and the reasons behind their decisions and positions on the project are complicated. Here’s what we know right now:
Who has an agreement?
Kinder Morgan points to 43 signed mutual benefits agreements (MBAs) to show Indigenous support for the pipeline. The Tracking Trans Mountain data confirms that the following 41 nations have an agreement:
- Alexander First Nation
- Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation
- Aseniwuche Winewak Nation of Canada
- Ashcroft Indian Band
- B.C. Métis Federation
- Canim Lake Band (Tsq’escen)
- Cheam First Nation
- Ditidaht First Nation
- Enoch Cree Nation
- Ermineskin Cree Nation
- Esquimalt Nation
- Foothills Ojibway Society
- Halalt First Nation
- Hwlitsum First Nation
- Kelly Lake Cree Nation
- Kwikwetlem First Nation
- Lake Cowichan First Nation
- Lower Nicola Indian Band
- Malahat First Nation
- Matsqui First Nation
- Métis Nation British Columbia
- Nakcowinewak Nation of Canada
- Nicomen Indian Band
- O’Chiese First Nation
- Pacheedaht First Nation
- Paul First Nation (Wabamun)
- Pauquachin First Nation
- Penelakut First Nation
- Peters First Nation
- Popkum Indian Band
- Samson Cree Nation
- Scia’new First Nation (Beecher Bay)
- Seabird Island Band
- Semiahmoo First Nation
- Shxw’ow’hamel First Nation
- Simpcw First Nation
- T’Sou-ke First Nation
- Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc (Kamloops Indian Band)
- Union Bar Indian Band
- Whispering Pines/ Clinton Indian Band
- Yale First Nation
The other two nations or groups counted by Kinder Morgan cannot be confirmed at this time — the company has not publicly stated which nations are among the 43 that they say have agreements with.
Our investigation found that, while other media have reported that Tzeachten First Nation has a signed an agreement, they did not. Chief Derek Epp says that the nation “has not consented to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.” In fact, Tzeachten is one of 14 First Nation bands or Indigenous groups involved in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s decision to approve the expansion.
Trans Mountain says the pipeline has been cleared by “First Nations communities whose Reserve lands we intend to cross,” which includes Tzeachten First Nation Reserve 13. Epp says Tzeachten First Nation families whose reserve land would be directly impacted by the expansion “made their own decisions about what was in the best interest for their lands and their families, given the fact that they already have one pipeline running through their lands” — referring to the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, in operation since 1953.
Epp says Tzeachten First Nation supported the land-holders’ decisions, but pointed to the expansion project’s broader implications for Aboriginal rights and title.
“The legal duty to meaningfully consult with Indigenous Peoples and accommodate impacts to Indigenous rights and title has not been fulfilled in this case,” says Epp.
The database also reveals that a signed agreement doesn’t necessarily equate to community support.
The chiefs of Yale First Nation and Ditidaht First Nation both say they felt they had no choice but to sign on to the project. Representatives from Penelakut First Nation signed an agreement, but a natural resources advisor for the community says some environmental concerns have yet to be resolved.
On May 29, 2018, the Canadian government announced its plans to buy the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and infrastructure for the expansion for $4.5 billion. Ottawa says it will honour existing profit-sharing agreements struck between Kinder Morgan and Indigenous communities. Representatives from the Ministry of Finance could not confirm exactly how consultation and engagement will continue for communities without agreements — only that the project would “continue to follow all required National Energy Board conditions.”
A finance official also confirmed that the government’s agreement with Kinder Morgan includes a guarantee of financing to ensure construction of the pipeline is restarted this summer.
Who has a court challenge?
On March 9, 2017, the Federal Court of Appeal consolidated 16 separate applications challenging the project into one file for judicial review. Among the challenges were 10 Indigenous-led cases involving 14 First Nation bands or Indigenous groups. Their arguments revolve around the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous communities’ constitutional rights when it comes to the Trans Mountain expansion.
Musqueam Indian Band, Kwantlen First Nation, Cheam First Nation, Chawathil First Nation and Kwaw’Kwaw’Apilt First Nation have since filed notices of discontinuance, withdrawing from the challenge.
Now, 12 First Nation bands and two Indigenous groups are involved in legal challenges against the project’s approval by the federal government and the National Energy Board’s consultation process. They are:
- Tsleil-Waututh Nation
- Squamish Nation
- Coldwater Indian Band
- Skwah First Nation
- Upper Nicola Band
- Aitchelitz First Nation
- Skowkale First Nation
- Shxwhá:y Village
- Soowahlie First Nation
- Squiala First Nation
- Yakweakwioose First Nation
- Tzeachten First Nation
- Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe Ltd.
- Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nation, a traditional governance group that includes members from the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc (Kamloops Indian Band) and Skeetchestn Indian Band
Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) represents the traditional governance of their territory, while Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and Skeetchestn are federally recognized bands. These two governance structures are distinct. While the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc band has a signed an agreement with Kinder Morgan, Chief Fred Seymour is also an applicant in the lawsuit challenging the project. He filed alongside Chief Ron Ignace of Skeetchestn Indian Band, in their capacity as members of SSN.
The consolidated case is still before the Federal Court of Appeal. If the court finds consultation between the federal government, National Energy Board, Trans Mountain and Indigenous communities was inadequate, and the project lacks consent, it could send the the project back to the consultation drawing board.
Who does not have an agreement?
With 41 agreements and 14 First Nation bands or Indigenous groups involved in legal challenges, our database finds the following 85 do not have agreements:
- Maa-Nulth First Nations
- Boothroyd Band
- Boston Bar First Nation
- Confederacy of Treaty 6 Nations
- Cook’s Ferry Indian Band
- Cowichan Nation Alliance/Cowichan Tribes
- Horse Lake First Nation
- Huu-ay-aht First Nations
- Kanaka Bar Indian Band (T’eqt’aqtn’mux)
- Katzie First Nation
- Kwantlen First Nation
- Leq’á:mel First Nation
- Lhtako Dené Nation
- Louis Bull Tribe
- Lower Similkameen Indian Band
- Michel First Nation
- Nooaitch Indian Band
- Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council
- Okanagan Indian Band
- Oregon Jack Creek Band
- People of the River Referral Office
- Saddle Lake Cree Nation
- Scowlitz (Sq’éwlets) First Nation
- Sencot’en Alliance
- Siska Indian Band
- Skawahlook First Nation
- Skeetchestn Indian Band
- Skuppah Indian Band
- Snaw’Naw’As (Nanoose) First Nation
- Snuneymuxw (Nanaimo) First Nation
- Songhees First Nation
- Spuzzum First Nation
- Bonaparte Indian Band (St’uxwtews)
- Stoney Nakoda First Nation
- Sts’ailes Band (Chehalis)
- Sumas First Nation
- Sunchild First Nation
- Williams Lake Indian Band (T’éxel’c)
- Toosey (Tl’esqox) Indian Band
- Tsuu T’ina Nation
- Upper Athabasca Valley Elders Council
- Upper Similkameen Indian Band
- Whitefish Lake First Nation #128
- Shuswap Indian Band
- Splatsín First Nation
- Soda Creek Band (Xats’ull/Cmetem)
- Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek & Dog Creek)
- Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band
- Chawathil First Nation
- Kelly Lake First Nation
- Kelly Lake Métis Settlement Society
- Ktunaxa Nation
- Lyackson First Nation
- Lytton First Nation
- Métis Nation of Alberta Gunn Métis Local #55
- Neskonlith Indian Band
- Nicola Tribal Association
- Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council
- Okanagan Nation Alliance
- Qayqayt First Nation (New Westminster)
- Rocky Mountain Cree
- Shuswap Nation Tribal Council
- Sto:lo Nation
- Sto:lo Tribal Council
- Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation
- Stz’uminus First Nation (Chemainus)
- Sucker Creek First Nation
- Treaty 8 Nations of Alberta
- Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation (Pavilion Indian Band)
- Tsawout First Nation
- Tsawwassen First Nation
- Tseycum First Nation
- Tŝilhqot’in National Government
- Tsartlip First Nation
- Asini Wachi Nehiyawak (Mountain Cree)
- Shackan Indian Band
- Sechelt Indian Government District (shíshálh)
- Akamihk Montana First Nation #139
- High Bar First Nation
- Adams Lake Indian Band
- Penticton Indian Band
- Kwaw’Kwaw’Apilt First Nation
- Lheidli T’enneh First Nation
- Musqueam Indian Band
- Métis Nation of Alberta Regional Council IV
The communities without agreements range in position from opposed to the project — often due to concerns about the environment and lack of meaningful consultation — to communities who have chosen not to engage with the company at all. Some communities are engaging with the project through employment opportunities, but haven’t signed agreements.
If you’re a journalist, we hope you can use the database to inform nuanced reporting and conversations. If you would like to embed the database in your story, email that aims to deepen the reporting on Indigenous communities affected by the Trans Mountain expansion project.