VANCOUVER — Some First Nations communities and Métis communities are determined to acquire an equity stake in the expansion project of the oil pipeline of Trans Mountain, in spite of the court’s decision to halt the project and possibly put it on ice for a few years.
The decision of the federal Court of appeal has overturned the approval of the project by the government, demanding that it investigates the impact of the increased circulation of oil and to consult more seriously with aboriginal groups who live along the pipeline route.
Aboriginal groups in Fort McMurray, Alberta, wish to always invest in the project and they believe that the judgment creates an opportunity for the government of prime minister Justin Trudeau a better view.
“There is no shortcut when we speak of consultation,” commented Brad Callihoo, chief executive officer of the First Nation Fort McMurray #468. “[The judgment] identifies a problem to solve. The consultation system is broken and we must fix it.”
Canada has bought the oil pipeline of Trans Mountain’s existing $ 4.5 billion and is committed to complete the expansion project, which is expected to triple the volume of oil transported. The capacity would increase to 890 000 barrels of oil per day, which would result in an increase in the number of tankers in the Burrard in the heart of Vancouver.
Several communities in the coastal and central British Columbia have filed lawsuits against the project, objecting to the lack of adequate consultation. While they were celebrating their victory in court, on the 30th of August on the shores of the bay, dozens of construction workers from the community of Brad Callihoo were sent home.
The indigenous communities of the both sides of the battle about the oil pipeline say they respect the positions of the opposing and do not feel of division between them. The First Nations will not always agree, but each deserves to be consulted seriously, insists the chief Callihoo.
“I think we can find a common ground for all First Nations? Absolutely. But you need to be able to sit at the table to meet the demands of the First Nations of British Columbia, as they have done for First Nations in Alberta.”
These are not all the aboriginal communities of British Columbia who oppose the project. Thirty-three communities have signed agreements of mutual benefits with Kinder Morgan before the federal government takes over. The chief of the First Nation Cheam, Ernie Crey, has expressed his interest to buy a stake in the company.
The objective of the First Nation, Fort McMurray has become autonomous and no longer depend on government subsidies for the next seven generations, explained his head. According to him, participation in the pipeline project would help to achieve this goal.
The Métis McMurray are already in full swing thanks to the economic opportunities created by the oil sands, ” says ceo Bill Loutitt, highlighting the high number of aboriginal graduates in the region. The group will also continue to claim a financial stake in the project, Trans Mountain, ensures its chief.
According to Mr. Loutitt, the Trudeau government should adopt a law to revive the site of any emergency. “The only thing that concerns us all, it is the environment,” says Loutitt. But to take care of the environment, it is necessary to be involved from the inside. It is here that one can make changes.”