Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Elders forethought, Atleo's afterthought.

“We must be partners, not an afterthought.”

So read the headline published in the GLOBE AND MAIL, dated August 22, 2012 and written by Shawn Atleo.

I see Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), is again trying to assert some leadership. After all, even with signed Treaties across the country, he is a leader of arguably the most uncertain of the three defined aboriginal groups and arguably too, the most contentious when it comes to the issue of resource development. After all too, we don’t hear much from Metis and Inuit groups regarding resource development.

I wonder why?

Atleo, to his credit, says, “The federal government must work with First Nations to move away from the Indian Act, to honour and give life to inherent rights, title, and treaties.”

Is the Indian Act to blame for the current state of affairs with First Nations and resource development or are First Nations ancestors to blame?

We, Inuvialuit, of the Western Arctic were a part of the northern group who were to sign and be a signatory to Treaty 11. Back in the day, our elders felt it not advantageous for us as a people and therefore, rejected the terms of the conditions of Treaty 11. Good for them.

Fast forward to Atleo’s comments today, “We must be full participants in new sustainable and responsible economic opportunity. This is a path forward to prosperity, now and into the future.”


One of our goals of the 1984 Inuvialuit Final Agreement of the Western Arctic is, “to enable Inuvialuit to be equal and meaningful participants in the northern and national economy and society…”

Thanks to our Elders patient foresight in rejecting signing Treaty 11, the government was a binding signatory to our comprehensive land claim agreement. Now, resource development companies and the government have no issue engaging Inuvialuit early and engaging Inuvialuit often in any proposed resource development. And, we don’t make the news on a daily basis as Inuvialuit are meaningful participants in the northern and national economy. And, never an afterthought.

Perhaps, Atleo should be looking back to his ancestors to address the path to prosperity, now and into the future.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pipelines...a right-of-way that is not the right way?

As you know, the Enbridge Gateway and Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline proposals across British Columbia have been in the news for a while and will not go away for some time into the distant future.

Headlines include,       “Pipeline: Weighing the risks against the rewards,”
                                    “In case of accident,”
                                    “Living with the line,”
                                    “Beyond the protests, pipelines are a solid investment,”
                                    “Deadline imposed on Gateway review,”
                                    “Kinder Morgan’s $4.1 billion plan to push oil through southern B.C.,”
                                    “Pipeline feud in spotlight as oil-sands prospects dim,”
                                    “First Nations miffed with pipeline regulatory process,”

                                    …just to name a few.

Perhaps, with all the controversy, those companies need to think outside the box (or pipe)?

Enter the Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP), an already completed process with much Aboriginal support with the various land claims settled and a permit to build thanks to the National Energy Board (NEB).

Perhaps too, with all the controversy of the aforementioned pipeline proposals, those two companies especially Enbridge should think of “a northward course of empire.” As you may know too, the MGP is to one-day transport natural gas from the Mackenzie Delta in Canada’s western arctic to markets south to the oil sands of Alberta. Imperial Oil Limited is the lead proponent on the MGP which is to use a pipeline eventually built by TransCanada Pipelines (TPL).

Unfortunately, due to low gas prices, the MGP is on hold long-term with a right-of-way that might be the right way?

If Enbridge or even Kinder Morgan is looking for a proven less-controversial route to transport oil, why not pipe oil north down the Mackenzie river on to the Beaufort Sea, and gain the real gateway to the Orient? After all, the Aboriginal groups there are ready and willing along with the Government of the Northwest Territories looking to spark economic development. Furthermore, the natural gas of the Mackenzie Delta can then be used to fuel the project. Once oil hits the Arctic, it can be transported over to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. There, oil can then be transported via the Alaska Pipeline System, a long-standing operational pipeline that transports oil down to Valdez. And then to?...where else, the Orient where China is waiting.

The Gateway and TransMountain pipelines are controversial with no guarantees from the British Columbia government and the First Nations have threatened to “go to the wall” to defend and protect their aboriginal rights to the point of stalling the projects with a long-lasting court process.

The MGP route is a round about way but the idea is something Enbridge and Kinder Morgan should consider even if it will cost time and more money. After all, it’s likely time for the companies to think outside the box as their respective right-of-way may not be the right way.