Who can deny that Canada doesn’t have some of the best natural resources in the world -- more than pristine parks, mountain landscapes and crystal-clear water. The abundance of farmland, aquaculture, forests, oil, natural gas, minerals and metals makes Canada a “land of opportunity” for many foreigners searching for jobs to create prosperity for themselves and their families.
Indigenous people within Canada want that opportunity as well.
Utilizing the natural resources on our lands will help our economy grow. However, despite the efforts of countless Indigenous groups to become economically independent from Canadian governments via natural resource development, the anti-pipeline, anti-oil and gas protestors remain. Also see:
- More "Celebrities" Continue Attacking Coastal GasLink, Overstepping Roles
- How Resource Development Can Help Indigenous Communities in Canada
- MYTH: Wet'suwet'en Do Not Support Coastal GasLink
Protestors Hurt Pro-Resource Communities
Anti-pipeline and energy protestors have held events around the country, detesting Canadian oil and gas as the “big bad wolf” of global energy and that these companies are hurting Indigenous communities at large. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Have the protestors who oppose the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion ever thought about the Indigenous communities supporting the project? Have they sought out the Indigenous coalitions looking to purchase a majority stake in TMX as they fight for own-source revenues to help bring their communities out of abject poverty?
Have the protestors who are supporting the handful of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs that oppose the Coastal GasLink project ever taken a step back to talk to the majority of Wet’suwet’en people who do support the pipeline?
The common trend is that only anti-pipeline voices seem to matter. But the majority of Indigenous communities who support the responsible development of natural resources on their lands also need to be heard – and they are now speaking up!
Life for an urban Indigenous person is very different than that of an Indigenous person living in rural Canada. A rural lifestyle on reserve, for example, is often subject to much more hardship and there are fewer job opportunities to go around.
Pipelines Benefit Indigenous Communities
Pipelines such as TMX and CGL are proving to be major boons for remote Indigenous communities across Canada.
CGL, for example, just recently partnered with 16 First Nations along the pipeline’s route, signing an equity agreement that gives these groups a 10 per cent ownership stake in the project. And that’s on top of the countless job opportunities and billions of dollars of economic activity already generated for Indigenous communities.
The Trans Mountain expansion is yet another shining example of the lengthy measures these projects are undertaking to include Indigenous communities affected by the pipeline as much as possible. Apart from thousands of jobs for Indigenous peoples and billions of dollars spent on sourcing goods and services from Indigenous-owned businesses created by TMX, Indigenous coalitions are lining up to buy a majority stake in the pipeline project.
A few quick facts on Indigenous communities and oil and gas pipelines in Canada:
> TMX says that 11 per cent of its workforce is Indigenous
> TMX has signed nearly 4,000 contracts with Indigenous businesses to date
> TMX has spent more than $2.7 billion with Indigenous businesses to date
> CGL said that more than 350 Indigenous men and women, including Wet’suwet’en community members, were working on the project as of January 2020, representing a quarter of the project’s workforce.
> CGL has spent more than $825 million on contracts awarded to Indigenous and local companies
> CGL says that $1 billion in employment and contract opportunities are available for Indigenous and local communities
Economic Reconciliation is Attainable
There once was a time when the name “Greenpeace” and planting trees amid peaceful camp scenarios were synonymous with one another. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said today.
ENGOs such as Greenpeace are increasingly using deceptive tactics to discredit anyone or anything that tries to go against their anti-Canadian resource narratives.
Thankfully, the anti-pipeline, anti-energy, anti-everything crowd doesn’t represent the majority of Canadians, and certainly not the majority of Indigenous people in Canada either.
Empathy for the unjustified and generational trauma that many Indigenous Canadians have endured over the years is growing. Realizing that economic reconciliation is real, the opportunity to gain own-source revenues and have Indigenous communities lift themselves out of poverty is now possible.
Call It What You Want…
Anti-Canadian pipeline activists don’t have the best interests of most Indigenous people at heart. A majority of Indigenous communities in Canada want the opportunity to support their families, enjoy their culture and help their communities thrive through job creation, entrepreneurship, education, skills, training and partnerships, all of which can be attained through responsible natural resource development.
I hope these anti-Canadian pipeline protesters are not trying to deliberately keep Indigenous people and communities oppressed when the opportunity to grow our economies and see our cultures flourish is so close.
About the Author
Estella Petersen is a heavy machinery operator in the oil sands out of Fort McMurray. Estella is from the Cowessess Reserve and is passionate about Canada and supporting Canadian natural resources.
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