Exhibition & Conference

13-16 September 2021

Singapore EXPO, Singapore

Strategic Programme

Karen Ogen-Toews

Chief Executive Officer

First Nations LNG Alliance

09:30 - 09:55

Thursday, 19 September 2019

S2.7 Meeting the Challenges of Economic Reconcilliation

"Stated simply, Canada will never be able to export its oil or natural gas into the Asia Pacific Basin unless it is by way of pipelines and port facilities that are owned, at least in part, by First Nation partners.”[2]This statement by former federal Cabinet minister and provincial premier Jim Prentice in 2017 succinctly captures the existential challenge facing energy transmission in western Canada.

The province of British Columbia is home to nearly 200 largely independent “First Nations” - groups of Indigenous people who hold a complex mix of unique constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty interests the lands and natural resources in the province. At the same time, most exist in varying states of economic and social marginalization that mirror third world realities. While participation in the economic benefits of natural gas transmission offers unprecedented opportunities for improving the quality of life in these First Nations, unresolved land claims, internal factional disputes and relentless opposition from well-funded Environmental NGOs threaten both this potential and the viability of the projects.

All of this has come together in recent months along the route of the CAN$6 billion Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. There a group of twenty First Nations has come together in a First Nations Liquified Natural Gas Alliance, each member of which has negotiated substantial impact benefits in return for meaningful participation and support of the project. These benefits are already flowing in the form of contractual participation in construction activities; however progress is being hindered by highly publicized internal governance issues and ongoing civil disobedience directed at the proponent. 

The paper will introduce the underlying and often uncertain character of Aboriginal rights and title and focus on the Alliance’s formation and approach to industrial development and controversy, as well as look to a hopeful future through lessons learned and anticipated next steps.

[1]Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Liquified Natural Gas Alliance and former Chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, British Columbia, Canada

[2]Prentice, Jim. Triple Crown: Winning Canada’s Energy Future2017 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. at 213