Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Premier-designate Jason Kenney addresses the United Conservative caucus in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday, April 26, 2019. Mr. Kenney’s swearing-in is planned for April 30.

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

A number of Alberta First Nations are hopeful Jason Kenney’s election victory means that increased Indigenous ownership of pipelines will become reality, but that anticipation is being restrained by concerns about how much help the new premier-designate will provide.

Mr. Kenney has promised his United Conservatives will help Indigenous communities invest in resource projects, including pipelines, by creating a new $1-billion Crown corporation. The incoming premier’s commitment comes at a time when First Nations are receptive. The pipeline debate and the delivery of long-sought prosperity to isolated communities has dominated discussions around the chiefs’ table in recent months, according to Marlene Poitras, the Alberta regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations.

Chiefs are looking to balance a possible investment in the twinning of the federally owned Trans Mountain pipeline, which would transport Alberta’s oil to the Pacific coast, with concerns about climate change, she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“The climate-change crisis is an issue with a lot of the First Nations. They want to ensure the protection of the environment, particularly for the benefit and use of our future generations. That issue will come out as we move forward with pipelines, but on the other hand, First Nations have wanted to take advantage of the economic opportunities that everyone has enjoyed for the past 100 years,” Ms. Poitras said.

A First Nations-led group is putting together a bid to buy 51 per cent of Ottawa’s Trans Mountain pipeline, The Globe and Mail reported in March. All First Nations from Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia are being invited to join the $6.8-billion plan. The group hopes to get construction started on the expanded pipeline by giving Indigenous communities a financial stake in the project.

A different group is proposing to build a First Nations-led pipeline called Eagle Spirit, which would link the oil sands to the Pacific Ocean by crossing Northern B.C. to a port near Prince Rupert. Calvin Helin, the president of Eagle Spirit Energy Holding, says his company has secured 100-per-cent backing from local chiefs.

Mr. Helin said he believes Mr. Kenney’s proposal is “courageous” and will help First Nations develop their local economies. “One of the major unfinished pieces of business of Confederation is ensuring that Indigenous people are real economic partners. So that when projects impact their traditional territories they should be consulted with and included as stakeholders at the very outset,” he said.

Mr. Kenney’s proposed Aboriginal Opportunities Corporation could eventually provide technical and financial support to Indigenous communities looking to invest in either proposal.

Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom from the Woodland Cree First Nation said his community is waiting to see what kind of support Mr. Kenney will eventually provide, but he’s encouraged by the premier-designate’s support for Indigenous investment in pipelines.

Mr. Kenney’s swearing-in is planned for April 30.

Story continues below advertisement

“He is in definite support of Eagle Spirit and for me that’s an awesome thing,” said Mr. Laboucan-Avirom. “I’d like to sit and wait and see how things work out. Let’s see what happens when he’s sworn in.”

The chief said he recently ran into Mr. Kenney and discussed the UCP Leader’s proposal to sell Crown land in Northern Alberta. A number of chiefs have expressed concern about the party’s plan but Mr. Laboucan-Avirom said the premier-designate explained he would consult widely with First Nations before any land is sold.

Mr. Kenney, who spoke with The Globe before his election win, said the Crown corporation proposal is a “key moment” for Alberta. He said the plan follows a change of opinions among Alberta’s conservatives, who may not have considered a partnership with First Nations even five years ago.

“I think there’s been a change in the country’s attitude toward First Nations, the moral obligations we have in the spirit of reconciliation, and the practical need for real, serious allies among First Nations to get pipelines built.”

Chief Roy Fox of the Blood Tribe said his community is looking to invest in oil and gas, as well as alternative-energy projects, but has so far not shown much interest in pipelines.

“Because it is so unsure, pipeline investment in Canada is so unsure, we haven’t become that involved one way or the other," Mr. Fox said. “It remains to be seen what the new government is going to get involved in as far as working with Indigenous people.”

Story continues below advertisement

The community, south of Calgary, operates a number of oil wells and is in an area where several First Nations have collaborated with new wind-power projects. “We’re looking to meet with his cabinet, but not specifically about pipelines,” he added.

In a letter sent to First Nations on Thursday, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs warned that investments in Trans Mountain might be made without “a full and accurate account of the financial future of the project.”

He said the pipeline’s revenue, reported at around $200-million annually, would translate into little profit. The pipeline’s expected construction costs have also increased significantly before work is under way, from $6.8-billion in 2015 to $9.3-billion in 2018. “Opposition from other First Nations and lawsuits are almost certain to continue to cause delays and cost overruns,” Mr. Phillip wrote.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies