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Alberta

INDUSTRY-INDIGENOUS RELATIONS: A TREND TOWARD DEEPER ENGAGEMENT

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9 minute read

INDUSTRY-INDIGENOUS RELATIONS: A TREND TOWARD DEEPER ENGAGEMENT

The Canadian oil and natural gas industry has a strong history of engagement with Indigenous peoples. Since its early initiatives, the petroleum sector has had many learnings and opportunities for growth with respect to its interactions with Indigenous communities. Consequently, these relationships have evolved towards ever-deepening forms of engagement including consultation and business partnerships. However, the nature of these relationships has been difficult to communicate with credibility; arrangements between companies and communities are often confidential, thus limiting the ability of industry to share positive stories of engagement.

 The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), an association that represents Canada’s oil and natural gas producers, has utilized multiple surveys of its members in order to better understand the relationship between industry and Indigenous peoples. One of these surveys, known as the Telling Our Story survey, was commissioned by CAPP and conducted by Dr. Ken Coates of the University of Saskatchewan. Additionally, CAPP developed its own survey focused on procurement, community investment and consultation capacity funding in the oil sands. These surveys provide data that demonstrate the value producers place on building long-term, sustainable relationships with Indigenous communities. In particular, economic engagement is viewed as a primary opportunity to establish good relations and support Indigenous self- determination.

Survey Methodology

The purpose of the Telling Our Story survey was to collect information about the oil and natural gas industry’s efforts to engage Indigenous communities. Research was conducted by Dr. Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Coates used a comprehensive survey of industry representatives, in partnership with CAPP, plus CAPP’s member companies and partner associations including the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, and the Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors. A total of 122 companies participated in the study, representing a cross-section of the oil and natural gas industry in Canada. Data was collected in a confidential manner, anonymized and aggregated into a final report. The survey highlighted key themes related to industry’s engagement with Indigenous communities.

Consultation and Community Engagement

Companies within the oil and natural gas industry have developed long-term relationships with communities, and these relationships are multifaceted. Of course, a core aspect of relationship-building takes place through consultation processes. The trend toward consultation accelerated in 2004 with the Supreme Court of Canada decision on Haida Nation v. British Columbia, which determined the Crown has a duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous peoples when making a decision that could affect their constitutional rights. Procedural aspects of this duty can be delegated   to   industry, and now industry conducts the majority of project consultations. Survey respondents noted that today, companies are actively engaged in this process, seeking to ensure meaningful, two-way discussion in consultations. CAPP members indicated that they view these relationships formed through consultation as critically important to their business. Many companies have teams of staff dedicated to consulting and building relationships with communities, and funding is often provided to support community capacity to engage in consultations. A separate survey of CAPP’s oil sands members found that between 2015 and 2016, oil sands operators provided $40.79 million for consultation capacity funding to local Indigenous communities.

Associated with consultations are a variety of forms of engagement. CAPP’s members placed particular value on supporting various community activities, social and cultural priorities, and infrastructure needs. The aforementioned survey of oil sands members found that between 2015 and 2016 operators in the region spent $48.6 million on Indigenous community investment. According to companies, these focused investments positively impact relationships. Furthermore, there has been a trend toward the negotiation of long- term, collaborative agreements between project proponents and Indigenous communities in areas of operation that address community concerns and include clauses related to procurement, employment, community investment, dispute resolution, capacity funding and other topics of importance to the proponent and the community.

Economic Engagement

According to oil and natural gas producers, there is a strong emphasis on economic engagement as the priority in building relationships. In particular, procurement – the purchasing of goods and services from Indigenous businesses – presents a significant opportunity for mutual benefit. Both joint venture partnerships and preferential contracting arrangements with Indigenous-owned companies enable companies to build links and trust with communities. The focus on these arrangements is evidenced by substantial financial investment: in 2015 to 2016, oil sands producers spent $3.3 billion on procurement from 399 Indigenous owned- companies in 65 Alberta communities. While a sizable proportion of Indigenous businesses may be small or new, the data suggests their role in the sector will continue to increase.

This type of engagement allows Indigenous peoples to leverage their own expertise, build capacity, and ultimately establish pathways to prosperity. In this regard, industry can play an important role in supporting successful, self-determining communities. Although procurement was ranked most highly in terms of its benefit to the relationship between producers and communities, there are other forms of economic engagement; a number of companies have Indigenous recruitment strategies and support training programs intended to build the technical skillset of Indigenous employees and contractors.

Conclusion

The research commissioned by CAPP highlights the emphasis that oil and natural gas sector companies place on meaningful consultation, partnerships, and in particular, economic engagement. Industry has made strides in building deeper partnerships, and it is expected that the trend toward more meaningful engagement will continue. As an industry association, CAPP believes the oil and natural gas sector has an important role in tangibly advancing reconciliation together with Indigenous peoples in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 92. CAPP believes its role in reconciliation can be described as identifying and finding feasible ways to share economic opportunities arising from resource development, while continuing to learn, grow and improve strong relationships based on trust, respect, and open communication. Industry’s understanding will continue to develop, and the sector is open to further dialogue in order to inform its understanding of industry’s role in reconciliation.

Thanks to Todayville for helping us bring our members’ stories of collaboration and innovation to the public.

Click to read a foreward from JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Click to read comments about this series from Jacob Irving, President of the Energy Council of Canada.

Jacob Irving, President of Energy Council of Canada

The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual initiative by the Energy Council of Canada to provide an opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration and discussion on current topics in Canada’s energy sector.  The 2020 Canadian Energy Compendium: Innovations in Energy Efficiency is due to be released November 2020.

 

Click below to read more stories from Energy Council of Canada’s Compendium series.

Read more on Todayville.

 

ECONOMIC RECONCILIATION IS A PRIORITY AT ENBRIDGE

PETER SUTHERLAND SR GENERATING STATION POWERS NORTHEAST ONTARIO

The Energy Council of Canada brings together a diverse body of members, including voices from all energy industries, associations, and levels of government within Canada. We foster dialogue, strategic thinking, collaboration, and action by bringing together senior energy executives from all industries in the public and private sectors to address national, continental, and international energy issues.

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Alberta

Coal policy decisions belong with politicians, not courts, Alberta lawyer argues

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CALGARY — An Alberta government lawyer says decisions about environmental policy should be made by elected officials, not the courts.

Melissa Burkett is speaking at a court hearing that is to decide whether a request for a judicial review into Alberta’s decision to revoke a policy protecting the Rocky Mountains from coal mining can proceed. 

She says the decision revoked a policy, not a law or a regulation, and was entirely within the responsibility of Energy Minister Sonya Savage.

She says when the policy was first adopted in 1976 it anticipated a thorough regulatory process, which now exists in the province. 

Burkett argues that because the Alberta Energy Regulator would review any mine application, revoking the coal policy made little difference. 

Savage revoked the policy last May without any public consultation, which area ranchers and First Nations say violated laws that have incorporated its guidelines. 

The decision has been widely criticized, with petitions opposing it gathering more than 100,000 signatures.  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Crown to oppose bail for teen charged in hit-and-run death of Calgary officer

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CALGARY — A bail hearing is set for today for a teen accused in the death of a Calgary police officer, who was killed while trying to make a routine traffic stop on New Year’s Eve.

Police have said Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was 37, was hit and dragged while attempting to stop an SUV with plates that didn’t match. 

Paramedics and fellow officers tried to revive Harnett, but he died in hospital nearly an hour later. 

Police charged two people with first-degree murder: a 17-year-old boy, the alleged driver of the SUV, and a 19-year-old man, who is believed to have been a passenger.

The Crown, which has said a first-degree murder charge is automatic in the death of a police officer, has indicated it will be opposing bail.

The accused youth has since turned 18, but he cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The co-accused in the case, Amir Abdulrahman, is to appear in court Feb. 4.

Harnett had been with the Calgary Police Service for 12 years. Before joining the force, he was a military police officer with the Canadian Forces. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2021

The Canadian Press

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