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History, Controversy & Indigenous Involvement – Death of Keystone XL

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For many, few stories have been as captivating and as frustrating as that of the stop-and-start Keystone XL pipeline project, which appears to officially be reaching its end following the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. 

The Keystone XL pipeline extension was originally proposed by TC Energy in 2008 as the 4th phase of the existing Keystone Pipeline System, which traverses Canada and the United States. The 1,947 km pipeline would run from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, dramatically increasing the transportation capacity of Alberta crude oil to 830,000 barrels per day. 

The National Energy Board first approved the Keystone XL application in March 2010, with a number of conditions in place to protect environmental and landowner interests.
Opposition towards the project developed quickly, largely on the basis of environmental concerns. Environmental assessments released by the U.S. State Department, which established the pipeline would have “limited environmental impact”, were met with public backlash and mass protests.
In 2011, the State Department required TC Energy (then TransCanada) to reroute the pipeline around an “ecologically sensitive” area in Nebraska, to which TC Energy agreed.

In January 2012, President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL, but invited TC to submit another application, which was done in May 2012.
Following another 3 years of legislative debate, protest and controversial back and forth, Obama vetoed the bill to build the Keystone XL on February 24, 2015.
On November 6, 2015, the Obama Administration once again rejected TC Energy’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

In this context, tensions continued to rise, as massive amounts of money and potential jobs hung in the balance with no end in sight. In 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump included the Keystone XL in his campaign, vowing to approve it if elected as President of the United States.

Following his election in November 2016, President Trump signed an executive order approving the Keystone XL pipeline, along with an order requiring American pipelines be built with American steel.
In late 2018, the pipeline’s construction was delayed once again by a U.S. federal judge, citing environmental impact.

Construction resumed in April 2020, following a pledge from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to invest CAD$1.5 billion in the project in March 2020. Outrage from environmental and Indigenous groups continued in the wake of the announcement.

In May 2020, then-presumed presidential nominee Joe Biden shared plans to shutdown the Keystone XL as a part of his campaign. (1)

It is January 2021, and Biden has indeed followed through on his claim to scrap the pipeline. To the outrage of many Albertans and their fellow Canadians, one of Biden’s first executive orders as President of the United States, just hours after his inauguration, was to revoke TC Energy’s permit for the Keystone XL. 

As of December 2020, more than 150 kilometres of pipeline had already been installed. According to Financial Post, the cancellation leaves behind approximately 48,000 tons of steel.

Biden’s decision has served to deepen the division between pro and anti-pipeline groups, including the opposing positions expressed by a number of Canadian Indigenous groups.
Over the course of the past decade, Indigenous opposition to the pipeline has been well documented through a series of protests and petitions, featuring countless Canadians who rallied in support of First Nations groups, environmental concerns and land rights. 

In 2016, Donald Trump’s renewed approval of the pipeline was met with equally renewed opposition by those groups determined to halt the project once and for all. “The fight to kill the Keystone XL pipeline begins anew,” said Dallas Goldtooth, lead organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network in 2017, “and Donald Trump should expect far greater resistance than ever before.” 

On the other side of this opposition, the historic formation of the Natural Law Energy coalition came as a shock to many. Natural Law Energy (NLE) is a coalition of First Nations groups who expressed their support for the Keystone XL pipeline by pursuing investment opportunities with TC Energy. Little Pine First Nation, Louis Bull Tribe, Nekaneet Cree First Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation and Akamihk Montana Cree First Nation came together to form the coalition with the ambition of providing First Nations groups with financial resources and opportunities.

For Chief Alvin Francis of Nekaneet First Nation in Saskatchewan, the pipeline presented an opportunity to secure funding for indigenous communities and aid indigenous youth in their schooling or business endeavors for years to come. “It’s about making life better for all of our youth,” he told the Globe and Mail in November 2020.
Just as Indigenous anti-pipeline groups celebrate the latest development, Biden’s executive order to cancel the pipeline once again has been met with disappointment from members of the NLE and its supporters. 

Recent developments over the multi-billion dollar Keystone XL have also led to heated discussions between the Kenney Administration and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Kenney’s response to the Canadian Federal Government as well as the Biden Administration was one of absolute disappointment and anger, as Alberta’s oil and gas industry sustained another massive hit. He went as far as to call upon Trudeau to impose economic sanctions on the United States. 

While many have echoed Kenney’s sentiments regarding the cancellation of the pipeline and the Biden Administrations early treatment of Canada and the province of Alberta, others have identified this development as an opportunity for Alberta to diversify. Under the current economic circumstances, can Alberta overcome the loss of the Keystone XL? Should Alberta focus on diversifying? Given the ongoing global shift towards renewable energy technology, can we afford not to? 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith promises bill protecting rights to refuse vaccines is coming

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

The plan is to introduce an amended Bill of Rights this fall that includes protections for individuals’ personal medical decisions.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has promised that the province’s Bill of Rights will be amended this fall so that there are protections added for people’s personal medical decisions that most likely will include one having the right to refuse a vaccine.

Smith’s promise to add protections for personal choice on vaccinations comes because of the COVID jab mandates put in place for a time in Alberta under former Premier Jason Kenney.

Speaking to Albertans at a recent town hall in Bonnyville, Smith said that the COVID crisis resulted in many people being discriminated against for their own medical decisions and that “it shouldn’t have happened.”

Smith, who leads the United Conservative Party (UCP), said that she believes “every person has to be able to do their own assessment, their own health assessment, to be able to make those decisions.”

The original plan by Smith was to add protections for one’s vaccine status directly Alberta Human Rights Act (AHRA). However, this plan was nixed after she was advised by Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel chair Preston Manning that this was not the right legislation for an additional protection.

Instead, Smith promised that a better “law” dealing directly with vaccine status will be forthcoming.

On Monday, Smith confirmed on X that an updated version of the Bill of Rights is coming.

“It’s time. Let’s get this done,” she wrote.

Last year, Smith, as reported by LifeSiteNews, promised to enshrine into “law” protections for people in her province who choose not to be vaccinated as well as strengthen gun rights and safeguard free speech by beefing up the provincial Bill of Rights.

On Smith’s first day on the job and only minutes after being sworn in, she said that during the COVID years the “unvaccinated” were the “most discriminated against” group of people in her lifetime.

She took over from Kenney as leader of the UCP on October 11, 2022, after winning the party leadership. The UCP then won a general election in May 2023. Kenney was ousted due to low approval ratings and for reneging on promises not to lock Alberta down during COVID.

Smith promptly fired the province’s top doctor, Deena Hinshaw, and the entire Alberta Health Services board of directors, all of whom oversaw the implementation of COVID mandates.

Under Kenney, thousands of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and government workers lost their jobs for choosing to not get the jabs.

While Smith has not said much regarding the COVID shots since taking office, she has allowed her caucus members to have broad views when it comes to known safety issues related to the jabs.

UCP MLA Eric Bouchard hosted a sold-out event titled “An Injection of Truth” that featured prominent doctors and experts speaking out against COVID vaccines and mandates.

“Injection of Truth” included well-known speakers critical of COVID mandates and the shots, including Dr. Byram BridleDr. William Makis, canceled doctor Mark Trozzi and pediatric neurologist Eric Payne.

The COVID shots were heavily promoted by the federal government and all provincial governments in Canada, with the Alberta government under Kenney being no exception.

The mRNA shots have been linked to a multitude of negative and often severe side effects in children.

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Alberta

Scotia Place – Calgary unveils design for new arena / events centre

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News release from the City of Calgary

Scotia Place, Calgary’s new event centre, designed as a place for community where there is room for everyone

The City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) are excited to reveal the design for Calgary’s new event centre – formally named Scotia Place.

The design is influenced by the ancestral and historical land of Indigenous Peoples and the culturally significant site that embodies our shared purpose – to gather. It brings together Indigenous cultural perspectives with Calgary’s and the region’s natural beauty, reflecting the four elements of nature – fire, ice, land and air.

A striking feature of the building is the central structure with a textured flame motif that emulates a home fire, which is further amplified when it is lit at night. The home fire, a place of warmth and energy that brings people together to share stories of the past and create stories for the future, rises from the white, glacial-like forms that define the lower parts of the building.

“When you consider that Calgary is already the envy of other cities with a new world-class convention centre in the heart of the Culture + Entertainment District, the addition of Scotia Place is another signal to investors that our city understands how to build a future that leverages hospitality and hosting as its core strengths,” says Mayor Jyoti Gondek. “We are also acknowledging and honouring the foundational role that Indigenous communities have played for generations in making Calgary, and now Scotia Place, a space where we all belong.”

Scotia Place, which is scheduled to open in fall 2027, celebrates the area’s importance as a place for all and will be a landmark attraction in Calgary’s emerging Culture + Entertainment District. More than a building, however, the 10-acre city block is designed for community and connection and includes a community rink, outdoor and indoor plazas spaces, four restaurants, the Calgary Flames Team Store, and future development opportunity in the northeast corner. It will provide gathering places and amenities for the 8,000 people who will live in this new downtown neighbourhood.

“Calgary has a long history of hosting world-class events, drawing millions of visitors to the city each year, generating revenue for local businesses, and boosting the economy,” says Danielle Smith, Premier of the Province of Alberta. “With construction on the Calgary Rivers District and Event Centre now underway, Calgary is one step closer to a revitalized downtown that will bring new energy into the city, attract more exciting events, and create jobs to improve the quality of life for Calgarians.”

A development permit application for the facility was submitted on July 19, 2024. This was a significant milestone for the project team, consisting of CAA ICON, HOK-DIALOG, and CANA/Mortenson. People interested in following or commenting on the permit can find the application at Calgary.ca/dmap. The application is expected to be heard by the Calgary Planning Commission by end of 2024.

“This is an important day for Calgary,” says Councillor Sonya Sharp, Event Centre Committee Chair. “Today is about so much more than the designs of a building. Today is the unveiling of a place where Calgarians and visitors from around the world will make memories at concerts, and sport and community events. I hope that everyone is as excited as we are, knowing that Scotia Place will become the complete experience in our new Culture & Entertainment District.”

“At CSEC, a key component of our mission is to be the heartbeat of our community, create connections and bring people together,” said Robert Hayes, CSEC President and CEO. “Scotia Place will become the perfect home to achieve and share this mission with all Calgarians. Seeing the design brings the vision of so many contributors to life. We are especially thankful to the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta for their leadership and support to help bring us to this point. In stride with our partner Scotiabank, we are very proud to play our role in presenting Scotia Place as the culmination of diligence and passion, that is now visual in this breathtakingly beautiful and meaningful facility.”

“For years we have seen firsthand the value these partnerships bring to the communities in which we operate and for our clients,” said Aris Bogdaneris, Group Head, Canadian Banking of Scotiabank. “Scotia Place introduces a bold new vision for what will be Alberta’s premier sports and entertainment venue. For nearly 20 years, Scotiabank has been a proud partner of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation and together, we are committed to bring fans and our clients an unforgettable experience when they walk through the doors of Scotia Place.”

“We are excited to start the construction of the critical infrastructure needed to build thousands of new homes and to make the Calgary’s new Culture + Entertainment district a reality,” says Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors. “Albertans expect basic infrastructure to be maintained and improved and this commitment from the province goes a long way in helping Calgary build these projects.”

Acknowledging the significance of the building’s location at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers on the ancestral land of the Treaty 7 Peoples and the Metis Nation, The City, CSEC, HOK-DIALOG and CAA ICON worked with an Indigenous Advisory Group that included representatives from the Treaty 7 Nations, the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, and the Urban Indigenous community throughout the design process.

“It was great to be part of a truly representative voice that included all indigenous peoples of southern Alberta regarding the design of this center acknowledging the historic significance of the land it sits on to the Metis people,” said Carmen Lasante Captain of the Calgary Elbow Metis District. “Inclusivity is a core part of who the Metis are. The City has worked hard to include many diverse histories together in creating this space.”

“Engaging in the right way is fundamental to the success of relationship development with the Indigenous communities, as we have played a critical role in the identity of the land now known as the city of Calgary as the Indigenous nations are inextricable linked to the landscape and environment,” says Ira Provost, Piikani Nation Consultation

A key theme heard often during the Indigenous engagement sessions was “Come in, there is room”, making it clear that Scotia Place needs to be a place that is designed for all.

The public plazas are designed to honour the deep-rooted connection that Indigenous Peoples have with the land, incorporating representations of the tipi, Métis Trapper’s Tent, and elements of Alberta’s world-renown natural landscape.

An important design decision was to lower the event and ice surface so that the primary concourse will be at street-level. Calgarians and visitors will be able to move seamlessly between the curb, the primary concourse and the outdoor public plazas.

“We at DIALOG are thrilled to join forces with HOK and combine our unique expertise to transform Calgary’s Event Centre into the catalyst for a dynamic new urban community,” says Doug Cinnamon, Partner Architect at DIALOG.

“Other design principles including public realm activation, the integration of indigenous influences, public art & storytelling, sustainability, and a balance between past, present, and future is central to our vision. The ultimate goal is to ensure seamless accessibility, promote mixed uses, and create vibrant public areas for everyone to enjoy. This joint redesign represents an opportunity to spur investment into the area and enhance its cultural vitality, anchoring Calgary’s position as a thriving, bustling community hub.”

Scotia Place is a generational investment in Calgary’s emerging vibrant Culture + Entertainment District. A modern event centre with universal accessible design throughout and with energy and water conservation built in to maximize efficiencies and the ability to be net-zero by 2050, Scotia place is designed to serve Calgary’s growing community for decades to come.

Construction begins this week. Additional information about Scotia Place including design renderings, a video, and frequently asked questions is available on Calgary.ca/ScotiaPlace.

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