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Alberta, Mar 28 (Canadian-Media): A discuss on Indigenous ownership of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was held during the meeting of Bill Morneau, Federal Finance Minister with Chief Calvin Bruneau and other leaders from Iron Coalition, on Wednesday, media reports said.
Bill Morneau (Ctre)/Facebook Calvin Bruneau/Facebook
'Part of reconciliation is to have First Nations ownership, especially in energy projects,' said Bruneau when Iron Coalition expressed optimism about its chances of one day owning the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.
Iron Coalition is an Alberta Indigenous group co-chaired by Alexis, Chief Calvin Bruneau of the Papaschase First Nation in Edmonton, and Ron Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Métis, had support from different First Nations and Métis throughout the province.
Although Morneau made it clear that his focus was on moving the project forward and not on selling the pipeline, Bruneau felt optimistic about his ownership and told Morneau his group's intention was to have a large of an equity stake.
"Dialogue is started and we know that when things do proceed then we can look at further discussion down the road."
The proposed Trans Mountain expansion pipeline -- which intended to ship oilsands crude from Edmonton (Alberta) to the Vancouver (British Columbia) area for export -- had been stalled after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in late August as it needed to have more consultation with First Nations.
The National Energy Board was also instructed to explore the potential environmental impacts from increased marine shipping. Members of Parliament (MPS0 in Ottawa also needed to finally decide on the NEB's revised report
Along the pipeline route, many First Nations have signed benefit agreements to support the project, while others have resisted and tried to stop progress through protests and legal challenges.
First Nations opposed to the proposed pipeline project want to protect their land and waterways and have concerns about a potential oil spill, including the impact on salmon and other marine life. They also worry about how the project will contribute to climate change.
"Here, we're also concerned about the environment as well," Bruneau said. "We have to have those discussions with those nations ... to meet with them, see if we can ease some of their concerns and figure a way to work this all through."
The economic benefits of the proposed pipeline must also be considered, said Bruneau, since exporting more oil will help many of the First Nations in Western Canada that have oil production on their land.
"What we want to do is, over the next couple of years, be meeting with these groups and look at trying to unite and form one big coalition," said Bruneau.
"Part of reconciliation is to have First Nation's ownership, especially in energy projects, because that really hasn't been something that's been there before."