Canada must do more to engage aboriginals on pipelines -report

Thu Dec 5, 2013 6:09pm EST
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By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada must do more to build trust with aboriginal communities to win their support for resource projects such as oil pipelines and natural gas terminals, a government report said on Thursday.

"There has not been a constructive dialogue about energy projects. Aboriginal leaders are prepared to engage and Canada will need to address issues on their agenda," Douglas Eyford, the federal government's special representative on west coast energy infrastructure, said in the 58-page report.

Eyford was appointed in March to look at ways of boosting energy exports while increasing aboriginal participation in the economy.

Canada has long had poor relations with its million-strong native Indian population, which is largely beset with poverty, poor housing and high unemployment.

Unhappiness is growing and, over the last year, aboriginal bands have blockaded roads and rail lines and barricaded entry to mining and energy projects.

Many aboriginal bands strongly dislike Enbridge Corp's plans for the Northern Gateway pipeline to take crude from the Alberta tar sands to the Pacific Coast of British Columbia and then on to Asian customers.

Some oppose the pipeline on environmental grounds, while others complain the government has long ignored laws that say they must be consulted on industrial development.

"Canada must take decisive steps to build trust with aboriginal Canadians, to foster their inclusion into the economy, and to advance the reconciliation of aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people," Eyford said.   Continued...

Pipelines carrying steam to wellheads and heavy oil back to the processing plant line the roads and boreal forest at the Cenovus Energy Christina Lake Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) project 120 km (74 miles) south of Fort McMurray, Alberta, August 15, 2013. Cenovus currently produces 100,000 barrels of heavy oil per day at their Christina Lake tar sands project. REUTERS/Todd Korol