Oilsands benefit First Nations

Some of the "scant evidence" of the environmental impacts of the Tar Sands referred to by Quesnel, trucks the size of houses haul earth from the Tar Sands.

Some of the “scant evidence” of the environmental impacts of the Tar Sands referred to by Quesnel; trucks the size of houses haul earth from the Tar Sands.

Protestors show ignorance of reality of oilsands development

By Joseph Quesnel, Winnipeg Sun, January 31, 2014

Aboriginal peoples benefit from oilsands development.  That was the one reality missed by protesters at a recent lecture at the University of Winnipeg involving Phil Fontaine.

Fontaine was unable to finish his address to the crowd as he was drowned out by drumming and shouting. The University of Winnipeg has announced they will re-schedule the event.

Protesters were upset that Fontaine has accepted a position with TransCanada.

They were also protesting TransCanada’s pipeline projects.

“How dare you, Phil!” said Jo Seenie, one protester at the event. “On your own people? Anishinaabe people? How dare you sell us out to work for the enemy that’s destroying this Earth?”

Fontaine's speech disrupted at University of Winnipeg event, Jan 22, 2014.

Fontaine’s speech disrupted at University of Winnipeg event, Jan 22, 2014.

The enemy? Destroying the Earth? Really?

The data shows that Aboriginal peoples have benefitted from oilsands development to the tune of billions of dollars.

According to one report by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, there were more than 1,700 Aboriginal employees in permanent operations jobs in the oilsands industry in 2010.

During the past 14 years, Aboriginal companies have earned more than $8 billion in revenue through working relationships with the oilsands industry.

In 2011 and 2012, oilsands companies contributed more than $20 million to aboriginal communities in the Wood Buffalo and Lac La Biche regions (where the oilsands are located) for school and youth programs, celebrations, cultural events, literacy projects and other community programs.

Wood Buffalo and Lac La Biche Aboriginal companies performed more than $1.8 billion in contract work with OSDG member companies in 2012.

The Fort McKay Group of Companies (FMGC), which works extensively with oilsands companies through its six limited companies, brings in more than $100 million in revenue annually and is completely owned and controlled by the Fort McKay First Nation.

Shell alone, as a single operator of the Athabasca Oilsands Project, has spent more than $1.25 billion with Aboriginal contractors since 2006.

All of this does not include all of the scholarships and bursaries that are made available to Aboriginal students through oilsands producers.

Those are educational opportunities provided to First Nations and Metis students in some of the most remote communities.

Clearly, when it comes to the relations between Aboriginal communities and the oilsands developers, we are only hearing one side of the story.

Tar Sands factory complex in Alberta.

A Tar Sands factory complex in northern Alberta.

There is also scant evidence that the oilsands represent a threat to the air, water or soil quality of the affected regions. First Nations along the pipeline’s route must also be consulted and accommodated, so they will benefit in the end.

Besides the great disrespect shown to Fontaine by not allowing him to speak, these protesters showed a profound ignorance of how Aboriginal peoples already benefit from oilsands companies.

The only images we see are of protesters drumming and holding placards. We almost never see images of the many Aboriginal peoples who work in the oilsands. They are a silent segment of the population that go about their day quietly earning a living. No one is providing them with a megaphone to air their views.

It’s sad because the oilsands are a convenient target these days, despite their minuscule contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.

Ill-informed celebrities gallivant around Canada and all over the world protesting the oilsands, while ignoring worse polluters.

Perhaps during Fontaine’s re-scheduled talk at the University of Winnipeg, someone will be able to tell the complete truth about Aboriginal peoples and the oilsands.

— Joseph Quesnel is a policy analyst with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. http://www.fcpp.org 


* Warrior Publications Note: Aside from his pro-industry stance and minimizing of the environmental impacts of the Tar Sands, Quesnel brings up some interesting numbers in regards to Aboriginal collaboration in the oil and gas industry, especially by band councils in the region.

Posted on January 31, 2014, in Indian Act Indians, Oil & Gas and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Hereditary Chief Kahkakew Yawassanay

    The amount of revenues stated that Indigenous ppl have benefitted from the petrochemical industry is peanuts in comparision to the hundreds of billions the private sector and non native governments are and will be receiving. Breeds like Fontaine and all the other sellouts like him such Gerow, former half breed haida elected chief Mills are but a few more. examples of how ridiculous and unaccountable the elected INAC system cheifs and councillors remains after 140 years. Other elected thieves like Redman, Fox, Nepinak who travel around the americas and world on their own ppls dime while spewing out rhetoric of treaties, lies about attending unattainable numberss of meetings where they were paid multiple honorarias and mileage claims only highlight the futility and absurdity of elected band, tribal, provincial and federal Indigenous governments. These former elected crooks like Fontaine always looking for the next free ride…how long has Art Manuel milked the inherent rights meal ticket?…now certain INM founders are following in line and it has become so bad no one can trust anyone in elected or appointed authority…only our authentic and inherent hereditary clanmothers and lifetime chiefs have any credibility…with the exception of a certain subclan headman from Ahousat FN currently mascaraing as AFN national chief..the same man who insulted 3 lifetime cree cheifs telling them the elected band councils authority supercedes any hereditary clanmothers and lifetime chiefs…….so sit back and watch too many current and former councillors lining up for the petrochemical gravy train…regardless of the revenue source they will be more than willing to liaise with their own kind in an ongoing effort to buy us off for beads and trinkets..just ask Ft. Mckay how much of their lands are pollution free….like Fontaine their sellout elected chief Boucher will say anything to keep the tarsands revenues flowing inspite of the cancers, polluted water, extremely low water tables, wild life with tumors and heavy metals all the way up to the Mackenzie delta killing and infecting thousands…Fontaine is lucly all they did was shout him down..

  2. If oil sands is benefiting aboriginals, then, how come so many communities are still in shabby conditions. Who is getting all the so called $billions.

  3. I waz like OMC they are letting Quesnel spin his conservative crap here? but then the point at the end waz oh yes dat stuffs!

  4. So this is supposed to be news? Native people are human beings like everyone else. The money rules. As far as Quesnel goes he’s an apologetic lackey for a sick industry what do you expect him to say. Any human being that can look at those tar sands and not see desecration is sick. Its a choice to accept the money and work in that industry. One I would not make.

  5. Will also add that we are all players in this slippery slope and the degradation of the mother earth,air and water. If we drive a car, have a cell phone,computer etc. we are involved. The elders told me a long time ago we have two ways to walk on this earth. Technological or spiritual and most of us have opted for the former. There is a price to pay living this way,disease,pollution and imbalance. The earth will do what she needs to do and we will pay the price. Its very sad to watch it play out, it could have been very different if we had followed our elders advice.

  6. As an Arab, i would warn any natives against this pro Industrial stance.
    It is just the storry that we arabs hear every day – that European Companies, working on our soil, led by europeans, benefit us, because the people of that area are allowed to work there for minimal wages until they get sick because of a lack of security at work, while a few capitalists from both nations share the biggest part of the income.

    Any Uncle Tom, working for capital, destroying the very Soil his people live on should be confronted!
    Wherever on this one Earth it happens.

    With that, i wish the native comunity of Canada best Luck, hope you have more success in achieving your goals than we had.

  7. Harper’s ‘Canada Loves Israel’ junket is already yielding bitter fruit:

    ‘The Canada-Israel Energy R&D Workshop and Technology Partnering Mission’ – “CIIRDF marks the launch of the Canada-Israel Energy S & T Fund in Tel Aviv. Israeli technology firms target Canada’s lucrative energy market, and seek to capitalize on business and funding opportunity. Israeli innovation for Canada’s oil sands…”

    Get ready. Here they come…

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