Energy for a Secure Future (ESF) recently attended the annual conference of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC) in Vancouver, BC from April 23-26, 2023. ESF was proud to be a sponsor of this event, which brought together over 1,500 participants to learn about best practices and models for Indigenous participation and equity ownership in major projects, from energy to mining to transportation and supply chains.
ESF was active in two initiatives. Its Chair, Shannon Joseph, convened a roundtable with US Ambassador to Canada David L. Cohen and Indigenous leaders involved in resource development. The group included Chief Judy Desjarlais of Blueberry River First Nation, Chief Councillor Crystal Smith of the Haisla Nation, Mayor Garry Reece of Lax kw’alaams Band, John Desjarlais of the Indigenous Resource Network, Justin Bourque President of Athabasca Indigenous Investments, and Chris Sankey, CEO of Blackfish Enterprises. This was a follow up to a successful first meeting between the Ambassador and ESF Advisory Council members earlier in April in Ottawa, to discuss Indigenous peoples’ roles and contributions to energy security in North America, the G7 and beyond. Ambassador Cohen expressed his interest for further discussion and work to promote Indigenous engagement and leadership as part of solutions to our mutual climate, economic and energy goals.
ESF Chair Shannon Joseph also provided introductory remarks for a panel on Examining Today’s Highest Standards of Indigenous-Industry Partnerships. Her remarks highlighted some of the big questions Canada faces in the current energy context:
“How will Canada approach the transformation of our domestic energy systems to ensure things we all value – like affordability, reliability, environmental performance, and the growth of economic opportunity? What role will Canada play in the world in supporting our allies with energy? …”
The panel examined the Athabasca Indigenous Investments deal which saw 23 First Nation and Métis communities purchase a $1.12 billion stake in a group of seven high quality pipeline assets from Enbridge. It is a ground-breaking project with important learnings for other Indigenous nations pursuing similar partnerships. Athabasca Indigenous Investments President, Justin Bourque is a member of the ESF Advisory Council.
The three-day event was an excellent showcase of solutions-oriented strategies and initiatives to promote affordable, reliable and sustainable energy sources from Canada with strong participation from Indigenous nations, businesses and workers. These are goals that ESF is proud to be advancing in its own work, and alongside partners such as FMNPC.