There are as many as half a dozen Indigenous groups interested in an equity stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline and its expansion project from Alberta to the coast, and Shane Gottfriedson wants his bid to emerge as the winner.
Gottfriedson, former chief of the Kamloops-based Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, is now B.C. director of Project Reconciliation, which hopes to lead the effort to acquire a majority stake in Trans Mountain. The oil and fuel pipeline that has run through his territory since 1954 is a step towards financial self-sufficiency for up to 300 Indigenous groups in Western Canada, Gottfriedson said during a visit to the B.C. legislature Wednesday.
The federal cabinet is expected to announce approval of the project on June 18, after a court-ordered review of Indigenous consultation and the impact of expanded crude oil shipping on marine life.
“We’ve had some preliminary discussions with the federal government,” Gottfriedson said. “We’re anxiously waiting for the June 18 decision to come down so we can continue to move forward.”
Project Reconciliation is preparing to announce a financial partner in the venture in the coming weeks, he said.
“We are offering all Indigenous groups in Western Canada – more than 300 in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan – to sign up as majority shareholders for a 51 per cent stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline,” Gottfriedson said. “As a former chief I am here to tell you, it is high time we shifted our focus from managing historic poverty to managing future prosperity.”
Project Reconciliation vows to put 80 per cent of its pipeline profits into a “sovereign wealth fund” to develop infrastructure and businesses in Indigenous communities.
Another equity proposal is being proposed by the Alberta-based Indian Resources Council, representing Treaty 6, 7 and 8 communities in Alberta, Treaty 8 communities in B.C.’s northeast and communities in Saskatchewan.