Harper government organized private meetings between oil firms and Indigenous chiefs to try and gain support for oil and gas pipelines and other investments located on their lands, documents reveal
The Harper government is trying to win support for its pipelines and resource agenda by pushing First Nations to sideline their aboriginal rights in exchange for business opportunities, documents reveal.
The news that Canada’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs is working to this end by collaborating with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is sparking strong criticism from grassroots Indigenous people.
Funded by the federal government, the Working Group on Natural Resource Development held private meetings in Toronto and Edmonton in the fall of 2014 that were attended by several invited Chiefs and representatives from Enbridge, Syncrude and other oil corporations, as well as mining companies and business lobby groups.
In one email, a government official writes that it was “widely agreed” at the meetings that “unlocking resource development projects is squarely in the national interest,” a suggestion that will be contested by many First Nations involved in mounting protests against pipelines and other industrial projects around the country.
It was “noted repeatedly” that “we can no longer afford the investment uncertainty created by issues around Aboriginal participation,” the official writes. The transcripts of the meetings were redacted in the documents, which were obtained through access-to-information.