Ottawa to open office in B.C. to woo B.C. First Nations on energy projects

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. - The federal government will set up a major projects management office in British Columbia to try to woo West Coast First Nations on the myriad of energy projects proposed in the province.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford says Ottawa will also establish a forum with the B.C. government and First Nations to work toward aboriginal participation in energy developments.

The two measures were recommended in a report last fall by Douglas Eyford (EYE'-ford), appointed by the federal government to consult First Nations as the Northern Gateway proposal foundered.

Prior to the start of federal review hearings for the $6.5-billion pipeline, internal government memos were adamant that the federal government would not consult First Nations outside of that review process.

In the face of protests, petitions and lawsuits by B.C. aboriginal groups that have the potential to derail $650 billion in oil and gas developments, that has changed.

Rickford was joined at the announcement in Prince Rupert by Mayor Garry Reece of the Lax Kw'alaams (Lax-kwa-laams) and Chief Harold Leighton of the Metlakatla (Met-la-ka-tla), two of seven Tsimshian (SIM'-she-an) communities along B.C. northern coast.

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