KAMLOOPS - The proposed twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline brought First Nations groups from British Columbia and Alberta came together in Kamloops this week and organizer Chief Aaron Sam is hoping there is strength in numbers.
“We’re talking about ways we can work together and strategizing on how we want to move forward when it comes to resource development, as well as, obviously, pipeline development including the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion,” he says.
Over the past two days, Oct. 27 and 28, between 150 to 200 First Nations peoples came to Kamloops to learn, share, discuss and hopefully find common ground.
“The purpose yesterday was to provide information; to share information between First Nations, government and industry,” Sam says, adding it was a respectful conversation attended by various, high ranking officials including Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson.
Today, information from yesterday’s presentations was set to be discussed and disseminated between First Nations groups.
“What we hope for today is we’ll have a dialogue internally, and the next step would be to continue having a dialogue after today,” Sam says.
He says some First Nations groups have signed agreements with the energy company and others are staunchly opposed to resource development while some are unsure about what to do next.
Sam admits there may never be a 100 per cent consensus, but says there are topics that unite people across the aisle.
“One of the issues, for example, is there’s currently a pipe already in the ground, a 60-year-old pipe. A lot of First Nations are concerned about that pipe,” he says, adding climate change and the environment are generally agreed upon concerns. “I fundamentally believe if there’s issues that we feel need to be addressed it’s so important that we work together. We could have a real influence not just locally but regionally, or nationally, and even internationally.”
The proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, from Alberta to the B.C. coast, is still in the application process. According to the energy company’s website, if the application is successful, construction of the new pipeline could begin as early as 2016 and become operational in late 2018. Side-by-side pipelines will allow the system to almost triple production from currently 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 890,000.
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