Respect and dialogue – the basis of TransCanada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.
Since announcing the Energy East project, our teams have engaged with more than 180 Indigenous communities across Canada with the aim to involve them in all aspects of project development. This is why we are particularly proud to announce the signing today of an Engagement Agreement with Grand Council Treaty #3, the traditional government of the Anishinaabe Nation in northwestern Ontario.
The agreement, which opens the way to sharing information on the Energy East Pipeline, is a milestone for the 4,500-kilometre-long project as it is the 30th such agreement signed with First Nation communities in Ontario.
The signing by Ogichidaa (Grand Chief) Warren White and Energy East Pipeline President François Poirier took place during a traditional ceremony in the sacred roundhouse of the Wauzhushk Onigum community, near Kenora.
The agreement does not mean Treaty #3 First Nations support the Energy East project at this stage, but that they will “share information and listen to the people,” said Ogichidaa Warren White at the end of a ceremony marked by drum playing and the smudging by an Elder of tobacco offered by Poirier as a symbol of respect.
“We are here today in the spirit of friendship and cooperation” Poirier said. “Having respectful, cooperative relationships at the community level – right across our project – is crucial to building a successful project.”
A working group will be set up by Grand Council Treaty #3 to review the application that TransCanada filed with the National Energy Board (NEB) at the end of 2014, and study the project’s Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment – the result of 18 months of extensive environmental studies, engineering work and public consultation by the Energy East teams.
This agreement with Treaty #3 is a first important step. It means we will be able to show why Energy East is important to communities along its route and the measures our teams will take to protect the land and water. It will also allow us to receive important input from Treaty #3 as we continue to design the project.
TransCanada is deeply committed to meaningful engagement.
Our goal is to forge collaborations that result in lasting, positive change for both our company and the communities we operate in during the lifetime of our projects, and beyond. We seek to involve Indigenous communities in all aspects of project development as well as contributing to the long-term aspirations of their peoples through community investment, capacity development and economic opportunities.
In 2014 for instance, our company generated $104 million in work for Indigenous businesses or their joint-venture partners, which was up from $66.5 million the previous year. We also continue to work with communities and organizations to develop training initiatives to build skills development that will increase project participation. This is how we walk the talk.