500+ meetings in nearly 200 communities….. That’s how TransCanada has been actively engaging with First Nations and Métis groups since the launch of the Energy East Pipeline Project. Fostering strong, long-term relationships with Aboriginal communities is, and will continue to be, an integral part of everything we do here at TransCanada.
We have committed to providing capacity funding and resources to support the participation of First Nations communities along the proposed Energy East route, so that these communities can fully participate in the engagement process. So far, we’ve reached many milestones with Aboriginal communities. Including over 20 agreements signed directly with First Nation communities in Ontario alone. In fact, many Chiefs have already expressed their appreciation for our engagement process:
“On behalf of the George Gordon First Nation, I would like to express my appreciation to TransCanada Pipelines for engaging our community before it begins development on the proposed Energy East project. The framework for our engagement was formalized through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) dated February 12, 2014.”
Chief Longman, George Gordon First Nation
The Energy East Pipeline Project is not only an opportunity for all Canadians but also an opportunity for the people and communities along the route. We recognize that we need to be flexible in our approach to the way we address specific issues and priorities in each community. We understand that and will work toward that goal each day.
For example, our Aboriginal Human Resource Strategy was developed to increase Aboriginal employment accessibility and to support a respectful and inclusive work environment. Our Aboriginal Contracting Strategy provides opportunities for Aboriginal businesses to participate in both the construction of new facilities and the ongoing maintenance of existing facilities.
Our commitment to the safety of this pipeline and the protection of the environment is just as strong as our commitment to our Aboriginal engagement. No one has a stronger interest in these principles than we do, and that includes the protection of waterways along the pipeline route. Before going into service, the converted section of the pipeline will be cleaned and thoroughly inspected. We will also place sensors and valve systems—including check valves—at closer intervals along major waterways for added protection and will have highly-trained technical staff in our state-of-the-art control centre that monitors the pipeline 24 hours a day.
It is a process we are already very familiar with. We have previously converted pipelines from gas to oil service safely, with the most recent example being the conversion of Line One of the Canadian Mainline between Alberta and Winnipeg for our Keystone Pipeline, which has safely delivered more than 700 million barrels of oil to the U.S. since it began operations in 2010.
A Traditional Land Use Study was recently conducted by the George Gordon First Nation in partnership with TransCanada—a first of its kind—allowing them to engage community members and elders in Energy East discussions.
“We are confident that the project will pose very little risk and that any development, and subsequent operations, will be exercised in a responsible manner, respecting the environment and our inherent and Treaty Rights,” Chief Longman stated. “Through this process, the George Gordon First Nation is proud to uphold the national economic interest while exercising our obligations as stewards of the land.”