Alberta Leads The Nation With It’s Billion Dollar Indigenous Energy Partnerships
“Indigenous people in Alberta deserve a government that will be a true partner in creating new opportunities and assist them in taking full advantage of the natural resources that enrich this province. We want to empower Indigenous communities so they can lift their people out of poverty and become full partners in prosperity.”
Jason Kenney, Premier
AiM recently attended the Indigenous Participation in Major Projects Conference and had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Cody Church – Chairman, AIOC, as well as a speech given by Premier Kennedy.
The event was attended by leaders of Industry, Government and Indigenous communities. During this conference Premier Kenney addressed the audience and made the point that the government’s single largest new expenditure in the 2019 budget was the announcement of a Billion dollar investment in AIOC.
Bill 14, the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation Act, (AIOC) – a first-of-its-kind in Canada – provides Indigenous communities access to a billion dollars in loans and loan guarantees over four years to start their own large and medium-sized resource projects. This capital and technical support is to be invested in natural resource projects and related infrastructure.
“This new Crown corporation is a bold and innovative way of building relationships with Indigenous communities to get natural resource projects moving forward and get Alberta’s economy back to work.”
Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations
The act allows the AIOC to request approval to do any of the following:
- Issue loan guarantees
- Loan money or take on an existing loan of money
- Purchase shares or other forms of equity
- Enter into joint ventures or partnerships
The AIOC will help Indigenous communities scale-up investments in the resource sector to a level not before seen in Alberta. Kenney said, “AIOC will provide legal and economic backing to pro-development First Nations who want to move toward as long-term strategic partners with industry and the Alberta government”.
“I think the game-changer for a lot of First Nations is they would actually have an ownership stake where they’re no longer kind of marginal to the deal but they’re in the deal. For too long our Indigenous people have not benefited from the enormous value of resources in Alberta.”
Premier Jason Kennedy
The AIOC will also make it easier for Indigenous communities to invest in major natural resources development projects which in turn will fuel their prosperity while helping to grow Alberta’s natural resource sectors. In this sense, Kennedy said “the AIOC is in many ways a transformational initiative that has not been attempted elsewhere in Canada”.
“The Indian Resource Council is incredibly gratified to Premier Kenney and Minister Wilson for their leadership on getting the AIOC up and running.”
Stephen Buffalo, president and CEO, Indian Resource Council
Previously, Indigenous communities have faced challenges in getting financing for mid- to large-scale investments because the federal Indian Act continues to limit land-use rules, like sales, transfers or use of land for collateral.
AIOC is eager to evaluate potential opportunities, some key takeaways from the Mr Church’s presentation include;
- The program is designed to leverage the AB Governments balance sheet to back loans for Indigenous communities to participate as equity partners in projects
- Projects must be related to Energy and Natural Resources
- Projects should be low risk with a long term stable income
- Investment can be in new or existing assets
- AIOC prefers big projects – $20 m to $250 m. Projects which require over $250 m in funding will require ministerial consent
- Preference is for more First Nations & Metis communities to be involved as opposed to less
“Treaty 8 lands hold some of the richest natural resources in the province. We look forward to moving together with the government to get our people involved in meaningful ways. ”
Grand Chief Arthur Noskey, Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta
Major projects are a huge growth industry in Canada and provide significant opportunities for Indigenous people whose territories are impacted directly by this industry.
“Major projects are criss-crossing most Indigenous lands. There is tremendous value in this industry by way of jobs, investment and equity ownership and we want our people to benefit from, and capitalize on these opportunities.”
Chief Makiinima (Roy Fox) of the Blood Tribe and IRC Chairman
Further, Kennedy explained that his office has not received any negative feedback from Albertans. The government says cash for the operation will come from cancelling the NDP’s planned $3.7-billion rail lease.
“Our duty is to advance reconciliation by making our indigenous populations full and equal partners in our economic opportunities. Opportunity is the path to reconciliation, moving First Nations from poverty to prosperity”
Jason Kenney, Premier
Premier Kenney said if the model is successful in Alberta, he plans to push the federal government to implement a similar program. He called the initiative a “game-changer” and a “paradigm shift” that could help get a pipeline built to the West Coast.
After attending this conference we are encouraged by this province’s proactive initiative as well as the potential of Bill 14 and the work of AIOC – which allows for advanced and impactful economic opportunities for all Albertans.
The Indigenous Relations Department at AiM works tirelessly with communities across Western Canada to strengthen our relationships and continue to find a balance for responsible energy development.