Alberta launches support for indigenous groups to enter energy sector
Alberta Bill 14, the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation Act introduced recently, would set up a first-of-its-kind Crown corporation to facilitate Indigenous investments and job creation. The AIOC would make it easier for Indigenous communities to access funding, invest in major natural resources development projects and fuel their prosperity while helping to grow Alberta's natural resource sectors.
"Indigenous people in Alberta deserve a government that will be a true partner in creating new opportunities so that the First Nations who call this land home can take 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," said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
Indigenous communities have faced challenges in getting financing for mid- to large-scale investments. The federal Indian Act continues to limit land-use rules, like sales, transfers or use of land for collateral.
"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. The returns on these investments can help fund the community programs and services the Indigenous communities want," said Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations.
First Nations groups have expressed their support for the province's move. Numerous groups have come forward to express interest in working on various energy projects in recent years, and the support has proven popular.
"The Métis people of Alberta have long been involved in the resources sector, and are pleased to see this type of proactive work from the province," said Herb Lehr, president, Metis Settlements General Council.
"It is no secret that there is immense interest from the First Nations of this country to own big resource sector projects. This initiative will go a long ways to accomplish that," commented Calvin Helin, president, Eagle Spirit Energy Holding Ltd.
Stephen Buffalo, president and CEO of the Indian Resource Council, said "The Indian Resource Council is incredibly gratified to Premier Kenney and Minister Wilson for their leadership on getting the AIOC up and running."
The AIOC is designed to increase access to capital for Indigenous communities, and provide them with the support they need to get involved in viable projects.
In his first 50 days in office, Premier Jason Kenney hosted the first cabinet meeting with all First Nations chiefs since February 2015.
Introducing the $10-million Indigenous Litigation Fund was another promise kept to stand up for Indigenous peoples' prosperity.
The Alberta government and Blackfoot Confederacy signed a relationship agreement that will have both parties working closely on issues of mutual concern and continued collaboration.