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Economic and social opportunities for indigenous peoples expanding through LNG development

A new Conference Board of Canada report says the development of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in B.C. is benefiting Indigenous communities and peoples, and is well positioned to advance reconciliation in Canada.

To date, the LNG sector in B.C. has created employment, business and economic opportunities, and supported Indigenous community interests. Sharing in the opportunities that arise from further LNG development will increase Indigenous economic prosperity and continue to close the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

The report, A Tide of Opportunity: Liquified Natural Gas Development in B.C. and Indigenous Communities shows that B.C.'s LNG sector is forging meaningful relationships, agreements and partnerships with Indigenous groups that open doors to sustainable economic development and improvements in well-being.

"This new report confirms what the Haisla Nation already knows, that LNG is a big driver of opportunity for Indigenous communities. We have worked closely with LNG proponents for years in Haisla Territory, and we
have witnessed firsthand how these projects have truly transformed how we build relationships with industrial partners, focussing on ensuring our members receive true, valuable benefits. We hope this new report helps everyone understand why our Nation has developed such positive relationships with LNG proponents to date," said Crystal Smith, chief councillor of the Haisla Nation.

The report shows that opportunities for Indigenous communities stemming from the growth of the B.C. LNG sector include:

  • job creation; 
  • training and capacity building; 
  • closing the wage gap; 
  • ownership and equity positions in projects and related infrastructure; 
  • capacity for Indigenous entrepreneurs to establish new businesses to serve the sector; and 
  • long-term revenue streams for Indigenous communities to fund the revitalization of language and culture, and to maintain and expand community services. 

The report provides examples of Indigenous communities and LNG proponents establishing meaningful, respectful and mutually beneficial relationships and providing tailored opportunities that address community interests, including preserving traditional languages and promoting cultural heritage.

The report goes on to note that training and capacity building within Indigenous communities from developing the LNG industry can play a role in closing the prosperity gap between Canada's Indigenous and non-Indigenous workforce. The report notes that career employment fosters greater community self-determination.

Susannah Pierce, director of corporate affairs with LNG Canada, said "Early in our project planning we recognized the role LNG Canada must play in advancing economic reconciliation, and reconciliation as a whole. To date, more than $2 billion in contracts have been awarded to Indigenous and local community businesses. We remain committed to ensuring that Indigenous communities continue to see benefits through the construction phase of our project and into operations."

The Conference Board of Canada report also outlines other significant examples of Indigenous participation in the industry to date, including:

  • TC Energy awarded Indigenous and local companies across Northern B.C. $870 million worth of contracting and employment funding. 
  • Coastal GasLink negotiated procurement with every Indigenous partner along the pipeline's route. 
  • Through the Woodfibre LNG project, the Squamish First Nation received over $4 million in procurement opportunities with BC Hydro. 
  • The First Nations Limited Partnership is a $500-million commercial partnership by and for First Nations who, together, negotiated and concluded a commercial benefits agreement regarding the PTP. 
  • Kitimat LNG has awarded Haisla Nation businesses about 85 per cent of construction spending. 
  • HaiSea Marine, a joint venture between the Haisla Nation and Seaspan ULC, was awarded a $500-million contract to provide tug services to LNG carriers. HaiSea Marine will train and employ approximately 70 Indigenous people as mariners and onshore roles.

The findings were developed through an extensive review of academic and grey literature, in consultation with the Conference Board of Canada's Indigenous and Northern Communities and Sustainability teams. The report has been peer reviewed and reflects input from Indigenous leaders, industry and government.

"LNG development is Canada's opportunity. Together, in partnership with Indigenous communities, we are building an industry that is helping Indigenous peoples achieve their goals for strong and healthy communities, while benefiting Canadians with jobs and economic opportunities from coast to coast to coast," commented Bryan Cox, president and CEO, Canadian LNG Alliance. "By continuing to work together to unlock more responsible LNG development, Canada stands to benefit significantly economically, socially and culturally."

The report is a follow up to an earlier Conference Board of Canada report: A Rising Tide: The Economic Impact of B.C.'s Liquefied Natural Gas Industry, that estimated growing the LNG industry in B.C. could create 96,550 new jobs, boost total wages in Canada by over $6 billion and increase Canada's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $11 billion every year.

Both reports were funded by the Canadian LNG Alliance and are available, for free, from the Conference Board of Canada's e-Library. 

"LNG project development in B.C. is benefiting many Indigenous communities and peoples," said Kiefer Van Mulligen, an economist at The Conference Board of Canada. "While every project has not been without challenges, LNG proponents are providing opportunities that address community interests such as employment, contracting, social supports, benefit agreements, commercial arrangements and training programs." 

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