Aboriginal communities must be ‘true partners’ in energy projects, Canada’s business leaders say

Aboriginal peoples must be true partners in resource and energy projects, and Canadian companies should work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to help them realize the benefits of economic development, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) says in a new report.

“Many of Canada’s richest resource and energy assets are found near Aboriginal communities,” says the report, copies of which were sent to all Canadian premiers and territorial leaders in advance of their meeting in Halifax later this month. Titled Framing an Energy Strategy for Canada, the submission offers a series of recommendations for a Canadian energy strategy.

The CCCE is the senior voice of Canadian business, representing the CEOs and entrepreneurs of 150 leading companies.

In its submission to the premiers, the CCCE acknowledges that Aboriginal peoples have “legitimate concerns” about major resource developments, “including implications for land claims, the impact on their communities and way of life, as well as on the land, air and water around them.”

At the same time, the report says that energy and other resource development projects can provide native communities with a wide array of benefits, such revenue-sharing agreements, equity interests, improved employment opportunities, training and service contracts with Aboriginal-owned businesses.

 “Aboriginal youth face chronic underemployment and are the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population,” said The Honourable John Manley, the CCCE’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Meanwhile, Canadian companies, particularly in resource industries, are facing skills and labour shortages. Business, Aboriginal leaders and governments should work together to find solutions that will benefit Aboriginal communities and strengthen Canada’s workforce.”

The CCCE report calls on the Premiers to help build a Canadian energy strategy that:

  • promotes energy conservation;
  • contributes to North American energy self-sufficiency;
  • helps to diversify Canada’s energy export markets;
  • promotes investments in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology;
  • streamlines regulatory approval processes;
  • ensures consistency in national and provincial climate policies; and
  • addresses the labour market needs of Canada’s energy sector.

The CCCE brings CEOs together to shape public policy in the interests of a stronger Canada and a better world. Member CEOs and entrepreneurs represent all sectors of the Canadian economy. The companies they lead collectively administer C$4.5 trillion in assets, have annual revenues in excess of C$850 billion, and are responsible for the vast majority of Canada’s exports, investment, research and development, and training.