A central Alberta electric transmission project is “an example of how industry and Indigenous people can work together to build a greener and more prosperous Alberta,” says the Métis Nation of Alberta president.
The Alberta Utilities Commission has approved the Central East Transfer-Out Transmission Development Project, marking the first time that a regulator in Alberta has acknowledged the province’s duty to consult the Métis Nation of Alberta.
“The CETO Project shows that a clear approach to Métis consultation would directly benefit industry,” said MNA President Audrey Poitras.
“The Government of Alberta’s refusal to acknowledge its constitutional duty to consult the MNA when Métis rights are at stake is now in direct conflict with one of its own agencies, creating red tape and confusion. The lesson from the ACU is clear: consultation with the MNA gives industry certainty. That will help put Alberta back to work.”
The CETO Project is a new double-circuit 240-kilovolt transmission line running from Red Deer to approximately 45 kilometres east of Stettler.
The province’s Aboriginal Consultation Office did not direct proponents to consult with the MNA about the CETO Project. In a statement Friday, the MNA said it intervened in an AUC hearing to ensure that potential impacts on Métis rights, claims and interests were adequately considered.
The AUC found that the CETO Project “may adversely affect the exercise of Métis harvesting or traditional cultural practices in the project area” and therefore “the duty to consult is triggered as it relates to Métis, as represented by the MNA,” the MNA statement explained.
Alberta has policies directing consultation with First Nations and the eight Métis Settlements. The MNA has taken the Government of Alberta to court about its decision to break off negotiations of a provincial Métis Consultation Policy. A decision in that matter is pending.
Canada requires consultation with the MNA when federally regulated projects may impact Métis rights.
One of the CETO project proponents, ATCO Electric Ltd., initially made “no effort” to engage with the MNA, the statement said, adding the AUC found the province had a constitutional obligation to ensure that the MNA was adequately consulted.
The CETO Project will cross Tail Creek, an area of historical and cultural significance to the MNA. ATCO committed to having a Métis cultural heritage monitor onsite at the Tail Creek crossing, conducting additional Historical Resource Impact Assessment activities at this location, and notifying the MNA, subject to the Ministry of Culture and Status of Women’s processes, if Métis historical resources are discovered in the project area.
Consultation with the MNA will continue throughout construction.
“We call on Alberta to acknowledge its duty to consult the MNA so that all project approvals in the province can be as successful,” said Poitras.