Indigenous pipeline bidder launches ‘listening tour’ along Trans Mountain route

CALGARY — An Indigenous group planning to bid for ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline is launching a “listening tour” of Indigenous communities in B.C. and Alberta.

Project Reconciliation says the tour will begin in Kamloops in mid-August and will invite First Nations and Metis Nation people and communities along the pipeline route from Edmonton to the West Coast to share their thoughts about Indigenous ownership.

Delbert Wapass, executive chair and founder of Project Reconciliation, says the tour will provide information on his group’s proposal but is also designed to gather feedback to be reflected in its final submission to the federal government.

Wapass, the former chief of Saskatchewan’s Thunderchild First Nation, is proposing ownership of at least 51 per cent of the federal government-owned pipeline be shared among all participating Indigenous communities in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The group would put 80 per cent of the cash flow from the pipeline stake into a “sovereign wealth fund” to invest in environmentally friendly projects.

Its bid is opposed by the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group which argues Trans Mountain should be owned by communities actually located on the route as they are most at risk from an oil spill.

Ottawa has indicated support for the idea of selling the pipeline to Indigenous owners but says decisions won’t be made until the pipeline expansion project is “de-risked.”

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