A Sto:lo leader from Chilliwack is co-chairing the new Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee.
The committee comprises First Nations reps from B.C. and Alberta along with senior federal officials, to offer advice to regulators, and monitoring of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) and the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Cheam Chief Ernie Crey said he and co-chair Naina Sloan will be be protecting the interests of Indigenous people all along the route of the TMX. But the IAMC will not be a consultative body, he stressed, and it will not supplant the consultation required of the federal government.
“The duty to consult remains where it belongs, with First Nations. We are there simply to monitor and provide advice and oversee the monitoring with the regulator.”
A community engagement session was held at Seabird Island last week for Sto:lo and Metis community members of the Fraser Valley to learn about the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring (IAMC) committee and its work.
“It was a great first outing,” said Crey. “People had questions and constructive criticism for us.”
There was a good turnout and they talked about the IAMC mandate.
“We wanted the indigenous community to understand the purpose and role of the committee,” he said about the Seabird Island meeting.
They’ll be reaching out and canvassing views more in future on topics like Indigenous Monitoring; Engagement; Marine Shipping; and Socioeconomic Impacts.
Government of Canada has earmarked $64.7 million over five years to support the work of the IAMC. Of this, $42 million in program funding will enable the committee to monitor the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. It can also support: engagement and communications; training and other capacity supports; and research, data gathering and technical reviews.
Some members of the new committee are opposed to the pipeline project, others may not be.
“But our position is if this pipeline is going to be built, then First Nations and Métis have a role to play in monitoring, with a view to public safety and environmental monitoring, with protection of aboriginal values and heritage sites along the route. We want to make sure we’re there alongside the regulator,” Crey added.