Indigenous non profit looks to acquire ownership of Trans Mountain Pipeline

CALGARY — A new Indigenous non-profit organization is seeking an ownership stake in the Trans Mountain Pipeline, saying its aim is to make sure communities along the pipeline’s route receive its benefits directly.

Nesika Services publicly launched Monday, calling itself a grassroots, community-led not-for-profit.

Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation in Alberta (and the chair and founding director of Nesika) said 14 Indigenous communities along the pipeline’s route in Alberta and B.C. have already signed on.

He said Nesika is in the process of reaching out to all 129 communities that have been identified by the federal government as being impacted by Trans Mountain to ensure they have a chance to join in.

“Ultimately what we’re trying to do right now is to organize the communities,” Alexis said in an interview. “Once Canada has decided they’re willing to sell this pipeline, then at that time we’ll be negotiating to purchase.”

The Trans Mountain pipeline carries 300,000 barrels of oil per day, and is Canada’s only pipeline system transporting oil from Alberta to the West Coast.

It was bought by the federal government for $4.5 billion in 2018, after previous owner Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. threatened to scrap the pipeline’s planned expansion project in the face of environmentalist opposition.

Several Indigenous-led initiatives have already come forward. Project Reconciliation is seeking a 100 per cent ownership stake in the pipeline with no equity requirement or liability risk to Indigenous partners. Its goal is to distribute cash flow from the pipeline between the participating Indigenous community owners, and an Indigenous Sovereign Wealth Fund that will invest in energy transition projects.

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