Project reconciliation listening tour looking for support for Trans Mountain Pipeline majority ownership bid

The first stop in Project Reconciliation’s Listening Tour was an intimidating one.

Executive Chair and founder, Delbert Wapass, who is also a former Chief of Saskatchewan’s Thunderchild First Nation, explains that they are traveling through Alberta and British Columbia to talk to First Nations about the possibility of joining together to bid for 51% ownership of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and its expansion project that runs from Alberta to B.C.

Their first stop was in Vancouver to speak to 1600 elders from 205 First Nations. Wapass says elders are knowledge keepers and he compares it to a child standing in front of 1600 adults, but he felt good about it when it was done.

Generally, there were those for and against the project and those that hadn’t made up their minds yet, but the conversation was respectful. He adds there has been some positive feedback from Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan through to B.C.

A preliminary bid of around $6.9-billion was delivered to the current owner, the federal government, last month. Wapass expects the listening tour will continue for about three months, followed by finalizing the official proposal with additions garnered from their conversations.

Wapass says the biggest problem for Indigenous peoples is poverty, so this is an opportunity for transformational change. With majority ownership, the shareholders would be in the driver’s seat. The project would then provide the revenue to establish a sovereign wealth fund, to invest in other infrastructure opportunities.

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