An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S A FASCINATING battle of strategies going on between First Nations groups wanting a piece of the action on the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Two of the groups include well-known Kamloops-area indigenous leaders by the names of Chief Michael Lebourdais of the Whispering Pines reserve and former Tk’emlups te Secwepemc chief Shane Gottfriedson.
Both are out meeting with federal politicians and trying to raise the necessary capital to buy up the pipeline. They have very different views on what the federal government should consider when dealing on eventual ownership.
LeBourdais is part of the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group made up of indigenous communities along the pipeline route. He says those communities are directly affected by the expansion and should naturally have first dibs on ownership.
He says they’re the ones who are most at risk if anything happens along the route so it stands to reason they should have some control. And, they’re in the best position to ensure stringent environmental standards are met.
But Gottfriedson has a different take on it. In his view, a much broader group of indigenous communities should benefit from the expansion. As B.C. director of Project Reconciliation, he says more than 300 indigenous groups in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan should be given a stake.
It’s hard to see how all the competing groups will find common ground and a way to work together. LeBourdais and Gottfriedson both make strong arguments.
In the end, though, the federal government has a more compelling factor to consider. Beyond cultural and social arguments, the big question will be, who can do the best job of running the pipeline for the benefit not just of indigenous communities but for all communities.
Sorry, Chief LeBourdais and Mr. Gottfriedson — it’s just business.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.