Saddle Lake is part of Natural Law Energy.
Natural Law Energy has signed a definitive agreement with TC Energy to make an equity investment of up to $1 billion in the Keystone XL pipeline project, which has continued to face environmental challenges and regulatory hurdles in the United States.
While the deal is still dependent on Natural Law Energy securing financing for the investment, when it closes in 2021 it will represent an approximately 12 per cent ownership stake in the pipeline for the First Nations involved.
Natural Law Energy is a treaty alliance of First Nations in the Treaty 4, Treaty 6, and Treaty 7 territories in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Saddle Lake Cree Nation is a member of the group. There was a protest in front of the band office when the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the same deal was signed in September.
Keystone XL Pipeline president Richard Prior called the agreement a reflection of Natural Law Energy’s meaningful participation in the project.
“This partnership will facilitate important input and guidance from NLE on the project as we make this the most sustainable and safest pipeline ever developed. It will also enable the realization of long-term, meaningful economic benefits derived from an attractive return of and on NLE’s investment,” said Prior.
According to Natural Law Energy CEO Travis Meguinis, the deal is one of the largest ever for First Nations.
“We’re a major contributor to economic developments on our traditional lands and will create opportunities for future generations.
“As an Indigenous led company, we need to ensure sustainability to Mother Earth and share our understanding as stewards of the land by bringing our traditional protocols and values to these projects,” said Meguinis.
Brian Mountain, the executive director of Natural Law Energy said the project will ensure the multi-generational social and financial well-being of the Nations involved and called the relationship with TC Energy “a great example of what reconciliation looks like between our Indigenous communities and industry.”
The Government of Alberta invested $1.1 billion and extended $4.2 billion in credit to TC Energy in March 2020.
In a statement Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney called the agreement historic, and a model for building strong partnerships between industry and indigenous groups.
He said the province looks forward to working with TC Energy and Natural Law Energy on the project, which is of “of critical importance to North American energy independence and economic recovery on both sides of the border.”
“The partnership highlights the growing desire of Indigenous Peoples to bring jobs and wealth into their communities through the responsible development of Canada’s energy resources,” said Kenney.
“These significant economic benefits will improve the lives and opportunities of many generations to come, while ensuring Indigenous people continue to have direct input into the continued care and respect of the land,” said Kenney.
According to Kenney, the project will support approximately 17,000 jobs in Canada and contribute $2.4 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product.