We are committed to working with Aboriginal communities where we operate. Our goal is to build and sustain effective relationships based on mutual respect, to share mutual benefits and to work cooperatively and transparently with Aboriginal groups. As a result of our Aboriginal Engagement Program, we have received support from many Aboriginal groups along the Project corridor including Letters of Support from many Aboriginal communities most impacted by the Project and located close to the  right-of-way. Where our Project will cross First Nation Reserve lands, we will have agreements with those First Nations.

For the Project since 2012, we have sought to meaningfully engage with Aboriginal communities through more than 30,000 points of contact. We will continue to engage with communities in Alberta and British Columbia.

In Alberta, the existing pipeline and corridor crosses Treaty 6 territory, Treaty 8 territory and the Metis Nation of Alberta (Zone 4). In British Columbia, we cross numerous traditional territories and 15 First Nation Reserve lands. Where the pipeline crosses Reserves in British Columbia, we contribute to each First Nation via property taxes on the land occupied. These Aboriginal communities are our neighbours and we respect their unique interests in the land, their values and their culture.

The Project presents a special opportunity to enhance existing relationships with Aboriginal communities along our pipeline corridor, while also opening the door to new relationships, including coastal Aboriginal communities with respect to marine transportation and safety. The dialogue to date has been invaluable to our Project planning and to developing understanding between communities and our industry. We look forward to building and nurturing these relationships.

Aboriginal Engagement

Trans Mountain respects the constitutional rights, unique culture, diversity, languages and traditions of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. We acknowledge the significance of culture and language for Aboriginal communities and the considerable traditional knowledge that has been passed on for generations. In Alberta and BC alone, nearly 450,000 First Nations and Métis people play an important role in the social, cultural and economic fabric of the provinces.

Trans Mountain’s Aboriginal Engagement Program was designed to create an open, transparent and inclusive process that seeks to: exchange information in a respectful manner; to address concerns shared by those who might have an interest in the Project or have Aboriginal interests potentially affected by the Project; to incorporate feedback into Project planning and execution; and to provide Project benefits.

Our Aboriginal Engagement Program is guided by the Kinder Morgan Canada Aboriginal Relations Policy and the following principles: 

  • Build trust and respect – These values form the basis of Trans Mountain’s engagement with Aboriginal Peoples.
  • Ensure meaningful engagement – Conduct meaningful engagement with Aboriginal Peoples who assert Aboriginal and treaty rights.
  • Address legal requirements – Carry out Trans Mountain’s legal requirements as a regulated company under the National Energy Board jurisdiction to engage with and mitigate, where necessary, where there are any Project impacts on the assertion of Aboriginal rights and title governing traditional and cultural use of the land and marine environment.
  • Provide capacity funding – Provide funding, as appropriate, to Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal groups who have an interest in the Project and who wish to engage in the Aboriginal Engagement Program.
  • Gather Aboriginal perspectives – Gather Aboriginal perspectives on rights and asserted rights, and identify issues and concerns relating to those rights and the Project.
  • Assess Project impacts – In partnership with Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal groups, potential impacts will be identified and assessed, and mitigation measures will be implemented where necessary.
  • Reach understandings – Reach understandings or agreements that address potential infringement of Aboriginal rights affected by the Project.
  • Provide benefits – Provide procurement, employment and workforce development opportunities to Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal groups affected by the Project, and consider Mutual Benefit Agreements (MBAs) 

We are committed to continued listening, learning and working with Aboriginal people to ensure that knowledge and advice is fully considered and incorporated in the Project.

Participation in Field Studies

Since 2012, we conducted numerous environmental and engineering field studies for the pipeline expansion. These programs occurred throughout Alberta and British Columbia and involved the work of various teams and disciplines. It was important for us to work in collaboration with Aboriginal communities to ensure participation in studies located within their traditional territory. This important data enhanced our knowledge of the environment along the pipeline corridor and guided our Project planning.

Trans Mountain has provided more than $13 million in capacity funding to Aboriginal communities interested in engaging and learning more about our Project. Capacity funding enabled groups to conduct Traditional Land or Marine Use Studies, and participate in Traditional Ecological Knowledge Studies and other types of community-designed research. 

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Studies: These studies involved the collection of traditional knowledge from potentially affected Aboriginal communities through their participation within five disciplines: vegetation, wildlife, aquatics, archaeology and wetlands. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) studies are incorporated into the biophysical studies of the Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment (ESA) used to assess the potential effects of a project on the environment and to design appropriate mitigation. We recognize Aboriginal communities maintain close ties to the land and the importance of integrating relevant TEK into the ESA. TEK complements Western scientific knowledge and provides information for Project planning.

Traditional Land Use Studies: These studies occurred with potentially affected Aboriginal communities based on interest, proximity and/or their assertion of traditional and cultural use of the land. Traditional Land Use (TLU) studies are undertaken on Crown land to provide information regarding the TLU activities that the participating Aboriginal community engages in, on the land. Information gathered is used to determine the potential effects the Project may have on the identified TLU area and the ability of the users to maintain the current traditional use of the environment; results are used to guide Project planning. 

Traditional Marine Resource Use Studies: These studies occurred with potentially affected Aboriginal marine communities based on interest, proximity and/or their assertion of traditional and cultural use of coastal and international waters. There will be additional marine traffic to offload the product from the Project. Although regulation and authorization of marine transportation is not specifically within the jurisdiction of the NEB, the environmental and socio-economic effects of the increased marine traffic is considered by Trans Mountain within a geographic area extending between the Westridge Marine Terminal and a location known as “Buoy J” at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, covering the internationally established traffic corridors. This geographic area is also known as the Salish Sea and includes the Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Strait of Georgia.

Traditional Marine Resource Use (TMRU) studies are undertaken to provide information regarding the TMRU activities the participating Aboriginal community engages in, within the marine environment. Information gathered is used to determine the potential effects the Project may have on the identified TMRU area and the ability of the users to maintain the current traditional use of the environment; results are used to guide Project planning.