Employment and business opportunities are expected to surge at Paul First Nation following a milestone agreement with Kinder Morgan Canada.

The Paul First Nation and Kinder Morgan recently concluded a Mutual Benefits Agreement (MBA) regarding the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. MBAs are confidential agreements that define a mutually beneficial long-term relationship between an individual Aboriginal group and Kinder Morgan. They can include agreements on education and training related to pipeline construction and related job skills, enhancement of community services or infrastructure, business opportunities and other benefits.

The initial phase of the MBA between Paul First Nation and Kinder Morgan, already implemented and audited, includes immediate and targeted economic, community and cultural capacity-building initiatives. The Paul First Nation is a 1,926-member community located about 50 kilometres west of Edmonton. It is active in pursuing business development opportunities that support greater economic self-sufficiency and diversification.

In the next phase of the MBA, Band members, Band-owned companies, and the Paul First Nation’s Joint Venture Partnerships (JVPs) are poised to participate and fully benefit from expansion project-related activity within the Nation’s Traditional Territories.

“Our MBA with Kinder Morgan is already helping our people, our companies and our JVPs – such as industry and environmental leader Canadian Mat Systems, Focus Equities, and Western Canadian Mulching – prepare themselves for the opportunities which lie ahead,” Chief Casey Bird said.

“These JVPs reflect our values of social, cultural and environmental sustainability, are highly-competitive and will continue to earn and win opportunities for our people and community for many years to come. Kinder Morgan’s ongoing support of the training, employment and community benefits that come from respectful, two-way partnerships is just what is needed to move our community forward and we wish them well as they continue to go through the regulatory approval process.”

Chief Bird noted that the positive economic impacts of the agreement extend beyond Traditional Territories. “The timber that Canadian Mat uses to build mats that protect soil and reduce environmental impact in the energy exploration sector is sourced from sustainably managed forests on Vancouver Island and processed at manufacturing facilities in and around Cowichan Bay, within the Traditional Territory of the Cowichan Tribes.”

Kinder Morgan Canada President Ian Anderson said the agreement with Paul First Nation reflects the company’s long-term commitment to working with Aboriginal groups. “We thank Chief Bird and Paul First Nation Councillors and community members for their hard work and effort in reaching this milestone agreement,” Anderson said. “We look forward to working with them as our project proceeds through its National Energy Board review, and if approved, when construction on our project begins.”

Anderson said Trans Mountain is committed to a respectful working relationship with Aboriginal groups, and to developing long term working relationships that are based on respect and mutual benefit.

“Our approach to doing business includes respect for the role of First Nations in our society, and the importance of creating opportunities for them to share the prosperity that natural resource development can bring to all Canadians.”

The Paul First Nation made headlines in December 2013 with a public statement that it generally supports the responsible and respectful expansion of Canada’s pipeline infrastructure as the preferred transportation mode for moving increased volumes of Alberta oil and gas production to new offshore markets. This statement included an expression of support for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.