On May 27, 2014, the Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, announced two new measures to strengthen engagement with First Nations: the creation of the Major Projects Management Office West and a tripartite forum. These new approaches flow from the final report of Douglas Eyford, Special Federal Representative on West Coast Energy Infrastructure, released in December 2013 following eight months of consultations with First Nations, provincial governments, and industry.

The Major Projects Office West will serve as a single window for the federal government to coordinate activities on energy infrastructure development with B.C. First Nations and industry in B.C. and Alberta. Key functions will include facilitating meaningful engagement and ongoing dialogue between industry, First Nations and the British Columbia government, and addressing the unique elements of energy exports in B.C. The Major Projects Office West is also expected to contribute to a better understanding of the issues raised by First Nations, and identify actions that will support First Nations involvement in West Coast energy projects in areas such as employment, business opportunities, and tanker and pipeline safety systems.

The tripartite forum will provide an opportunity for the Federal government, the B.C. Government and First Nation leaders to share information, identify common interests and align efforts on issues directly impacting Aboriginal participation in the development of energy infrastructure and natural resources on Canada’s west coast.

Through development of the Major Projects Office West and the tripartite forum, the Government of Canada has indicated that it is committed to working with First Nations to ensure that they can meaningfully participate in the development and operation of Canada’s tanker and pipeline safety systems.

The Government of Canada news release is available here.