Electricity Infrastructure: A Strong Foundation for Increased Aboriginal Engagement

The unprecedented electricity infrastructure investments Canada must undertake between now and 2030 represent a tremendous opportunity for all Canadians, and Aboriginal communities in particular. CEA and its members have long recognized the importance of establishing permanent and mutually-beneficial relationships with the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.

The many successful collaborative projects and relationships between members and local as well as regional Aboriginal leaders stand as testaments to this commitment. There are already nearly 100 electricity projects on indigenous lands with an estimated capital expenditure of $50B, and another 200 projects are in the pipeline valued between $120 and $140B.

CEA and member companies recently formalized their commitment to working in partnership with Aboriginal Peoples across the country by adopting a set of six national principles that will guide their engagement with Aboriginal communities at the national level. This will reinforce and compliment the local and regional relationships between CEA members and Aboriginal leaders.

These principles, which are designed to nurture meaningful long-term relationships; enhance mutually beneficial economic relationships and business opportunities; and ensure further consideration of Aboriginal perspectives, include:

 

  1. Respecting Aboriginal Culture, Traditional Values, and Rights;
  2. Nurturing Constructive Relationships;
  3. Enhancing Communications;
  4. Fostering Aboriginal Capacity Building;
  5. Promoting Economic Prosperity; and
  6. Facilitating Crown Consultation.

 

The UN human development index has ranked Canada between 6th and 9th in the world, in terms of quality of life. But, as the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has noted, if those same measurements are applied Canada’s Aboriginal communities would rank between 63rd and 78th. That rather stark contrast – between 6th and 78th place – is the depth of the challenge.

Studies show that if Aboriginal Peoples in Canada reach the same education and employment level as non-Indigenous people, Canada’s GDP would increase by $401 billion by 2026.The challenge of course is in the “if”.  By establishing permanent and mutually-beneficial relationships with Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples CEA and its members are committed to helping turn the “if” into “when”.

As the sector expands and renews to better serve all Canadians, the opportunities for partnerships are as limitless as their social, economic and environmental benefits.

 

Channa Perera

Director, Generation and Sustainability

Canadian Electricity Association