Canadian Indian tribes say cancellation of Keystone XL was a “blow” to them


While some Native American tribes in the U.S. stood up against the Keystone XL pipeline planned for Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, Canadian tribes supported the controversial line killed by President Biden. Several invested $1 billion in the pipeline. Now they’re saying his actions were an economic blow to them.

Some Canadian tribes actually invested in the planned 1,200 mile line proposed by Canada’s TC Energy. And they pushed back this past week as Biden prepared to take office and announced he would cancel the firm’s permit to cross the border and build the line.

Alvin Francis, chief of the Nekaneet First Nation in Saskatchewan said the move would be devastating to Indigenous peoples.

“—I want to fully express how devastating this would be to my community and others across Canada and the U.S. who are benefiting from the Project,” he said in a statement.

Dale Swampy, president of the National Coalition of Chiefs said the decision will result in fewer jobs in the short term for Indigenous people in constructing the line and supplying goods.

“It’s quite a blow to the First Nations that are involved right now in working with TC Energy to access employment training and contracting opportunities,” he said.

Francis is also president of Natural Law Energy and had entered into an agreement in September of 2020 between the pipeline’s developer for the five-tribe company to become an equity partner with a $1 billion investment in the line.

“We, like many Indigenous communities across North America, have been inspired by President-elect Biden’s position to support minority communities and build an economy where everyone enjoys an equal chance to get ahead,” Francis continued in his statement. “A decision against Keystone XL is the exact opposite of that pledge.”

Swampy agreed with him.

“Within Alberta, First Nations are pretty closely entrenched with all of the activities occurring with the oil and gas industry. Any change, especially a big change like this, really affects our bands’ ability to keep our people employed.”


The demise of the pipeline means Natural Law Energy, which represents five First Nations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, will no longer be able to make an equity investment of up to $1 billion in Keystone XL, a plan announced by builder TC Energy Corp. in November that was expected to be extended to American Indigenous groups as well.


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