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ACEC participates in a major gathering of First Nations and Industry  


ACEC representatives recently took part in a two-day event focused on discussing the challenges and opportunities of working together to advance major projects.

On March 4 & 5, ACEC Chair Michael Snow and President & CEO John Gamble were amongst the 120 participants from Industry and First Nations gathered for meetings focused on discussing matters of common interest in advancing major project development. The topics of discussion included First Nation equity ownership, project finance, environmental stewardship and major project assessment standards. As well as ACEC, our sector was also represented by Hatch and RAM Engineering, who presented case studies on successful First Nation participation in projects. Other industry participants included a broad range of guests from oil and gas, project finance and banking, construction, engineering, and renewable energy sectors.

The event was organized by the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC), which was formed by several First Nations to examine how ownership of major resource projects on their lands could be facilitated; and how environmental practices can be improved to meet their needs.

“It is critically important that we are able to bring our First Nations members together with industry leaders for a broad ranging discussion. By holding these meetings, we are establishing an understanding of each other’s interests and core values upon which business deals can be advanced for the benefit of our communities,” stated Coalition Chair and Councillor Sharleen Gale from Fort Nelson First Nation.

“You don’t hear about this kind of collaboration between industry and our Nations in the mainstream media today. It is important we get this message out for our members, we are open to this kind of collaboration and it is important that industry develop a keen understanding of our traditional values and interests,” concluded Councillor Gale.

The purposes of the FNMPC are to work collaboratively, cooperatively and cohesively towards the enhancement of the economic well-being of its members, understanding that a strong economy is reliant upon a healthy environment supported by vibrant cultures, languages and expressions of traditional laws, and in particular to:

  1. Safeguard our air, land, water and medicine sources from the impacts of resource development by asserting its members’ influence and traditional laws on environmental, regulatory and negotiation processes;
  2. Receive a fair share of benefits from projects undertaken in the traditional territories of its members; and
  3. Explore ownership opportunities of projects proposed in the traditional territories of its members.

“The FNMPC is emerging as an important and influential stakeholder for the future of major projects in Canada and especially those that involve First Nations lands” remarked Mr. Gamble. “This event presents ACEC and its members with opportunities to support and collaborate with FNMPC to the benefit of the First Nations, the consulting engineering sector and Canada in general.”

The FNMPC first came to ACEC’s attention when they were identified to participate in a panel discussion on a National Corridor during the ACEC leadership conference in October 2017. Through ongoing communication between the two organizations, it became apparent to ACEC leadership that the FNMPC has a constructive, pragmatic and entrepreneurial view of major resource projects and is becoming an important and influential stakeholder on issues related to resource infrastructure. Since 2017, the FNMPC has presented to the ACEC Board on two separate occasions and actively participated in the ACEC national leadership conference in October of 2018. Last December, during FNMPC events in Ottawa, ACEC Chair Michael Snow was invited to make a presentation to their Board and participated in a round table discussion hosted by the Governance Institute on behalf of the Coalition.

“Stakeholders in project development” remarked Mr. Snow “including the Canadian consulting engineering industry, should view the FNMPC’s efforts to enable meaningful participation of First Nations communities in the financing, development, delivery and operation of Major Projects as a great opportunity for Canada and First Nations.”

ACEC looks forward to forging a more meaningful relationship with the Coalition and its members in the coming months as there is there a great opportunity for collaboration between our organizations and with the consulting engineering industry. ACEC believes coordinated advocacy efforts to the federal government during the Bill C69 hearings and the forthcoming general election on topics such as major projects and a national corridor will strengthen our voice and our message. The Coalition also has a great deal to offer directly to ACEC member firms, including: their environmental assessment framework; their efforts to support First Nations in the application of models designed to build capacity in order to deal with major project opportunities; their interest in assisting industry in the engagement with First Nations communities. These opportunities are one ACEC member firms are encouraged to take advantage of by reaching out to the Coalition directly or through ACEC.