TransCanada’s Energy East Project: Mapping Aboriginal Interests in Ontario

TransCanada’s Energy East Project: Mapping Aboriginal Interests in Ontario

Note: This is one of a series of posts we're providing on the TransCanada Energy East Project and related oil & gas pipeline infastructure and Aboriginal interests.  Other posts include:

By: Emily Ferguson, Consultant, Environmental Review & Regulatory Affairs; Don Richardson, Managing Partner – Shared Value Solutions Ltd.

[Note: this is the second of several information posts we'll be providing on this project and TransCanada Pipelines and Aboriginal Interests. The first post, on"Mapping Aboriginal Interests" is here. See all of our posts here: TransCanada's Proposed Energy East Pipeline.]

According to TransCanada, if approved, the Energy East Pipeline, would be a 4,600-kilometre pipeline carrying 1.1-million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to points in Eastern Canada. TransCanada’s website says that currently, the project has the following major components:

  • Converting an existing natural gas pipeline to an oil transportation pipeline
  • Constructing new pipelines in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Eastern Ontario, Québec and New Brunswick to link up with the converted pipe
  • Constructing the associated facilities, pump stations and tank terminals required to move crude oil from Alberta to Québec and New Brunswick, including marine facilities that enable access to other markets by ship

Ontario – never considered a major oil and gas province – is now emerging as a key space in Canada’s pipeline networks, due to major changes in how companies are accessing unconventional oil and gas in the west in Alberta and North Dakota, and in the northeastern United States [See our recent blog post on Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Unconventional Oil and Gas for some context]

As well, Aboriginal communities in Ontario are paying close attention to pipeline matters. With this attention and Ontario responses, Ontario now has the making of a pipeline policy addressing Aboriginal Rights and Interests.

What Is TransCanada Saying About Aboriginal Consultation To-date?

In its Project Description, TransCanada says that it has initiated preliminary discussions with some Aboriginal communities. TransCanada project staff have identified areas of interest and concern that include the following:

  • Aboriginal agreements and protocols
  • Aboriginal interests and treaty rights
  • Aboriginal trapping, hunting and fishing
  • business opportunities and employment
  • construction methods and timing
  • cumulative effects of mining, pipelines and other energy developments
  • economic benefits or participation
  • emergency response management plans
  • facilities and pipeline routing
  • pipeline incidents
  • pipeline integrity, particularly the conversion section
  • proposed protected areas
  • safety
  • training and employment opportunities
  • vegetation and wetlands
  • watercourse crossings and water quality
  • wildlife and wildlife habitat

Some Aboriginal communities have expressed interest in obtaining equity positions to own a portion of the pipeline, or to obtain revenue sharing agreements. At this early stage of the proposal, TransCanada has said that it will not entertain these discussions. A Globe and Mail article stated, “the dozens of First Nations along the route of TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East pipeline should not expect offers for equity stakes in the $12-billion project as the company seeks approval, although a host of other economic benefits would accrue to the communities, TransCanada’s chief executive officer said.”

Other areas of interest may include response to spills, accidents and malfunctions, existing emergency response capabilities, upgrading telecommunication services to enable emergency response, cultural heritage and archaeological interests, current uses of traditional lands, First Nations approaches to water management, traditional ecological knowledge, Aboriginal consultation and accommodation processes, First Nation environmental assessments and capacity, traditional land use and occupancy study resourcing, and Aboriginal and industry partnerships. Communities may also see impacts on current and future business interests such as power generation and transmission business pursuits. Some communities may have grievances with respect to the historic siting of the TransCanada Mainline pipeline system and related impacts such as access to traditional territories, harvesting impacts and so forth.

The TransCanada Project Description also says that the company “continues to discuss opportunities for infrastructure development regarding electrical power to pump stations in northern Ontario with local and government agencies, power providers and First Nation communities.”

Aboriginal communities whose traditional territories include new transmission lines to facilitate the Energy East project may wish to explore specific consultation with the OEB on transmission line approval applications.

Capacity Funding

We understand that many Aboriginal communities are interested in obtaining capacity funding from TransCanada to conduct their own community consultation processes, evaluate the proposal on their terms and provide comments on the project TransCanada and Crown agencies.

Considering the Energy East project will affect over 155 Aboriginal communities and organizations, Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) and Traditional Land Use (TLU) information to understand traditional land and resource use will play a large role in understanding both the risks and the benefits of the project. TransCanada has announced they will provide “capacity funding and resources to support participation in the engagement process”. First Nations and Métis communities may be interested in conducting TK/TLU studies, in conjunction with technical and environmental project reviews to come to their own conclusions about the proposed project and to provide feedback to TransCanada in project planning and to the NEB in making their decision.  Intersections between TransCanada Energy East and First Nations across Ontario are many.

NEB Participant Funding Program for First nation, Inuit and Métis communities will be made available to help cover some of the costs associated with participating in the hearing. The total amount of NEB funding available to First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities is expected to be released along with the hearing order some time in the next 2-3 months.

First Nations, Métis and Community Meetings

To better understand the potential impact on treaty and Aboriginal rights, the OEB will hold meetings specific to First Nation and Métis concerns. While these meetings may cover extensive discussions on treaty and Aboriginal rights, there will also be an opportunity to discuss economic impacts on communities that may result from the pipeline project. This OEB process does not substitute for the Duty to Consult and Accommodate by the federal Crown.

New OEB discussions with First Nations and Métis representatives are rapidly approaching! Previous meetings took place between March 25th and April 8th, 2014. All discussions ran from 6:30 to 9pm. Aboriginal groups were encouraged to make presentations during these meetings. To express interest in presenting at future meetings, the OEB can be contacted at: or 416-544-5171.

OEB held Spring 2014 discussions with First Nations and Métis representatives in:

Kenora – March 25th

Thunder Bay – March 26th

Nipigon – March 28th

Timmins – April 1st

North Bay – April 2nd

Kanata – April 7th

Akwesasne – April 8th

What's Our Role?

It’s challenging to make sense of all the regulatory processes and decisions that affect a project of this magnitude. At Shared Value Solutions Ltd., we are paying close attention to these matters on behalf of several clients and will continue to provide information like this to assist.

For us, Traditional knowledge matters to protect and enhance aboriginal community wellbeing, aboriginal interests and aboriginal economic development: traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), traditional land use studies, combining scientific and traditional knowledge, having aboriginal environmental monitors and BEAHR trainingtraditional ecological knowledge and environmental change, aboriginal land use planning, and integration of aboriginal traditional knowledge in environmental assessments.

For more information, please contact Emily Ferguson – Consultant, Environmental Review and Regulatory Affairs –


Stay in Touch

Keep watching our blog posts on TransCanada Energy East.  We'll continue to post about key Aboriginal interests, including traditional land use studies, indigenous knowledge, aboriginal economic development, traditional land use and occupancy mapping, environmental assessment peer review, aboriginal-private sector business partnerships, and other topics related to oil and gas pipeline projects: follow us on Twitter at @SharedValueCA, follow us on Facebook at and follow us on LinkedIN -

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About Shared Value Solutions Ltd.

At Shared Value Solutions Ltd. we bring the best environmental peer review, strategic advice, community engagement and traditional knowledge, land use, and socio-economic research expertise to address your challenges and opportunities.




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