Members of the British Columbia Metis Federation (BCMF) said they’re happy with the federal government’s announcement regarding the approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion project last week.
BCMF president, Keith Henry, said if the project goes forward it would mean hundreds of jobs for the group’s members.
“We’ve been working with partners all along the project corridor and we’ve been trying to make sure they know who our Metis small businesses are, who the people are looking for work, so we’re hoping that sub-contractors will hire some Metis people and that there are some contract opportunities for our small businesses,” Henry said.
“The Metis community in Clearwater, for the last couple years, have decided they want to see training, employment and procurement come out of that so we’re just hoping that this does take the next step.”
Henry added the BCMF represents roughly 800 members that live along the project corridor between the Alberta border and Vancouver.
The group gave its support to the Trans Mountain expansion project years ago and has been working toward identifying potential jobs, with members saying it’s been taking too long for the initiative to get started.
“Even if (the jobs) are just short term, because the reality is some families need any job. So short-term or not, we believe there’s going to be a couple hundred jobs for our members up and down the line; there’s a new prospect of equity sharing of the project, so we could leave some permanent resources behind for legacy cultural work we need to do and we have about 60 Metis small businesses that are all being engaged with potential sub-contract opportunities,” said Henry.
“This is worth millions of dollars to our organization and community for our members and partner organizations, so it’s really necessary and really important; it’s time to move this forward.”
Henry emphasized the significant role the pipeline expansion would play when it comes to Indigenous economic development, especially since many other industries in B.C. aren’t doing as well as they have in the past.
He added that members of the federation aren’t fully dependant on the project, but it’s definitely the most timely source for jobs at the present time.
“Forestry isn’t doing well in B.C. right now, it’s not what it used to be. Fisheries aren’t what they used to be, mining has slowed right down. What else is there right now?” said Henry.
“It’s not like all of our eggs are in this basket by any means, but it’s the most timely one and the question is, if not this, then what?”
Henry was in Clearwater for National Indigenous Peoples Day, which BCMF helped fund, and also to discuss what the local Metis community is doing should the pipeline expansion finally come through the area.
“We’re getting ready for a terrestrial study, so part if this is about discussing how we’re going to implement that,” Henry said.
“This stuff is part of what’s gone on with regulatory reviews for the Trans Mountain Expansion, but there are Metis community people here that are practicing cultural things, they’re harvesting off the land, so we just want to get a better sense of that as one of the long term benefits of that project for us, getting a proper Metis land use study done here in the Clearwater area.”