Gateway Gazette

Indigenous Participation to Create Jobs

Alberta’s government is taking action to ensure Indigenous companies and communities benefit from the province’s energy industry.

Several measures will strengthen Indigenous participation in Alberta’s $1-billion Site Rehabilitation Program (SRP). This includes appointing an Indigenous liaison to help facilitate Indigenous participation in the program, and establishing an ongoing working group with Indigenous communities and companies. The working group will strengthen relationships between Indigenous-owned or operated oil field service contractors and Indigenous communities with oil and gas sites on their lands and surrounding areas.

The working group includes about 50 participants, with more joining all the time, including Backwoods Energy Services, an oil field service company owned by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. Through the first round of the SRP, Backwoods Energy has been approved to conduct closure work on 55 sites on Enoch Cree Nation. Another Indigenous comapny, Western Petroleum Management, was approved to conduct work on 257 sites across the province. Further Indigenous involvement is expected in subsequent rounds of the two-year SRP.

“First Nations must be a part of Alberta’s economic recovery from the COVID recession. The billion dollar Site Rehabilitation Program is an important part of the Alberta Recovery Plan. It will create thousands of jobs, and help to save energy service companies during this crisis in the oil and gas industry. We’re doing everything we can to ensure that Indigenous Albertans participate in this program, as workers, contractors and by cleaning up abandoned wells on First Nations Reserves.”Jason Kenney, Premier

In late 2019, Alberta’s government established the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation to make it easier for Indigenous communities to access funding, invest in major natural resource development projects and fuel their prosperity while helping to grow Alberta’s natural resource sectors.

“This unprecedented collaboration between government, First Nations and industry, that benefits all peoples, is what our common ancestors had in mind when Treaty Six was signed.”Grand Chief Billy Morin, Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, and Chief of Enoch Cree Nation

“As majority shareholder of Backwoods Energy Services, we are pleased to see the investment into Indigenous communities as well as the partnership between Enoch Cree Nation, the Site Rehabilitation Program and Backwoods Energy. The program provides important initial funding to clean up well sites throughout Alberta and within Alexis Traditional Territory.”Chief Tony Alexis, Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation

“It’s encouraging to see companies like Backwoods and hundreds of others get back in the field to do the skilled work that Alberta’s energy sector is known for. This program will get thousands of Albertans working again and will accelerate our clean-up and reclamation efforts. We continue to make enhancements to the program. With $900 million left to distribute, we will ensure the program’s positive impacts reach across the province.”Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy

“Meaningful participation in energy projects is a game-changer for Indigenous businesses and communities. The response we are hearing from Indigenous communities to this program is overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to helping them become the economic powerhouses we all know they can be.”Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations

Since its launch on May 1, $69 million has been allocated to 140 companies through the Site Rehabilitation Program. This will create more than 300 of the approximately 5,300 jobs the program is expected to create. The program provides grants to get oil field service workers, biologists, chemists, engineers, foresters and geoscience technologists back to work cleaning up oil and gas sites across the province.

Quick facts

  • The Site Rehabilitation Program was developed and launched in less than two weeks, using an incremental approach by rolling out $100-million grant periods to ensure:
    • responsible distribution of grants for eligible closure work
    • the ability to monitor and improve the performance of the program along the way
  • All applications from grant periods one and two have been reviewed and government is in the final stages of notifying applicants of the status of their grant applications.

Alberta’s government is helping create 50,000 good jobs for Albertans by building schools, roads and other core infrastructure that benefits Albertans and communities. It will further diversify our economy by helping sectors grow and succeed and return investment to our province by ensuring we have the most competitive tax environment in Canada.

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