ATC, Industry and Federal Government sign ground-breaking agreement
Federal Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault was in Fort McMurray on January 24, 2000 to sign a three year funding agreement with the Athabasca Tribal Council. The agreement will see the federal government donate $750,000 in support of ATC First Nation’s economic infrastructure, business development and community economic spin-offs.
"The whole objective is to create an aboriginal economy," Nault said. "It’s a simple strategy but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done."
The strategy brings together major resource companies, the ATC First Nations and federal, provincial and municipal governments and the ATC / Industry Working Group to ensure the First Nations are involved and benefit from the development of the oil sands.
"What it basically means are resources for people to work together to try to bad that capacity, to build the relationships, to work with the private sector on benefit agreements and to understand the environmental implications in the resource sector," Nault told the Fort McMurray TODAY.
"When you’ve got the private sector and the likes of these outstanding corporations in the region, 1 don’t think there needs to be any caveats. 1 think we all know what we’re looking for and that is to create aboriginal economies and create employment.
"The fastest growing labour force that corporations up here would have is the aboriginal people and so it makes a lot of sense to marry those two interests."
Phil Lachambre, Executive Vice-President of Syncrude Canada, said the involvement of Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries was proof the agreement crossed industry lines, something that would serve the First Nations long after the oil sands developments were gone.
"We don’t see this as a one-shot, short-term kind of a deal," Lachambre said. "We’re both going to be here a long time and after the plants are gone the aboriginal communities will still be here so we started the discussion around what makes sense for the longer term."
Jim Boucher, Chief of the Fort McKay First Nation and President of the ATC, said the signing is an important stage in addressing the issues of long-term benefits, the environment, employment and training and infrastructure for aboriginal people. "This is substantial in making sure those commitments are realized," the Chief said.