Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is warning the province’s $1-billion fund established last year to support Indigenous participation in major projects won’t have any projects to back if the forces that helped kill the Frontier oilsands mining project this week continue to achieve their goals.
In a speech at the Indigenous Participation in Major Projects conference in Calgary that heavily criticized “green left urban militants,” Kenney insisted his government is the one that has the best interests of First Nations at heart because it supports building major energy projects.
He announced that the Woodland Cree First Nation in northwest Alberta will receive a $187,688 grant — the first approved under the $10-million Indigenous Litigation Fund announced last year — to intervene in support of Alberta’s constitutional challenge of the federal government’s Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act.
In the provincial throne speech on Tuesday, Kenney’s government said it is prepared to invest directly in the resource industry if that’s what it takes to boost Alberta’s wellspring industry.
But he didn’t mention the pledge in his speech at the conference and left without speaking to reporters.
Roy Fox, chairman of the Indian Resource Council that sponsored the conference, praised the province for its programs to help Indigenous projects get off the ground and criticized federal bureaucrats who have stood in the way of economic development opportunities in the past.
“Now is the time to assert our political and business leadership capabilities and reduce the poverty that plagues many of those that rely on us,” he said.
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