The story “Fort McKay chief optimistic after oil conference” (Jan. 28) may have left your readers with the impression that the Alberta government didn’t participate in the recent “Energy and the Oilsands: Aboriginal Perspective” conference in Fort McMurray.
In fact, as the new Minister of Aboriginal Relations, it was my great honour to deliver a keynote address on the first day of the conference, which was hosted by the Fort McKay First Nations and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. I attended along with departmental staff and appreciated having the opportunity to speak with members of the First Nations, government and industry.
As a Northern minister, I applaud the great partnerships that exist between Aboriginal owned companies and oilsands producers. These important partnerships drive Alberta’s economy forward, and contribute to a better quality of life for all Albertans. The Fort McKay Group of Companies is one example of excellence in partnering that has resulted in increased community jobs and a thriving First Nation economy.
Residing in the North, I am also aware of the strong sense of stewardship that many First Nations and Métis people feel toward the land. Alberta also recognizes that responsible resource development means ensuring First Nation’s Treaty rights are respected and that we uphold our legal duty to consult when development on Crown land may adversely affect those rights.
The Alberta government knows that resource development cannot come at the expense of the natural environment. One of our priorities is to maintain the balance between development and preservations of land. Alberta continues to be a global leader in responsible energy development, with some of the strictest regulations in the world.
It was my pleasure to attend the conference and its message is clear—when Aboriginal people succeed, Alberta succeeds.