Initial Engagement Agreement between eight First Nations and Gazoduq paves way for meaningful Engagement Process
Montréal, March 11, 2020 – Eight First Nations whose territory is affected by Gazoduq’s proposed route have united and confirm the signing of an initial engagement agreement with the company (the “Agreement”). This Agreement sets the framework for engagement between the First Nations and Gazoduq concerning the proposed 780 km long underground natural gas transmission line between northeastern Ontario and Saguenay (the “Project”).
The eight First Nations concerned are: Wahgoshig First Nation, Abitibiwinni First Nation, Lac-Simon Anishnabe First Nation, Atikamew of Opitciwan, Atikamekw of Wemotaci, Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation, Essipit First Nation and Pessamit First Nation (the “First Nations”). These First Nations have united to analyze the impact of the Project to ensure their rights are respected and their concerns accommodated. The collaborative entity they have created is named Mamo Aki, which means “united territories” in a blend of Anishnabe, Atikamekw and Innu.
Through Mamo Aki, the First Nations will analyze the Project’s environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts. The aim is to collect and prepare the best information possible in order for each First Nation to ultimately take an informed position at the end of the day, on necessary accommodation measures and on the Project.
From an operational standpoint, the Agreement between the eight First Nations and Gazoduq establishes a framework for communication and information sharing as well as a timeline for future steps and is funded by Gazoduq as part of the Project’s development.
The Agreement does not grant consent by the First Nations to the Project; rather, it is a key step in allowing them to be meaningfully involved from the beginning in evaluating the Project’s environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts.
Gazoduq is aware of the First Nations stated deep-rooted relationship with their land and welcomes the innovative approach introduced by the creation of Mamo Aki. This approach will help ensure that the rights and concerns of the First Nations affected by the Project will be comprehensively considered and processed in the planning stages of the Project according to this Agreement. This Agreement is concluded in a spirit of openness, transparency, collaboration and mutual respect between the parties.
Finally, the First Nations have been informed and are aware of the recent circumstances affecting financial investment in the Project and the importance of Gazoduq reassessing its short-term priorities. In this context, the engagement process provided under the Agreement is maintained and the Parties will collaborate to adjust the schedule of engagement activities. Gazoduq values the First Nations’ vital role in the engagement and recognizes the importance of First Nations’ support.
“When a project is likely to affect our lands, it follows that it will directly affect our communities, members, families and culture. First Nations are best placed to ensure the implementation of environmental, social, cultural and economic best practices. First Nations play a vital role in the planning and development of the Project to ensure that the Project is aligned with our distinct values and aspirations and respects our rights. This harmony is crucial. The collaborative approach implemented by Mamo Aki and the initial engagement agreement will help us move in that direction.” - Adam Jourdain, President, Mamo Aki Limited Partnership
“We welcome this engagement agreement as it frames our exchanges with the eight First Nations involved. In the same spirit of transparency and mutual respect, we remain open to collaborating with each of the Indigenous groups Gazoduq must consult. Indeed, Gazoduq will continue to seek the collaboration of every such Indigenous groups to further our consultation process.” - Louis Bergeron, President, Gazoduq
About Mamo Aki
Mamo Aki is a limited partnership formed between the eight First Nations whose territories are directly affected by the Project, namely Wahgoshig First Nation, Abitibiwinni First Nation, Lac-Simon Anishnabe First Nation, Atikamew of Opitciwan, Atikamekw of Wemotaci, Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation, Essipit First Nation and Pessamit First Nation. Mamo Aki exists purely as a structure for negotiation to facilitate exchanges with Gazoduq, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec. Each First Nation is self-determined and will ultimately determine its position regarding the Gazoduq Project.
Gazoduq is a Québec company led by a team of people who have a proven track record for developing and completing large-scale natural gas line projects in North America. It is supported by major investors with international expertise in developing natural gas projects. Gazoduq wishes to build an approximately 780 km long underground natural gas transmission line between northeastern Ontario and Saguenay in collaboration with the communities concerned and aims to develop business partnerships with local companies. www.gazoduq.com
Mamo Aki contact
Legal advisor to the Mamo Aki Limited Partnership
Olthuis, Kleer, Townshend LLP
Senior Advisor, Communications and Media Relations