Oil sands protesters ignore impact on Aboriginals

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel

Many of those protesting the oil sands in Ottawa (especially the Keystone XL pipeline) likely believe they have the sanction of First Nation communities in opposing oil sands development.

It is certainly true that some First Nations have stated their opposition to the pipeline or oil sands development, but one wonders if this opposition is representative of the many, many Aboriginals (both First Nation and Metis) who depend on the oil and gas sector for jobs and income?

First Nations have legitimate environmental concerns about the oil sands, but stricter regulations in Alberta and improving technologies are always reducing the footprint of the oil sands on the environment.

Does this include the 1,600 Aboriginal full-time employees in permanent oil sands jobs? How about the billions that Aboriginal-owned companies benefit from through contracts with oil sands companies?

A TD Economics Study released in June 2011 confirmed that the commodities boom has helped double the income of Aboriginal households and businesses over the last decade. This boom is largely due to oil and gas and the industries that service it.

Education used to be called the “New Buffalo” for Aboriginals living on the Prairies. Now, it is oil and gas.

Cutting back on oil sands development will only have a detrimental effect on Aboriginals peoples who are trying to get ahead.