First Nations highway blockade could have unintended consequences for native workers

Blog, Trade, Joseph Quesnel

Some First Nations communities in northern Alberta are saying they will blockade Highway 63, the route leading to Fort McMurray, if no progress comes out of talks between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leadership.

The recent warnings come on the heels of previous roadblocks on Highway 63 as part of the Idle No More protests against Bill C-45, the federal omnibus budget bill that included amendments to the  Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental  Assessment Act.

Northern bands are particularly concerned about changes to the Navagable Water Protections Act as they believe the removal of federal oversight over northern water bodies near the oilsands will affect the environment.

But, protesters considering these actions should consider that aboriginal communities are also dependent on work with the oil and gas sector up north.

First Nations  communities and Metis settlements have secured contracts and deals with major energy producers in the region.

Rather than damage their own economies, these communities should consider waiting for the results of these historic meetings.