Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, a Sto:lo member in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, is the chairman of a new Indigenous advisory committee at the Canada Energy Regulator. (Submitted to The Canadian Press)

Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, a Sto:lo member in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, is the chairman of a new Indigenous advisory committee at the Canada Energy Regulator. (Submitted to The Canadian Press)

Head of new Indigenous committee aims for systemic change at Canada Energy Regulator

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government replaced the National Energy Board with the new regulator in 2019

The chairman of a new Indigenous advisory committee at the Canada Energy Regulator says he wants to fix a system that has treated First Nations, Inuit and Metis people as an “afterthought.”

Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, a Sto:lo member in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, said he doesn’t view it as a problem that the committee has no decision-making power over specific projects.

McNeil said his group, made up of nine members, provides strategic advice to the energy regulator on incorporating Indigenous Peoples in natural resource development and oversight.

The committee meets regularly with the board and senior management, and he said in an interview Thursday he wants to take advantage of that and “fix the big system overall.”

“Quite often, in other aspects, we’re brought in as an afterthought or an add-on. In this case, we’re part of the CER act itself,” he said. “The influence is compounded when you have a willing partner sitting with us at the table — not at the other side of the table, but with us at the table.

“This thing has tremendous potential, in short order, to influence projects going forward.”

While McNeil said he’s not focused on existing projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the committee’s advice may be applied to such projects and have an indirect effect on operations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government replaced the National Energy Board with the new regulator in 2019 amid a number of battles with First Nations over pipelines. His government has also contended with long-standing concerns from investors that building natural resource projects is too difficult in Canada.

The Canada Energy Regulator Act aimed to clear the path forward for such projects by bringing Indigenous Peoples into the fold, requiring the regulator to create the advisory committee.

The committee is still in its early stages and recently met to endorse its terms of reference, which state its purpose is to transform the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the regulator.

McNeil said he sees a “huge difference” between the old energy board and the new organization.

“We had our battles with the NEB back in the day, but once I read the act, there was no fear,” he said. “I saw so much opportunity, so much potential, I couldn’t say no.”

He said when Indigenous people encountered problems in the past with natural resource companies, regulators and governments, it was often because “they have no idea who we are.”

“We’re all distinct. We’re all different,” he said. “We’re building the cultural competency at the CER as a whole.”

He noted the act also includes a commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which requires “free, prior and informed consent.” The committee will help the regulator build a new consultation model that factors in this requirement, which means engaging with communities at the earliest stages, McNeil said.

“I feel really strongly that’s going to compel companies to do a whole lot more work in advance so they have more confidence before they bring (projects forward),” he said.

Cassie Doyle, board chairwoman at the regulator, said the Indigenous committee will support systemic change in the organization and help it achieve its overall goal of reconciliation.

“This Indigenous advisory committee is unique in that it’s operating at a strategic level. We have already received very good advice (from it),” she said.

The regulator’s CEO, Gitane De Silva, said that advice has included, for example, how it should be transforming its approach to Indigenous oversight and monitoring of specific projects.

“While that’s not specific to a piece of infrastructure, that will help us form a policy that we use in all our interactions with regulated industry,” she said.

She added that the regulator is approaching this process “with humility.”

“We know we have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We very much welcome the advice of the committee and their individual members and we see it as a tremendous opportunity for the organization to be a much better regulator for all of Canada.”

Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Just Posted

Parking time is to be limited in one spot on 9th. (Houston Today photo)
District seeks grant to update bylaws

And decides on 15-minute parking

Bench installation on 9th Street is another sign the project is nearing completion. (Houston Today photo)
Progress being made on 9th Street finish

District aiming for June completion

File photo
Mental health checks proving valuable

Police officer and nurse team up each week

The two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project arrived in Topley last week with Justin Cradock, owner of Pitbull Trucking Ltd. and the area is now getting prepared for installation. (Dan Simmons photo/Houston Today)
Cow Moose sign project billboards arrive in Topley

Two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project have arrived in Topley… Continue reading

File photo
Snow clearing changes would cost money, survey finds

Council being asked to give direction

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Most Read