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Indigenous loan guarantee applauded by major projects coalition

Fall economic update promises federal loan guarantees for First Nations in next federal budget
David Jimmie, second from left, of the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, spoke last week at an energy forum on the need for government backed loan guarantees for First Nations groups.

The First Nations Major Projects Coalition is applauding a new federal Indigenous loan guarantee program intended to help First Nations take equity positions in major resource projects, like the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The need for government-backed loan guarantees for First Nations was raised last week at an energy forum hosted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.

“Access to capital has always been a big discussion in this province and this country for First Nations,” said David Jimmie, chief of the Squiala First Nation, and vice president of finance for the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, which wants to buy the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline, on a 50-50 basis, along with its industry partner, Pembina Pipeline (TSX:PPL).

“When you look at what Alberta does with the AIOC (Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation) in providing support through loan guarantees for major projects and infrastructure, that’s something that B.C. needs to take a serious look at.”

In the Fall Economic Update today, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced there will be a federal loan guarantee for First Nations in the next federal budget.

“With the number of major projects with potential for Indigenous equity ownership anticipated to grow significantly over the next decade, the government, with Indigenous partners, is working to increase access to the affordable capital that Indigenous communities will require to make these opportunities a reality. This will make projects more economically feasible for Indigenous communities by decreasing the cost of capital,” the Fall Update states.

“Achieving Indigenous consent through partnership is material to the future of the Canadian economy, particularly as we look to advance major projects that will help Canada meet its 2050 net zero targets,” said Chief Sharleen Gale, chairperson of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC) board of directors.

“Today’s commitment to establish a national Indigenous loan guarantee program is a significant step on our shared path of economic reconciliation and a further unwinding of the economic exclusion we as First Nations people have been subjected to under the Indian Act. We want our future generations to have the same opportunity as all Canadians.”

The FNMPC is currently providing support and guidance to First Nation members involved in 14 major projects, worth $55 billion in total, that have Indigenous equity opportunities.

“In the next 18 months, the FNMPC’s members could bring forward up to $500 million in loan guarantee proposals to become equity partners in projects impacting their nations," the FNMPC stated in a press release.