Interview: Strengthening relations between the First Nations and the Canadian LNG industry

Strengthening relations between the First Nations and the Canadian LNG industry

Interview with Chief Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO, First Nations LNG Alliance

The First Nations LNG Alliance is a collective of First Nations supporting LNG developments in British Columbia. Working to increase positive LNG dialogue, the Alliance provides education and information to the First Nations to consider the economic and resource development opportunities.

CEO of First Nations LNG Alliance (FNLNGA) and Chief of Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Karen Ogen-Toews spoke to Gastech News ahead of the Canada LNG Conference and Exhibition taking place on the 16th-18th May in Vancouver. With the Canadian LNG industry receiving some good news recently regarding the positive relationships with the First Nations and particular projects, Karen spoke to us about the industry and the opportunities it can bring.

Gastech Insights: In comparison to a year/2 years ago, how do you feel the relationship between the First Nations and the gas industry has grown?

Karen Ogen-Toews: I believe that it is has come a long way and both parties are still working on trust, communication and ongoing collaboration.  It is not about checking off a box and moving on, it is a continuous relationship moving forward once any agreement is signed. There are some positive examples that show industry proponents approaching First Nations first, and that’s a good sign.

Gastech Insights: Aside from skills training, what other areas of opportunity do you see for the First Nations as the LNG industry develops in Canada?

Karen Ogen-Toews: I see equity ownership as essential. First Nations want to be self-sustaining and build their economic development capabilities.  This is a way forward and the way of the future.

Gastech Insights: SteelheadLNG’s project – Malahat LNG – has recently received good news in terms of alliances and agreements with the First Nations. How do you feel about this news and what does it mean for the industry?

Karen Ogen-Toews: I believe this is forward thinking and excellent news, good relationship building and a good agreement is a win – win for industry and First Nations. It sets a positive example for others who are considering signing on.

Gastech Insights: What do you see as the greatest challenge surrounding the Pacific NorthWest LNG project and how can this be overcome?

Karen Ogen-Toews: I think consulting with the First Nations in locating the site and ensuring that it is suitable for everyone is a challenge. There are also environmental issues, food, fish for First Nations, which are all important. These are their livelihood. When that is threatened it can be controversial, so it is vitally important that their input is taken into consideration from the outset.

Gastech Insights: What takeaways would you like attendees at Canada LNG Conference and Exhibition to go home with regarding the First Nations and your work?

Karen Ogen-Toews: That with good solid relationship building, on-going dialogue, and communication you can have a win-win relationship with First Nations. Environmental issues are first and foremost the main concerns for First Nations and once those issues are addressed, First Nations will collaborate and work with industry. This can be a prosperous and mutually beneficial endeavour.