Birch Narrows Dene Nation Signs Oilsands Deal

Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 14:55



Members of the Birch Narrows Dene Nation may soon have access to plenty of jobs in the oilsands, thanks to a deal signed in Saskatoon yesterday.


The First Nation and Oilsands Quest signed a memorandum of understanding.


The two sides agree to work together to ensure the band gets access to jobs created by oil exploration in the oilsands.


They also agree to work together to make sure the impact of that work — on the environment, and on Dene society — is as small as possible.


Birch Narrows Chief Robert Sylvester says one example would be to cut down on the number of roads in the area, so that traditional hunting and trapping areas wouldn’t be impacted too much.


Sylvester says the next step is to work out the details of this agreement.


Oilsands Quest CEO Christopher Hopkins says the band and his company are already “good neighbours in behaviour”, and this agreement will be the mechanism in how they measure their “economic relationship”.


This is the second MOU the company has signed with Aboriginal people in the province’s northwest.


A similar agreement was signed in La Loche about a year ago.


Oilsands Quest has been exploring for oil in northwest Saskatchewan for about five years.


Hopkins is not sure when oil will actually be produced.


He says several technical issues have to be worked out first.