Sask. First Nation says Biden's move to block Keystone XL pipeline means lost opportunity
SASKATOON -- All it took was the stroke of a pen, and the Keystone X-L pipeline expansion was blocked by incoming U.S President Joe Biden.
But far from the powerbrokers in Washington, a First Nation in Saskatchewan is feeling the impact.
"If I had a chance to meet president Biden, I would say to him you know, give this consideration again," said Chief Alvin Francis of the Nekaneet First Nation in southwestern Saskatchewan.
According to Francis, the First Nation was part of an equity stake agreement in Keystone X-L that would have paved the way for an investment return.
Francis said the deal could have brought in funds to put more students through post-secondary school and deliver programs for youth.
"We would have had access to those dollars to provide them for our youth, whatever it would be, hockey, baseball, soccer, you know, all of those programs."
But pipelines have been the subject of large protests over environmental concerns and land disputes. Some have even questioned the future of resource development.
Several projects have been delayed, or in the case of Keystone X-L, cancelled completely.
"To ensure that there is a balance of protecting the environment and achieving some economic development, that's what we're striving for," said Stephen Buffalo, President and CEO of the Indian Resource Council of Canada.
Buffalo said he understands and respects those opposed to pipelines, and their concerns.
However, he said being involved in resource projects can bring those concerns to the table and produce much needed economic benefits for first nations.
"We're not going to get more money federally from the governments to sustain our communities. Our populations are growing and our landmasses aren't.”
Ken Coates, a professor at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy said a balanced way of thinking is important.
"People who want to just take every bit of oil and gas out of the ground. That isn't right anymore. But the other people who want to leave it all in the ground and stop this development, that isn't right anymore either. We need a more balanced approach." Coates said.
Meanwhile, Francis said he's not giving up on the growing opportunity.
"My glass is always half full. I have always got to make sure that whatever project I am trying to get out there, I am going to make sure that Nekaneet has their say."