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Fort McKay Métis on board with Frontier Mine

An aerial view of Fort McKay. Photo supplied by Fort McMurray Tourism

Teck Resources’ proposed Frontier Mine gained another backer in the Fort McKay Métis.

Ron Quintal, President of the Fort McKay Métis, said their agreement with the Vancouver-based company took two years to make.

“It’s not something you don’t see every day by way of major oilsands projects coming out and making sure they do the consultation and assessment that takes into consideration so many Indigenous groups in a way this project has.”

Quintal said 14 different Indigenous groups ratified agreements with Teck’s proposed project worth $20.6-billion.

Historic agreement

To secure support from the Fort McKay Métis, he said the leadership felt they had to approach its membership.

Quintal said the results were quite historic.

“We took this for ratification to our membership, and they voted unanimously in favour of moving ahead with signing off the agreement with Teck. That is another feat that has never been achieved in my community [or during] my time as [the] leader.”

Despite the seemingly overwhelming support, the federal government still has work to do.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson must refer the matter to the cabinet to see if it aligns with the government’s climate change commitments.

Much debate focuses on the reported emissions of 4.1 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year Frontier would produce.

However, some environmental groups said that the estimate is too low for an open mine of Frontier’s size.

Quintal said their agreement with Teck addresses those environmental concerns.

“Mitigating the impacts are no easy feat. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve put in the work to make sure if that project moves ahead, it’s probably going to be one of the only projects in my tenure as leader that we’ve been able to so thoroughly consult on, and ensure that the community has a voice at the table when it comes to developing the project.”

He added Ottawa has until the end of February to make a decision.

The federal government promised Canada would achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.