The Fort McKay First Nation announced a new 90-day strategy to finalize a Moose Lake Plan.
Chief Mel Grandjamb made the announcement following the Moose Lake Together Summit with the Alberta government in Edmonton on Jan. 31, 2020.
Also in attendance were Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, and Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson.
After 20 years of negotiations, Grandjamb said the First Nation would cross the finish line on Moose Lake.
“We are putting in place a three-month roadmap to finalize the Moose Lake Plan with Alberta. Over the next 90 days, Alberta and Fort McKay will have monthly meetings and weekly working sessions between Alberta and Fort McKay to ensure we work closely together to get the job done.”
In October, the Fort McKay First Nation asked the Alberta Energy Regulator to overturn its decision on Prosper’s Rigel project near Moose Lake.
He thanked Minister Nixon, Minister Wilson, and Premier Kenney for their commitment to Treaty rights.
“This is a demonstration of their commitment to respect Treaty rights even as they support responsible growth in the Athabasca oil sands. This commitment made today shows that responsible resource development can be a tool for reconciliation.”
According to the First Nation’s Moose Lake Plan, it called for a 10-km zone around the lake.
The zone would protect the area and honour millennia-old traditions and treaty rights.
In a statement, Environment Minister Jason Nixon said the Summit was an important step in discussing Moose Lake management.
“We recognize the significant efforts of the Fort McKay First Nation and we are encouraged by the great progress that the community and government have made to date.”
Nixon added it was time to finalize a plan balancing Moose Lake’s complex needs and opportunities.
“We look forward to working in good faith to bring a resolution to this long-standing issue and hope they’ll support a balanced approach.”
Once approved, Grandjamb said they would allow managed oil sands and forestry resource development in the Moose Lake area.
However, he added development must satisfy certain conditions to maintain Moose Lake’s ecological and cultural integrity.
“This is traditional land that is sacred to Fort McKay; it is where our ancestors have lived for millennia, and today it is the last significant wilderness in our traditional territory. My community is proud to be a longstanding contributor to Alberta’s economy.”
Grandjamb said the First Nation is proud to champion responsible resource development.
He also said the Moose Lake Plan provides clarity and certainty of economic growth and respect to Treaty rights.