Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, a Sto:lo member in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, is the chairman of a new Indigenous advisory committee at the Canada Energy Regulator. (Submitted to The Canadian Press)

Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, a Sto:lo member in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, is the chairman of a new Indigenous advisory committee at the Canada Energy Regulator. (Submitted to The Canadian Press)

Head of new Indigenous committee aims for systemic change at Canada Energy Regulator

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government replaced the National Energy Board with the new regulator in 2019

The chairman of a new Indigenous advisory committee at the Canada Energy Regulator says he wants to fix a system that has treated First Nations, Inuit and Metis people as an “afterthought.”

Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, a Sto:lo member in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, said he doesn’t view it as a problem that the committee has no decision-making power over specific projects.

McNeil said his group, made up of nine members, provides strategic advice to the energy regulator on incorporating Indigenous Peoples in natural resource development and oversight.

The committee meets regularly with the board and senior management, and he said in an interview Thursday he wants to take advantage of that and “fix the big system overall.”

“Quite often, in other aspects, we’re brought in as an afterthought or an add-on. In this case, we’re part of the CER act itself,” he said. “The influence is compounded when you have a willing partner sitting with us at the table — not at the other side of the table, but with us at the table.

“This thing has tremendous potential, in short order, to influence projects going forward.”

While McNeil said he’s not focused on existing projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the committee’s advice may be applied to such projects and have an indirect effect on operations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government replaced the National Energy Board with the new regulator in 2019 amid a number of battles with First Nations over pipelines. His government has also contended with long-standing concerns from investors that building natural resource projects is too difficult in Canada.

The Canada Energy Regulator Act aimed to clear the path forward for such projects by bringing Indigenous Peoples into the fold, requiring the regulator to create the advisory committee.

The committee is still in its early stages and recently met to endorse its terms of reference, which state its purpose is to transform the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the regulator.

McNeil said he sees a “huge difference” between the old energy board and the new organization.

“We had our battles with the NEB back in the day, but once I read the act, there was no fear,” he said. “I saw so much opportunity, so much potential, I couldn’t say no.”

He said when Indigenous people encountered problems in the past with natural resource companies, regulators and governments, it was often because “they have no idea who we are.”

“We’re all distinct. We’re all different,” he said. “We’re building the cultural competency at the CER as a whole.”

He noted the act also includes a commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which requires “free, prior and informed consent.” The committee will help the regulator build a new consultation model that factors in this requirement, which means engaging with communities at the earliest stages, McNeil said.

“I feel really strongly that’s going to compel companies to do a whole lot more work in advance so they have more confidence before they bring (projects forward),” he said.

Cassie Doyle, board chairwoman at the regulator, said the Indigenous committee will support systemic change in the organization and help it achieve its overall goal of reconciliation.

“This Indigenous advisory committee is unique in that it’s operating at a strategic level. We have already received very good advice (from it),” she said.

The regulator’s CEO, Gitane De Silva, said that advice has included, for example, how it should be transforming its approach to Indigenous oversight and monitoring of specific projects.

“While that’s not specific to a piece of infrastructure, that will help us form a policy that we use in all our interactions with regulated industry,” she said.

She added that the regulator is approaching this process “with humility.”

“We know we have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We very much welcome the advice of the committee and their individual members and we see it as a tremendous opportunity for the organization to be a much better regulator for all of Canada.”

Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

125-year-old Douglas Fir was cut down in Aldergrove. (Carleigh Johnston/Special to the Star)
Aldergrove residents voice their concerns on removal of long-standing trees

‘This loss of natural space is shattering to me and my students,’ Carleigh Johnston said

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Ryan’s Regards: Potato toy’s gender nearly starts World War Three

Censorship over children’s toys and books have become quite the topical conversation this month

Theatrix Youtheatre Society will be running their first program in the Langley-Aldergrove area this spring. (Special to The Star)
Young Aldergrove actors wanted for local theatre production

Kids age six to 11 can create a play from scratch through Theatrix Youtheatre Society in April

More childcare spaces are opening in Langley. (Black Press Media files)
Langley gets 144 new daycare spaces

Government funding is expanding childcare

Tako van Popta, MP for Langley-Aldergrove. (Tako van Popta/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley MP Tako van Popta to hold virtual town hall to discuss firearm legislation

A lot of my constituents have serious concerns about how Bill C-21 will affect them, van Popta says

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey man found guilty in murder of his wife in 2018

Rizig Bona’s next court date is today

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Citizens file B.C. Ombudsperson complaint against Hope Council in Station House fracas

Demolition contract has been awarded, completed by April 30

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Most Read