Which Nations support Kinder Morgan? Turns out, it’s a minority.

After two months of combing through reports from Kinder Morgan and the Canadian government and reaching out to communities, The Discourse, APTN and HuffPost Canada are sharing an updated Tracking Trans Mountain database.

The database documents where 140 First Nation bands and Indigenous groups along the Trans Mountain pipeline route stand on the contentious project. They were identified through consultation reports submitted by Kinder Morgan to the government.

Each First Nation band and Indigenous group is diverse, unique and the reasons behind their decisions and positions on the project are complicated. Here’s what we know right now:

Who has an agreement?

Kinder Morgan points to 43 signed mutual benefits agreements (MBAs) to show Indigenous support for the pipeline. The Tracking Trans Mountain data confirms that the following 41 nations have an agreement of some form:

  1. Alexander First Nation
  2. Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation
  3. Aseniwuche Winewak Nation of Canada
  4. Ashcroft Indian Band
  5. B.C. Métis Federation
  6. Canim Lake Band (Tsq’escen)
  7. Cheam First Nation
  8. Ditidaht First Nation
  9. Enoch Cree Nation
  10. Ermineskin Cree Nation
  11. Esquimalt Nation
  12. Foothills Ojibway Society
  13. Halalt First Nation
  14. Hwlitsum First Nation
  15. Kelly Lake Cree Nation
  16. Kwikwetlem First Nation
  17. Lake Cowichan First Nation
  18. Lower Nicola Indian Band (conditional agreement)
  19. Malahat First Nation
  20. Matsqui First Nation
  21. Métis Nation British Columbia
  22. Nakcowinewak Nation of Canada
  23. Nicomen Indian Band
  24. O’Chiese First Nation
  25. Pacheedaht First Nation
  26. Paul First Nation (Wabamun)
  27. Pauquachin First Nation
  28. Penelakut First Nation
  29. Peters First Nation
  30. Popkum Indian Band
  31. Samson Cree Nation
  32. Scia’new First Nation (Beecher Bay)
  33. Seabird Island Band
  34. Semiahmoo First Nation
  35. Shxw’ow’hamel First Nation
  36. Simpcw First Nation
  37. T’Sou-ke First Nation
  38. Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc (Kamloops Indian Band)
  39. Union Bar Indian Band
  40. Whispering Pines/ Clinton Indian Band
  41. Yale First Nation

The other two nations or groups counted by Kinder Morgan cannot be confirmed at this time — the company has not publicly stated which nations are among the 43 that they say have agreements with.

Our investigation found that, while other media have reported that Tzeachten First Nation has a signed an agreement, they did not. Chief Derek Epp says that the nation “has not consented to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.” In fact, Tzeachten is one of 14 First Nation bands or Indigenous groups involved in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s decision to approve the expansion.

Trans Mountain says the pipeline has been cleared by “First Nations communities whose Reserve lands we intend to cross,” which includes Tzeachten First Nation Reserve 13. Epp says Tzeachten First Nation families whose reserve land would be directly impacted by the expansion “made their own decisions about what was in the best interest for their lands and their families, given the fact that they already have one pipeline running through their lands” — referring to the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, in operation since 1953.

Epp says Tzeachten First Nation supported the land-holders’ decisions, but pointed to the expansion project’s broader implications for Aboriginal rights and title.

“The legal duty to meaningfully consult with Indigenous Peoples and accommodate impacts to Indigenous rights and title has not been fulfilled in this case,” says Epp.

The existing Trans Mountain pipeline crosses a river in Chilliwack, B.C., near Cheam First Nation. Lucy Scholey/APTN

The database also reveals that a signed agreement doesn’t necessarily equate to community support. The chiefs of Yale First Nation and Ditidaht First Nation both say they felt they had no choice but to sign on to the project. Representatives from Penelakut First Nation signed an agreement, but a natural resources advisor for the community says some environmental concerns have yet to be resolved.

On May 29, 2018, the Canadian government announced its plans to buy the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and infrastructure for the expansion for $4.5 billion. Ottawa says it will honour existing profit-sharing agreements struck between Kinder Morgan and Indigenous communities. Representatives from the Ministry of Finance could not confirm exactly how consultation and engagement will continue for communities without agreements — only that the project would “continue to follow all required National Energy Board conditions.”

A finance official also confirmed that the government’s agreement with Kinder Morgan includes a guarantee of financing to ensure construction of the pipeline is restarted this summer.

Who has a court challenge?

On March 9, 2017, the Federal Court of Appeal consolidated 16 separate applications challenging the project into one file for judicial review. Among the challenges were ten Indigenous-led cases involving 14 First Nation bands or Indigenous groups. Their arguments revolve around the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous communities’ constitutional rights when it comes to the Trans Mountain expansion.

Tsleil-Waututh member William George speaks at the ‘No Buyout, No Kinder Morgan’ rally in downtown Vancouver on May 29, 2018. Julia-Simone Rutgers/The Discourse 

Musqueam Indian Band, Kwantlen First Nation, Cheam First Nation, Chawathil First Nation and Kwaw’Kwaw’Apilt First Nation have since filed notices of discontinuance, withdrawing from the challenge.

Now, twelve First Nation bands and two Indigenous groups are involved in legal challenges against the project’s approval by the federal government and the National Energy Board’s consultation process. They are:

  1. Tsleil-Waututh Nation
  2. Squamish Nation
  3. Coldwater Indian Band
  4. Skwah First Nation
  5. Upper Nicola Band
  6. Aitchelitz First Nation
  7. Skowkale First Nation
  8. Shxwhá:y Village
  9. Soowahlie First Nation
  10. Squiala First Nation
  11. Yakweakwioose First Nation
  12. Tzeachten First Nation
  13. Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe Ltd.
  14. Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nation, a traditional governance group that includes members from the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc (Kamloops Indian Band) and Skeetchestn Indian Band

Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) represents the traditional governance of their territory, while Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and Skeetchestn are federally recognized bands. These two governance structures are distinct. While the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc band has a signed an agreement with Kinder Morgan, Chief Fred Seymour is also an applicant in the lawsuit challenging the project. He filed alongside Chief Ron Ignace of Skeetchestn Indian Band, in their capacity as members of SSN.

The consolidated case is still before the Federal Court of Appeal. If the court finds consultation between the federal government, National Energy Board, Trans Mountain and Indigenous communities was inadequate, and the project lacks consent, it could send the the project back to the consultation drawing board.

Who does not have an agreement?

With 41 agreements and 14 First Nation bands or Indigenous groups involved in legal challenges, our database finds the following 85 do not have agreements:

  1. Maa-Nulth First Nations
  2. Boothroyd Band
  3. Boston Bar First Nation
  4. Confederacy of Treaty 6 Nations
  5. Cook’s Ferry Indian Band
  6. Cowichan Nation Alliance/Cowichan Tribes
  7. Horse Lake First Nation
  8. Huu-ay-aht First Nations
  9. Kanaka Bar Indian Band (T’eqt’aqtn’mux)
  10. Katzie First Nation
  11. Kwantlen First Nation
  12. Leq’á:mel First Nation
  13. Lhtako Dené Nation
  14. Louis Bull Tribe
  15. Lower Similkameen Indian Band
  16. Michel First Nation
  17. Nooaitch Indian Band
  18. Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council
  19. Okanagan Indian Band
  20. Oregon Jack Creek Band
  21. People of the River Referral Office
  22. Saddle Lake Cree Nation
  23. Scowlitz (Sq’éwlets) First Nation
  24. Sencot’en Alliance
  25. Siska Indian Band
  26. Skawahlook First Nation
  27. Skeetchestn Indian Band
  28. Skuppah Indian Band
  29. Snaw’Naw’As (Nanoose) First Nation
  30. Snuneymuxw (Nanaimo) First Nation
  31. Songhees First Nation
  32. Spuzzum First Nation
  33. Bonaparte Indian Band (St’uxwtews)
  34. Stoney Nakoda First Nation
  35. Sts’ailes Band (Chehalis)
  36. Sumas First Nation
  37. Sunchild First Nation
  38. Williams Lake Indian Band (T’éxel’c)
  39. Toosey (Tl’esqox) Indian Band
  40. Tsuu T’ina Nation
  41. Upper Athabasca Valley Elders Council
  42. Upper Similkameen Indian Band
  43. Whitefish Lake First Nation #128
  44. Shuswap Indian Band
  45. Splatsín First Nation
  46. Soda Creek Band (Xats’ull/Cmetem)
  47. Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek & Dog Creek)
  48. Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band
  49. Chawathil First Nation
  50. Kelly Lake First Nation
  51. Kelly Lake Métis Settlement Society
  52. Ktunaxa Nation
  53. Lyackson First Nation
  54. Lytton First Nation
  55. Métis Nation of Alberta Gunn Métis Local #55
  56. Neskonlith Indian Band
  57. Nicola Tribal Association
  58. Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council
  59. Okanagan Nation Alliance
  60. Qayqayt First Nation (New Westminster)
  61. Rocky Mountain Cree
  62. Shuswap Nation Tribal Council
  63. Sto:lo Nation
  64. Sto:lo Tribal Council
  65. Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation
  66. Stz’uminus First Nation (Chemainus)
  67. Sucker Creek First Nation
  68. Treaty 8 Nations of Alberta
  69. Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation (Pavilion Indian Band)
  70. Tsawout First Nation
  71. Tsawwassen First Nation
  72. Tseycum First Nation
  73. Tŝilhqot’in National Government
  74. Tsartlip First Nation
  75. Asini Wachi Nehiyawak (Mountain Cree)
  76. Shackan Indian Band
  77. Sechelt Indian Government District (shíshálh)
  78. Akamihk Montana First Nation #139
  79. High Bar First Nation
  80. Adams Lake Indian Band
  81. Penticton Indian Band
  82. Kwaw’Kwaw’Apilt First Nation
  83. Lheidli T’enneh First Nation
  84. Musqueam Indian Band
  85. Métis Nation of Alberta Regional Council IV

The communities without agreements range in position from opposed to the project — often due to concerns about the environment and lack of meaningful consultation — to communities who have chosen not to engage with the company at all. Some communities are engaging with the project through employment opportunities, but haven’t signed agreements.

If you have questions or information to add, please let us know through this survey. Share your stories using the hashtag #TrackingTransMountain and let’s talk.

 – This research was published in The Discourse, who together with APTN and HuffPost Canada released new Trans Mountain data discovered in joint investigative project. –

Editor’s note, July 4, 2018: This story was updated to indicate that Lower Nicola Indian Band’s agreement is conditional. 

This piece was edited by Lindsay Sample with fact-checking and copy editing by Jonathan von Ofenheim. It was produced as part of #TrackingTransMountain, a collaborative reporting project from The DiscourseAPTN, and HuffPost Canada that aims to deepen the reporting on Indigenous communities affected by the Trans Mountain expansion project.  

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