ARCHIVED - Investing in the Future - The Onion Lake Cree Nation Story

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The settlement of a specific land claim has set the stage for Onion Lake Cree Nation to be an active participant in natural resource development. Learn how the First Nation is using the economic benefits to plan for the future.

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Transcript: Investing in the Future - The Onion Lake Cree Nation Story

Narrator

The Onion Lake Cree Nation is experiencing an economic boom as it takes on the responsible development of oil and gas throughout its territory.

Compensation stemming from a Treaty Land Entitlement settlement has translated into joint ventures with private energy partners and allowed exploration and development on about 140,000 acres of existing and new treaty land.

The Onion lake Cree Nation reserve straddles the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster.

Wallace Fox - Chief Onion Lake Cree Nation

The Onion Lake Cree Nation has a membership of approximately 5500 people.  There's approximately 3000 people living on the reserve.

Narrator

In 1994, the Onion Lake Cree Nation and the Government of Canada successfully negotiated a Treaty Land Entitlement Specific Claim… furthering Canada's commitment to resolve Aboriginal land claims under historic agreements and fulfilling its obligations under Treaty 6.

These negotiated settlements right past wrongs, honor legal obligations and allow all parties to move forward on a new footing.

Elliot Dillon – Director Lands and Resources Onion Lake Cree Nation

You've got to be able to take your revenues and help the community.

Darrell Carter – Former Band Councillor

We received approximately 30 million dollars is what it was.  And that came with a certain amount of acres that you could buy.

Julie Whitstone –Treaty Land Entitlement Trustee

One of the elders had mentioned that…in a meeting…we were sitting on a gold mine.

Darrell Carter – Former Band Councillor

We settled on purchasing a huge tract of land north of Onion Lake which was a major oil and gas play.  When the land turned to reserve, the minerals came with it.

Elliot Dillon – Director Lands and Resources Onion Lake Cree Nation

We created the Onion Lake Energy Oil Company that partnered up with the Black Pearls and Fogels.

Kevin Golem – Operations Manager, Black Pearl Resources

The Onion Lake/Black Pearl relationship began in 2009.  We have approximately 120 producing oil wells right now with about 6000 barrels a day being produced.

Jeff Ross – CEO, Onion Lake Cree Nation Business Development Corporation

A lot of the resource companies have come to the First Nations and they want to develop the resource on their land.  But there was no really active involvement.  You know, we were more passive participants.  But today at Onion Lake, we want to be active participants.

Sound up: receptionist: "Good Morning BDC"

Elliot Dillon – Director Lands and Resources Onion Lake Cree Nation

We've decided to invest in businesses.

Julie Whitstone – Treaty Land Entitlement Trustee

Because we knew TLE wouldn't…wasn't going to be a forever money.

Kevin Golem – Operations Manager, Black Pearl Resources

We really see the development in the service providers…where the service, the amount of people, and I would imagine the revenue has grown exponentially since '09.

Jeff Ross – CEO, Onion Lake Cree Nation Business Development Corporation

Onion Lake Enterprises is our oldest company, and it provides janitorial services to the nation.

Askiy Apoy Hauling … it does all the fluid hauling.  It also provides the vac pressure truck sevices for the three oil companies at Onion Lake.

Beretta Pipeline Construction…we do lease development.  We do road maintenance…road construction. 

We've moved from roughly a 35 million dollar company to a 60 million dollar business development corporation.  By creating wealth for the nation it allows the nation to assist the community through infrastructure development. 

Elliot Dillon – Director Lands and Resources Onion Lake Cree Nation

We've developed a heritage park.  That's our cultural centre, eh?  All our gatherings happen there…all our cultural events.

Wallace Fox - Chief Onion Lake Cree Nation

When you look at the Cree Immersion Program for example…the elders said "teach the Cree to our young people".   That is the future.  This has always been the vision…education…training…employment.  Reinvest back in our people.

Narrator

A successful claim settlement provides greater certainty and clarity about ownership and management of land and resources, for the benefit of all Canadians, and allows the First Nation to move forward.

Jeff Ross – CEO, Onion Lake Cree Nation Business Development Corporation

You know, in a way Onion Lake is helping itself, but we're also helping communities around Onion Lake.  In the end, everybody benefits from what we're doing at Onion Lake.

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