BC Oil and Gas Commission Commissioner & Chief Executive Officer Paul Jeakins with Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross.

BC Oil and Gas Commission Commissioner & Chief Executive Officer Paul Jeakins with Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross.

The Haisla Nation and the BC Oil and Gas Commission today announced the launch of the Haisla Nation Natural Resource Sector (NRS) Aboriginal Liaison Program to support greater awareness of the oil and gas industry amongst First Nations communities.

“This liaison program gives the Haisla a stronger hand in seeing to it that any project developed in our territory is done so responsibly,” said Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross. “By having Haisla people out in the field, we can ensure that proponents live up to their word in developing industries that respect the land and our communities.”

The Commission established the First Nations Liaison Program as a means to support greater First Nations community awareness of oil and gas planning, development, safety, environmental and emergency management, restoration activities, and compliance management. The liaison program provides knowledgeable, trained and properly equipped people for First Nations communities.

A pilot program was successfully initiated in May 2014, in partnership with the Doig River First Nation in northeast British Columbia. The Commission is currently working to see if similar agreements can be arranged with other First Nations.

“The liaison program represents a new and innovative way of overseeing responsible development on the land base – and particularly LNG and associated pipeline developments,” said Paul Jeakins, Commissioner and CEO of the BC Oil and Gas Commission. “It creates an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship between the Haisla and the Commission and ensures the Haisla Nation will have the opportunity to participate in monitoring of land-based disturbances as construction proceeds – and continues the partnership established during the application review.”

In January, the Commission issued an industry bulletin that advises operators that liaisons are actively working in their traditional territory and that this role may include field activities related to disturbance monitoring and reclamation, compliance and enforcement, and emergency response. They are firm points of contact with the community and have strengthened positive working relationships between the Commission, First Nations staff, and the community.

Similar to what is in place with the Doig, the Haisla Nation NRS liaisons will be identified by the Commission’s and Haisla’s NRS Liaison Program decals on the sides of their trucks.

Programs such as this are made possible through a joint effort of many partners including the BC Oil and Gas Commission; Environmental Assessment Office; Conservation Officer Service; and all of the ministries representing the natural resource sector in B.C.: Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation; Ministry of Natural Gas Development; Ministry of Energy and Mines; Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations; and Ministry of Environment.