indicatorGrowth Management

Helping Indigenous communities reach new heights

By 24 March 2023 1 min read

An ATB team member and member of the Athabasca Indigenous Investments team work on Project Rocket

On September 23, diverse Indigenous communities – including the Cree, Dene, and Metis people – came together under the umbrella of Athabasca Indigenous Investments to finalize a billion dollar agreement. Code named Project Rocket, the community made the deal with Enbridge, Canada’s largest energy infrastructure company.

Together, the collective First Nations and Metis communities in Northern Alberta purchased a 11.57% stake in seven Enbridge pipelines for $1.12B. Hailed as the largest of its kind in North America, this agreement “should become a template for Indigenous ownership in other major developments in Canada.”

These seven pipelines transport critical energy resources from traditional lands to global markets. Combined, they transport about 45 percent of Canada’s oil sands production to hubs in Edmonton and Hardisty.

This investment provides Indigenous peoples with a direct stake in, and stewardship of, significant energy resources. It’s also created an opportunity for economic prosperity now and for future generations.

ATB was pleased to play a role in the historic partnership with financial solutions, expert advice, and allyship. Our ATB Capital Markets team helped to structure the commercial partnership while providing advisory services to the Indigenous communities. Through an AIOC program, ATB secured the $250 million loan that allowed these communities to make the partnership a reality.

Many teams across ATB, including Project Finance, Treasury, Indigenous Relations, Capital Solutions, and our deal, credit and risk teams worked together to make it all possible. Creative structuring and flexible access to capital was required for a project of this size and magnitude.

An equity stake in the pipelines will bring significant benefits to the communities for years to come. Each community has a defined ownership stake, which means a steady and ongoing stream of approximately $150,000-$300,000 revenue every year. These funds can be directed to education, infrastructure and housing, or other investments to enhance and improve quality of life.

Ensuring Indigenous communities have a seat at the energy stakeholder table for consultation and engagement is an important step towards financial reconciliation. The partnership also creates a template for Indigenous ownership that can be followed for future opportunities, such as renewable, carbon capture, hydrogen, natural gas, or other major Canadian projects.


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