Carry the Kettle Naked Nation Chief Brady O’Watch states, “In our view, these old, outdated pipelines place our community members at an unacceptable level of risk, and nothing has been done to bring them up to a more up to date standard that is acceptable to our people. No one in the industry or government ever informed us or considered these risks when they were approved and built. Based on the outcome of our research and review which is being conducted, if our people decide they need to go, the CTKN as an Indigenous Government, will invoke our laws and jurisdiction and take the appropriate action as we have done in the case of Abbey.”
The Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation (CTK) has served notice on and evicted natural gas operator, Abbey Resources Corporation, from its reserve lands.
The issue arose as the company was no longer able to live up its obligations to the Carry the Kettle People and obligations to safeguard and function as a suitable steward for Carry the Kettle Lands.
Abbey Resources Corp is a natural gas company that extracts natural gas on Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation’s reserve lands. As a condition of operating on reserve, Abbey Resources Corp is required to make rental and royalty payments to Indian Oil and Gas Canada, which are then distributed to Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation, as well as property tax payments directly to Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation. Abbey Resources has been in default on its obligations to Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation for years. The Nation is seeking to recover what is owed and remove them from the reserve lands.
Abbey Resources Corp applied for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act provides companies with temporary relief from enforcement by their creditors while a plan is developed to restructure the business to enable it to continue as a going concern. There are numerous other creditors of Abbey Resources Corp, primarily rural municipalities, and the Government of Saskatchewan. On August 13, 2021, the Court granted creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. Further extensions to this order have been granted and Abbey Resources remains under the protection of the order.
At the time Abbey Resources Corp obtained creditor protection, there were outstanding rental arrears which amount to $89,917.46 owing to Indian Oil and Gas Canada. There were outstanding royalties owing which amount to $81,526.89 owing to Indian Oil and Gas Canada. There were also outstanding property taxes owing of $334,205.62 plus interest owing to Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation. There continues to be an outstanding legal dispute between Abbey Resources Corp and Indian Oil and Gas Canada regarding whether some of the royalties must be paid notwithstanding the court order made under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. These amounts cannot be enforced against Abbey Resources while the court order remains in effect. Eventually Abbey Resources will have to make a proposal to address these arrears, as well as arrears to other creditors, and that proposal would be voted on by the creditors, including Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation.
Abbey Resources Corp has proposed amending its lease agreements to dramatically reduce its monetary obligations to Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation going forward. Chief and Council rejected this proposal. Originally, Abbey Resources Corp had advised that they intended to surrender their interest in the reserve lands based on the ongoing costs to operate. However, recently Abbey Resources Corp expressed uncertainty as to their intentions going forward.
Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation is committed to ensuring that Abbey Resources pay its fair share to the Nation for operating on reserve and will continue to monitor the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act proceedings and press for payment of the amounts owed. Companies that fail to honour their obligations to the Nation are not welcome and have no place operating on Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation’s lands.
The eviction notice was served in late November 2021. Chief Brady O’Watch states:
“Our Traditional Lands throughout southern Saskatchewan have been overrun by irresponsible and destructive levels of development. The only small parcels of land which our people have left to them, is our reserve land base and our People will no longer allow corporations to occupy our remaining lands while they do not honor their commitments to take care of the land and our people’s rights, needs and interests in those lands. Our people are not opposed to development or supporting Canadians’ needs for energy, but the companies situated on our reserve lands must act carefully and responsibly. Up to 6 natural gas, 1 Propane line and one oil pipeline occupies and traverses our reserve. Many of these pipelines are decades old and there is no way that anyone can claim that these are safe, state of the art pieces of oil and gas infrastructure. It is clear, based on government issued safety data, that there are greater levels of incidences of leaks, ruptures and serious fires and explosion incidents associated with aging high pressure natural gas and oil transmission pipelines”.
The CTK is now working with community Elders, youth, and community members to look at other assets and corporate interests situated on its reserve lands to determine the overall level of risk posed to community health and safety, ecological liabilities associated with the presence of oil and gas infrastructure and the of social good and consequences arising from the ongoing presence of the oil and gas industry.
The issue that the CTK has encountered with Abbey is not an isolated one. For example, the main CTK reserve plays host to one of Canada’s most strategic oil and gas / energy corridors which flows natural gas and oil from western fields to the eastern provinces and the US. As recently as 2016, oil and gas shippers were considering an eastern access pipeline that would have involved the repurposing of one of the existing natural gas lines to oil service which would have taken oil from Alberta’s oil producing areas to New Brunswick for shipping.
The energy corridor bisects the CTK’s main reserve and community and is near community member homes and family areas.