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Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for the invitation to introduce today’s workshop on Northern energy corridors.
Corridors — including pipelines, railways, highways, waterways, fibre optic infrastructure, transmission lines and deep-water ports — will play an important role in realizing our North’s resource and economic potential.
Like so many pivotal moments in our territory’s history, we are addressing this reality with a comparative blank slate. But, just like it did for the explorers and leaders of our past, this comes with the opportunity to shape our future with the trademark ingenuity and resilience that we describe as our northern spirit.
We know that to achieve the long-held dream of resource and economic development for North, Aboriginal people, in particular, must benefit - not just from training and jobs but as full partners, investors and owners.
In the oil and gas sector, we have an example in the Aboriginal Pipeline Group of how Aboriginal people could play a full role in energy infrastructure projects. In their project, we have a fully-permitted, approved, and charted route through the Mackenzie Valley.
It complements the Mackenzie River’s defined, navigable waterway for transportation and infrastructure projects which, together, make the Valley a natural corridor with the potential to move resources to international markets.
In our vision, this corridor will include an all-season road stretching from our southern border through the petroleum-rich lands of the Sahtu to the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea. Along the way a fibre-optic line will provide high-speed internet for communities and industry, including a growing centre for satellite communications at Inuvik; and a deep water port on the Arctic Coast.
We are currently laying the fibre line, and the next leg of the highway extension from Norman Wells to Canyon Creek has been approved.
But, we must face the fact that Northern oil and gas and energy transportation infrastructure projects have, for the most part, not been built yet.
That’s what this workshop is about: harnessing the skills, experience, creativity and passion in this room to find bold new ways to move forward with developing Northern resources and corridors.
Because when we work together, we succeed together, in unlocking our Northern potential.
I look forward to seeing what comes of this exchange of ideas.