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Red Pheasant Chief Larry Wuttunee believes the agreement with Wascana is promising. He is enthusiastic about the opportunities it will provide Red Pheasant."Such agreements are a fundamental part of First Nation self-determination. The Treaty Land Entitlement reserve creation decision path is economic in nature. oil and gas potential is a relevant factor. By making such an agreement prior to reserve creation, Red Pheasant is securing a business partner to do oil and gas development on otherwise undeveloped lands," he said.
"Such an agreement is proof that First Nations can be full partners in a business relationship. Red Pheasant is taking a leadership role in this area."
Graeme Phipps, Vice-President Exploration & Production of Wascana Energy Inc. said of the signing, "We are proud of our reputation for taking new and creative approaches to structuring business agreements with First Nations in western Canada. We find that First Nations leaders want to participate fully in the risks and rewards of the development of their oil and gas resources. The agreement we are signing today with Red Pheasant First Nation satisfies those aspirations."
Red Pheasant is one of 28 Saskatchewan First Nations who entered into a Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement with the federal and provincial governments. The terms of this agreement have the Red Pheasant First Nation receiving approximately $19 million over a 12-year period. With this money, the Band will purchase up to 72,000 acres of land in the province to convert to reserve status. The First Nation has now purchased almost 32,000 acres.
Harry Nicotine, Red Pheasant TLE Coordinator, says that 8,000 acres of this land is expected to become reserve status by first quarter of 1998. "That is our objective," he says. "We're really trying to speed things up."
Under the terms of the agreement, Wascana Energy will gain access this land, located in west central Saskatchewan. It is located next to Beacon Hill and Makwa Lake, existing natural gas fields of Wascana Energy. The company plans to shoot seismic early in 1998. Drilling is expected to begin later in the year.
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Although this has not been formally discussed, Nicotine says, "Wascana is aware of our objectives and plans." He says that the Band intends to make these arrangements part of the intermediary and long-range strategies.
While the work is on-going, the partnership clearly indicates the beginnings of a successful and profitable business relationship between the Red Pheasant First Nation and Wascana Energy.