Canada is a trading nation.

Exports are primarily responsible for Canada’s wealth. Without the level of exports that we currently have, our economy would be significantly different.

To help the economy survive, the federal government has incurred significant debt in the form of fiscal deficits related to the pandemic. One of the most effective ways to meet these higher interest costs and eventually repay the country’s debts is to expand our exports.

Proposal for the National Infrastructure Assessment

The NeeStaNan corporation (NeeStaNan) is pleased to present the following essay and related videos on a proposed infrastructure project that will be of significant benefit to Canada, the federal government, the provinces, First Nations and Metis Settlements.

The Engagement Paper on the National Infrastructure Assessment, “Building the Canada We Want in 2050” prepared by the Minister of the Office of Infrastructure of Canada, 2021, requested comments in three specific areas:

  • Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of Canada,

  • How to Improve Coordination

  • How Best to Fund Infrastructure? (can’t afford not to!)

The NeeStaNan Partnership has been working on a northern utility corridor (NeeStaNan Utility Corridor) which addresses each of these specific areas. Over the last few years, NeeStaNan (“All of Us” or “US Too” in Cree) has prepared several short videos that are particularly informative and address the three main points of the Minister’s request. Included in this essay are links to these videos which should be viewed as they illustrate the main points and advantages of the NeeStaNan proposal.


The University of Calgary School of Public Policy has written extensively on the advantage of a cross Canada corridor that connects the Pacific Coast, the Arctic coast and eastern Canada. They envision a multi-modal corridor stretching from Prince Rupert on the Pacific Coast through to Hudson Bay, and continuing to eastern Canada with branch lines north to tie in the Yukon and the Territories. The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor fits as part of this vision. See Figure 1.

December 2, 2020, The Canadian Northern Corridor: Planning for National Prosperity

The Canadian Northern Corridor Research Program at The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary is the leading platform for providing information and analysis necessary to establish the feasibility and desirability of a network of multi-modal rights-of-way across middle and northern Canada. Endorsed by the Senate of Canada, this work responds to the Council of the Federation’s July 2019 call for informed discussion of pan-Canadian economic corridors as a key input to strengthening growth across Canada and “a strong, sustainable and environmentally responsible economy.” This Research Program will help all Canadians benefit from improved infrastructure development in Canada.


                                                                Figure 1


Stronger economic outcomes

The CNC would facilitate access to lower costs to transport and export goods; job creation through infrastructure development; decreased cost of living and enhanced access to goods and services; and increased investment attraction due to certainty in regulatory systems.

Strengthen Canada’s position in the global economy

The Northern Corridor would support greater access to international export markets, leverage to negotiate contracts, and ability to switch markets based on global demand shifts. It would also improve project economics, thereby facilitating the viability of more development in diversified industries. Lastly, it will support infrastructure development in Canada’s north, helping secure Canada’s sovereignty.

Environmental protection

By having a dedicated right-of-way, land disturbance would be reduced. Additionally, this right-of-way would allow for centralized and integrated monitoring of environmental impact, enhancing data collection, emergency response, and adaptive management.

Improved standard of living for northern Canadians

The CNC would enhance access to physical and social infrastructure, including better access to health care, clean drinking water and internet. It would also support access to goods currently only accessible by winter roads, which are becoming less predictable and have shorter seasons due to climate change. Lastly, the CNC would result in improved connectivity for rural and remote northern Canadians.

Advancing reconciliation

Quality of life for Indigenous communities would improve due to increased access to health services and infrastructure, clean water, critical infrastructure, connectivity, and economic development opportunities. A single right-of-way would have fewer land infringements and disruptions and would facilitate Indigenous participation in the project governance structure.

The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor like the CNC is multi-modal, designed to accommodate roads, rail lines, communication facilities (fibre optic cables), pipelines and power lines It will access the resource rich and relatively undeveloped areas of the country. It will traverse primarily Crown lands, reserves, and traditional territories of the First Nations and Metis Settlements of northern Canada. The indigenous people, who comprise most of the people affected directly by such a corridor, would benefit from economic development, improved access for health care and education, training, employment and the economic development and business opportunities that such a corridor would bring.

Conceptually the northern corridor can be considered a “ring road” around a congested southern Canada where it has become difficult approve and construct linear infrastructure. With significant indigenous ownership the NeeStaNan corridor has been conceptualized with Indigenous groups to solve many of the existing problems and obstacles that have hindered recent projects.

The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor is the type of project that we can envision for Canada to enjoy well before 2050. The first two phases of the NeeStaNan proposal are individually viable and just the first two phases of the CNC.

Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of Canada

Canada is a trading nation. Canada has an abundance of natural resources. Canada has tremendous agricultural capacity to help feed the world. Canada's manufacturing industries are integrated with the rest of North America in cross border trade and are tied to international supply chains. While the Infrastructure for Canada to trade with the United States of America is relatively good, Canada has found itself disadvantaged by not having trading alternatives outside of the United States. In some cases, these disadvantages make it difficult to supply other Canadians.


Some other products that could use NeeStaNan Utility Corridor:

  • Metallurgical coal

  • Agricultural products - wheat, pulses, canola, other grains

  • Potash

  • Minerals

  • Electricity

All these products require linear infrastructure to reach export points. Most of these products are produced in areas distant from the major population centres of this country. Their route to an export point is normally by truck, rail, or pipeline to Canada’s southern border or to a port on tidewater in a metropolitan area.

A visit to Vancouver at anytime of the year can illustrate one of Canada’s major problems, inadequate port capacity. It is not uncommon to see a dozen or more ships anchored in English Bay waiting to access the port of Vancouver. The result is demurrage charges, shipping delays and additional costs. Rail capacity in and out of the port is also constricted because of the urban environment.

The railways in Canada are also subject to a shortage of locomotives, cars, congestion, labour disruptions, and protests by activists which result in delays and increased costs.

Petroleum, crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids and petroleum products are transported most efficiently and safely by pipelines. The recent difficulty in obtaining approvals for and constructing pipelines from the major producing areas (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) have forced producers to curtail production, defer expansion plans and transfer production to rail or road transport rather than pipelines.

Historically Canada’s crude oil, exported primarily to the United States by rail or pipeline, has been sold at a significant discount to international and US domestic prices. There have been years in which the discount to the USA price has totaled greater than the cost of the NeeStaNan Utility Corridor to access other markets. Continuing difficulties with export pipelines, and proposed changes in pipeline access could further restrict Canada’s production and depress prices.  As noted above, these exports represent a significant portion of Canada’s export earnings needed to balance the cost of imports and are a significant factor in the maintenance of Canada’s social system and standard of living.

The NeeStaNan proposal includes an export/import terminal on the western shore of Hudson Bay to provide additional capacity close to the Prairie provinces. A 115 kilometre extension of an existing rail line to the coast will provide additional rail capacity to tide water. The reduced distance and transport time compared to the Pacific Coast, or to the Atlantic will result in a doubling or tripling of the capacity of existing rail equipment.

The Nelson River, which drains a significant portion of the Prairie provinces, has extensive hydro generating capacity. As envisioned the corridor would accommodate transmission of hydropower through Manitoba to Saskatchewan and Alberta to replace coal and other fossil fuel fired electrical generation and provide the oil sands of Alberta and Saskatchewan with clean hydropower. This would have the effect of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of Saskatchewan and Alberta, which currently represents a significant portion of Canada's GHG emissions.

Green Hydrogen is a natural to be produced with excess hydroelectricity and then transported to markets via the NeeStaNan Utility Corridor.

The NeeStaNan corridor concept would connect Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba to a new import/export port on Hudson Bay by rail, road, pipeline, power lines, and communication facilities. The NeeStaNan corridor is a feasible first step of the CNC and is viable as a stand-alone project owned and championed by Indigenous people.

In summary, Canada requires additional linear infrastructure in the form of highways, rail lines, electrical lines, and pipelines. The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor proposal is the beginning of a viable solution.

Improve coordination of planning, approval, and construction of infrastructure.

Canada's ability to construct linear infrastructure has met extreme difficulties in the last few years. The Northern Gateway Project was cancelled based on a political decision about the adequacy of consultation with First Nations. The Keystone XL project, after a decade of studies, applications, and approvals, was cancelled based on perceived environmental effects and American internal politics. The Trans Mountain expansion of an existing pipeline was finally approved and is being constructed only after the private sector owner sold to the federal government. Export pipelines through the US, Line 3, and Line 5, due for upgrade or replacement are encountering legal difficulties. Canada's railways were blockaded by activists protesting the construction of an approved natural gas pipeline through the traditional territories of a British Columbia First Nation. A common theme in all these difficulties is objections by or for First Nations or their members. The NeeStaNan utility corridor has a bottom-up approach starting with Indigenous ownership.

The normal process for linear infrastructure seems to be a design and planning process that leaves affected parties, primarily First Nations and other Indigenous groups out the process. Consultation is to happen after planning, routing and project design are completed. This is “putting the cart before the horse”. The affected Indigenous groups are then offered limited participation and incentives to support the project, but control remains with the proponents of the project.

With NeeStaNan, Indigenous groups are encouraged to provide land for the utility corridor Right of Way (“ROW”). This can be accomplished with Treaty Land Entitlements, direct grants, or purchases of crown land from the provinces or individuals, reserve land, or fee simple grants of traditional territories. The goal is to have Indigenous groups own more than 90% of the ROW in fee simple and as such have control of the ROW. As owners, the Indigenous groups, acting as partners could essentially offer participating companies an approved project with social, economic, and environmental terms that work for the indigenous communities.

The best aid program for disadvantaged groups, both in Canada and internationally is economic development. The ancient wisdom of “give a man a fish and he feeds his family for a day, teach a man to fish and he feeds his family for a lifetime” can be translated today into “give someone some money, and he or she can feed their family for a day or a week, give someone training, an education, a meaningful job, a career and/or a business opportunity, and they will feed their family and the community for a lifetime”. This is the NeeStaNan philosophy.

Tom Flanagan, in his 2019 publication “Wealth of First Nations" examined some of Canada’s First Nations, attempting to determine what made some Nations highly successful and others not so much. Factors such as governance, land management, private ownership, economic opportunities, and development were examined. One factor that seemed to override the others in determining the current success of the individual First Nations was location. Those First Nations located adjacent to or near populated areas (towns or cities) did much better than remote communities. This proximity allowed better education and employment opportunities, but more important, offered better opportunities for business and economic development and as a result they did much better than remote communities.

The NeeStaNan corridor would accommodate power lines to transmit clean hydropower to replace diesel, coal or natural gas power generation, provide a right of way for road access which would reduce the cost of food and other goods, allow rail access, accommodate improved communication such as high-speed internet for education, safety, and tele-medicine, and facilitate employment and economic development opportunities for peoples in the area, particularly the youth.

The Best Way to Fund Infrastructure

The Engagement Paper on the National Infrastructure Assessment discusses climate change, green energy, clean water, waste management, recycling of plastics, clean energy, high speed broadband, and digital infrastructure - all nice things to have. The paper also discusses public transit, cycling paths, electric vehicles and other issues that are designed specifically for city dwellers.

Northern communities need housing, clean water roads, railways, bridges and ports, things southern Canadians have had and have taken for granted for over 100 years. Canada should manage the basics for northern indigenous communities first.

After some initial funding from the government to support the basic concept planning and preliminary work to establish the right of way, the corridor would be on a user pay basis and be a net contributor to provincial and federal government coffers. The First Nations could then afford and would assume more responsibility for community development and implementation of services for their basic needs.

Minister McKenna states that the government “has committed to more than $180 billion in infrastructure available”. The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor will create economic opportunities and improve prices of products. There are large infrastructure funds around the world looking for projects like this. Some of them do not believe Canada is capable of accommodating or approving large projects. Indigenous ownership will change that belief and non-Canadian government funds will be available.


How about a utility corridor through northern Canada from the Pacific (Prince Rupert) to Hudson Bay (Port Nelson) and on through the Ring of Fire in Ontario where they need roads, rail, and power lines, to northern Quebec on to Labrador (Muskrat Falls) with a spur to St. John, NB and/or Halifax, NS and additional spurs up to the Arctic and the Territories? This would bring the basics to otherwise isolated communities in the north, basics which include electricity, broadband, roads, railroads, bridges, year-round access, access to export and import ports for minerals, lumber, petroleum products and imported goods. In short economic development.

The corridor could also be the foundation of a national Canadian electrical grid, something that could be critical to the electrification of the economy.

The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor is an infrastructure project Canada cannot afford to defer. Not just because it is Indigenous driven and not just because it will lower Canada’s GHG emissions, options export, but also because the return of capital, control of destiny and sovereignty of the north are all important to the future of Canada. Please be sure to review the attached videos.

NeeStaNan Utility Corridor Proponents,

Sandford Gauchier 1-780-523-1079

Mike Lawrenchuk 1-204-227-4855

Robyn Lore 403-803-3017

Please find videos about the NeeStaNan Utility Corridor Project below:


The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor Introduction Video




Please find videos about the NeeStaNan Utility Corridor Project below:


The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor Introduction Video






The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor "Overview" Video






The NeeStaNan Utility Corridor "Giving Back" Video (Interviews)




 Excerpts from U of C School of Public Policy Papers

December 2, 2020, The Canadian Northern Corridor: Planning for National Prosperity

The Canadian Northern Corridor Research Program at The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary is the leading platform for providing information and analysis necessary to establish the feasibility and desirability of a network of multi-modal rights-of-way across middle and northern Canada. Endorsed by the Senate of Canada, this work responds to the Council of the Federation’s July 2019 call for informed discussion of pan-Canadian economic corridors as a key input to strengthening growth across Canada and “a strong, sustainable and environmentally responsible economy.” This Research Program will help all Canadians benefit from improved infrastructure development in Canada.


November 4, 2020, Climate Change and Implications for the Proposed Canadian Northern Corridor

As temperature and precipitation patterns have changed, the cryosphere has been impacted. Sea-ice extent and thickness have decreased in Northern Canada (Derksen et al. 2018). Under all emissions scenarios, reductions to sea-ice cover is expected to continue (Mudryk et al. 2018). Snow cover and accumulation, particularly in the fall and spring, have decreased across Canada, particularly in Northern Canada, and this trend is “virtually certain” to continue (Derksen et al. 2018). Permafrost temperatures have increased as well, resulting in permafrost thaw in some areas (Romanovsky et al. 2017). Under all emissions scenarios, air temperatures over permafrost areas are expected to increase, which is expected to result in the continued warming of permafrost across Northern Canada and the thawing of large areas by mid-century (Derksen et al. 2018). Glaciers and ice caps are losing mass at an accelerating rate, which is expected to continue and, along with reduced snow accumulation, begin to impact streamflow and water resources in some northern areas (Clarke et al. 2015).


From The Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Nee Sta Nan Energy Corridor is Win Win Win

CommentaryEnergyJoseph QuesnelPeter Holle May 18, 2021

Canada’s energy security is top of the news this week with the threatened closure of Line 5, a cross-border Canadian oil pipeline that has been operating since the 1950s. It supplies nearly half of the Ontario and Quebec market for light crude oil, light synthetic crude oil and natural gas. Michigan’s state governor is trying to shut down Enbridge’s existing pipeline, and an associated $500-million tunnel project upgrade, to fight global warming and protect the environment. If she succeeds, the closure would lead to huge job losses and economic disruptions on both sides of the border.

Quebec and Ontario should not place much hope that the climate-woke Biden Administration will fix this. President Biden’s first act in office was to cancel the almost completed cross-border Keystone XL pipeline project. Fully cognizant that Quebec and Ontario are the Trudeau Government’s electoral heartland, the federal government has intervened in hopes that the impasse can be broken and Line 5 will continue. Ironically, Trudeau government’s policy choices over the last several years have been to land-lock western Canada’s oil and gas resources.

Alberta and Saskatchewan producers continue to experience tremendous difficulty in transporting western oil. Quebec vetoed the proposed Energy East pipeline, and Trudeau’s federal government blocked access to Pacific tidewater by cancelling the Northern Gateway pipeline.

These actions have turned Canada into a captive supplier for American markets, with producers forced to accept heavily discounted rates – reducing both the energy industry’s revenues and federal and provincial tax revenues. And, the inability to transport oil and gas through pipelines by pipeline does not cut production, it just shifts them to environmentally-riskier rail and truck transport.

Fortunately, against this overall comparative policy ‘clown show’, there is another option to advance the West’s valid economic interests of accessing both higher valued markets and more tax revenue. A new Manitoba-focused proposal would have a minimal environmental impact, while providing significant opportunities to Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba. It’s called the Nee Sta Nan utility corridor project ( and it envisions a pipeline running from Alberta to a new Port Nelson seaport on Hudson Bay. The corridor would connect western oil through a much shorter shipping route to international markets in Europe, while simultaneously creating a path westward for Manitoba’s surplus hydroelectric energy to reach Alberta and Saskatchewan’s grids.

Manitoba-based reliable hydroelectric power would replace the current emission-intensive coal and natural gas fired power generation of the Alberta Oil Sands region. It would enable Manitoba Hydro to sell surplus power from the prematurely-built Keeyask dam at decent rates, rather than selling into American markets at bargain basement prices.

The proposed Nee Sta Nan utility corridor project would be built in partnership with Indigenous communities co-located along the corridor. The proposal represents an unprecedented level of political will and collaboration between disparate Indigenous communities, and a significant path towards improving Indigenous communities in Manitoba and in other Western provinces.

The proposed corridor is a textbook example of what would be a win-win-win all around. Manitoba and federal policy makers should understand and support the Port Nelson gateway corridor proposal.