The national chief for the Assembly of First Nations says he’s open to the idea of Ottawa reportedly considering gifting First Nations groups the Trans Mountain pipeline – as long as it would be a benefit to all of them.  

“Any major equity stake, if it’s gifted, well that’s fine,” Perry Bellegarde said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Thursday. “But we still have to make the business case going forward.”

Bellegarde’s comments come amid a Postmedia report citing sources that the federal government is actively considering giving part or all of the pipeline to First Nations groups, months after Ottawa bought it from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.

“It’s got to be a good return on investment for investors – and how can all 634 First Nations across Canada benefit?,” Bellegarde said.

“So if it’s going to be gifted, I’d look at the bigger picture about how we can all benefit.”

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Wednesday the government will not appeal the Federal Court of Appeal’s Aug. 30 ruling that quashed the government’s approval of the pipeline project. Sohi said the government will instead re-launch consultations with First Nations groups in British Columbia.

Bellegarde applauded Ottawa’s decision not to appeal, which he says would have been too timely and costly.

And while he’s cautious on the idea of First Nations groups owning the pipeline, Bellegarde says the inclusion of First Nations people ultimately creates economic stability, which he says will attract more foreign investment into Canada.

“It’s a positive thing – whether you look at equity ownership or gifting, it’s a good thing,” Bellegarde said.

“We’re getting involved in the economy.”