Aboriginal engagement

Northern Gateway has already received considerable input from stakeholders in Alberta and B.C.  Feedback received so far has resulted in changes to the project design and routing to ensure we meet best practices with regards to safety and environmental protection. 

Project staff have been reaching out to people in northern communities to shape how the Project will benefit their communities.

Northern Gateway is working cooperatively with Aboriginal communities to ensure that they have the opportunity to meaningfully benefit from the project over the long term. 

In fact, in June of 2011, Northern Gateway filed an update to its regulatory application to the National Energy Board that detailed extensive consultations with over 40 Aboriginal groups in B.C. and Alberta.

Aboriginal groups have continued to provide important feedback, which has informed and tailored Northern Gateway’s response to interests and concerns raised during consultation.

Many meetings were the result of requests by Aboriginal groups for a better understanding of pipeline routing and construction, watercourse crossing strategies, spill response logistics, environmental impacts and economic development opportunities.

There are numerous examples of how Aboriginal communities and Northern Gateway staff have worked collaboratively.

Strategic Watercrossing Assessment Team acquires traditional knowledge

Northern Gateway's Strategic Watercrossing Assessment Team, SWAT for short, is tasked with finding the best, safest and and most environmentally responsible methods for crossing the inland waterways of the proposed pipeline route. The team is made up of expert engineers, fisheries and pipeline construction specialists, and also features local aboriginal experts with traditional knowledge of the areas studied. The team looks for technically feasable areas with the least potential for adverse environmental impact.

Dwayne Prince, of the Skin Tyee Nation, was one aboriginal expert employed on the SWAT team for his traditional knowledge of the specific area under study. He showed his team different routes, possibly better suited for stream crossing, the least disruptive to animal migration and more accessible places, minimizing environmental impact.

Dwayne's familiarity with the areas studied proved extremely beneficial. "They were spots where we used to go hunting in the summer," he said. "Everytime was something different. I looked forward to going out there every time I had a chance."

The primary concern for the SWAT teams is protecting the environment and the integrity of the pipeline. "Safety was number one," said Dwayne. When asked if he'd consider the opportunity to work more with Enbridge on the Northern Gateway project, Dwayne replied, "Definitely, I wouldn't be able to get the same experience any other way."  

Metis organizations meet to discusses opportunities

The New Caledonia Metis Association (NCMA) represents Metis people in the region around Fort St James, B.C. President Alan Howell and other representatives met with Enbridge to discuss the proposed Northern Gateway project in an effort to discover opportunities and address concerns. The NCMA is keen to learn about employment and business opportunites related to the project, including long term pipeline and pumping station maintenance and supply. "That's the kind of relationship I'd like," said Alan Howell.

"I can't go so far as say we support the project 100 per cent." said Alan, who raised a number of concerns about the proposed route under watercrossings and through areas traditionally used for berry picking. The NCMA also wanted to learn how Enbridge would prevent unauthorized access to the right-of-way. "We're concerned about how they're going to stop access," said Alan, "so people can't get on four-wheelers and go up and down the pipeline hunting."

Other Metis organizations, the Metis Nation of B.C. and the Metis Nation of Alberta, met with Enbridge in Vancouver to discuss the proposed pipeline. The meetings were an opportunity to share information about each organization, discuss areas of mutual interest, discover potential for collaboration and participation in the pipeline project. The groups also discussed possibility to hold future meetings to review the project as each deemed necessary.   

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  • Northern Gateway, Mar 18th, 2013 (2 years ago)

    Hi Sonja, thanks for your question.

    While exact figures are not easy to extract, partly because we have been engaging since the conceptual phase of the project in 2002, we can advise that:
    • Over a span of several years, we have maintained a committed team of Aboriginal engagement specialists in both BC and Alberta. Their wages and travel expenses would form part of our overall engagement expenditure
    • Over the same multi-year span, we have made investment in capacity funding with Aboriginal communities, to ensure that they have the capacity to engage their resources in understanding, learning about and commenting on our Project. The total investment in capacity funding over time has been several million dollars.
    • During the same time period, we have also invested in Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Use studies, so that we can understand the possible impacts of the project – and avoid or mitigate this impact. In total, we have invested several million dollars in ATK and TUS studies.
    • More recently, as we get closer to an anticipated Project recommendation by the JRP, we have begun to invest in skills development and training-to-employment programs. The total amount invested in this area to date is getting close to $ 1 million
    • The biggest investments in Aboriginal engagement are yet to come – these will arise from procurement, employment and equity ownership

  • Sonja, Mar 18th, 2013 (2 years ago)

    How much has Enbridge invested in Aboriginal engagement so far?

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