‘We chose to get in front of the industry, as opposed to standing off to the side’

Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement has engaged more than 1,000 Indigenous workers (Part 2 of 2)

Across the Canadian prairies, more than 1,000 Indigenous workers have now been employed on Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Program.

Out on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, near Broadview in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley, Chief Evan Taypotat is very proud of the number 20.

“Kahkewistahaw chose to get in front of the industry, as opposed to standing off to the side. Enbridge Line 3 is kind of a springboard for our people and we have approximately 20 band members now working on the project,” says Chief Taypotat.

“I stand here as a chief today that supports this pipeline based on the fact that Enbridge came to my Nation, we went back to them in Calgary and we worked out a deal that is good not only for Enbridge but for my people as well.”

At $5.3 billion for the Canadian segment alone, the L3RP is the largest capital project in Enbridge’s history. And as the final phase of Line 3 pipeline replacement construction in Canada nears its peak, that total of 1,000 Indigenous workers (as of early October) represents nearly 20 percent of the construction workforce.

Those numbers include 27 monitors and nine liaisons that provide an Indigenous perspective and advice to the project construction team and help ensure the environmental mitigation strategies are implemented.

Barry Horon, Enbridge’s Director of Supply Chain Management for Liquids Pipelines and Major Projects, cites three major reasons for the L3RP’s strong Indigenous participation and spending profile, which is expected to reach $250 million in Indigenous contracting and labor upon project completion.

“First, we’re working with Indigenous communities to help create the capacity needed to participate in meaningful pipeline contracting and employment opportunities,” he says.

“Second, Enbridge has adopted a proactive supply chain process that, among other initiatives, requires prospective contractors to include detailed Indigenous participation plans in their bids,” adds Horon. “Third, we’ve implemented a labor strategy to enhance connections between Indigenous job seekers and our primary construction contractors through an online portal and the use of Indigenous labor brokers.”

Another key component of the labor strategy was the now-completed Line 3 Pipeline 101 training-to-employment program. Over three years, more than 260 Indigenous men and women graduated from the program, 184 of whom have secured work on the L3RP to date.

“The training, the employment and business development—those are realized benefits at the First Nations level,” says Chief Todd Peigan of Pasqua First Nation in southern Saskatchewan. “The benefits that the First Nations receive, we use those resources to enhance programs and services in education, youth, recreation and elders’ programs—that is what Enbridge has done for a number of First Nations.

“So I encourage First Nations to sit down with Enbridge and work out processes; if you have conflicts, work them out. Because we all need to be benefit from this pipeline, we all need to be involved with that.”

(TOP PHOTO: Chief Evan Taypotat of the Kahkewistahaw First Nation speaks at the podium during a Line 3 Replacement Program media event in summer 2018. "Enbridge Line 3 is kind of a springboard for our people," he says.)