‘This is going to be my breakout—right here’

Indigenous inspector-in-training learns the ropes on Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Program

After more than 10 years in the pipeline business, Preston Henry knows you need to be willing travel to where the work is.

Often, that’s far from his home in Ochapowace First Nation, 174 kilometres east of Regina.

But that just happens to be very near Enbridge’s Line 3 right of way, so it’s no surprise he found work on the pipeline replacement project—with a little help from Eagle Energy Solutions Group, owned by Des Dumais of neighboring Kahkewistahaw First Nation (KFN).

Dumais, whose firm specializes in designing and building gas plants and oil and gas facilities, was approached by KFN Chief Evan Taypotat to help ensure community members took full advantage of the opportunities presented by the large Enbridge project.

“A lot of guys were looking for work and some of those communities didn’t really have that platform that we did through KFN,” says Dumais. “I asked Chief Evan if it was OK to involve some neighboring communities and he said, ‘Yes, it’s about putting people to work and getting that exposure.’ ”

Eagle Energy has brought 27 workers aboard Line 3, including more than 20 from within KFN.

“There’s a lot of talent in Indigenous communities out there in southern Saskatchewan,” says Dumais. “The Line 3 project has really helped those guys see where they want to go. That doesn’t happen a lot with a lot of projects. Personally, I think Enbridge has done an amazing job—integrating a lot of people that haven’t been introduced to the industry before.”

Line 3 Replacement Program (Canada)
The multibillion-dollar Line 3 Replacement Program (L3RP), with a $5.3-billion Canadian component, is the largest project in Enbridge history.
Brokering excellence on Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Program
Labor brokers providing top-notch Indigenous workers for project contractors in Western Canada

Dumais’ company has brought aboard experienced hands like Henry, who completed Enbridge Pipeline 101 and Pipeline Inspector training before joining the L3RP in September.

“I’ve now been exposed to just about every part of what an inspector does,” he says. “It’s been a good learning experience. I’m going to take full advantage of it—why not? It’ll help me back home, with taking care of my wife and two kids.”

A self-described “outgoing guy,” Henry has developed a solid rapport with the crews he works with. “You have to stand back and observe and let them do their job. When you get that two-minute break, I walk up and ask how their day is going, where they’re from—to me, that’s good. I like to meet people.”

“Relationships are key,” Dumais agrees. “So many positive stories have come from the Line 3 project and so many communities have jumped at the opportunity and built strategic alliances and partnerships. KFN chose to work with a band member experienced in industry and invested in training to ensure community members were job-ready. Being Indigenous or non-Indigenous, you need to be prepared and do the best job you can do and just focus on that.”

When his L3RP work winds up next year, Henry plans to write the API 1169 exam to qualify as a full inspector. To prepare, he’ll be taking two online courses sponsored by Enbridge. “I definitely want to get into inspecting,” he says. “This is going to be my breakout—right here, being an inspector in training.”

Remarks Dumais: “Sometimes people just need a bit of an opportunity. Some guys will run with it—and Preston’s one of those guys that’s just super-focused and he’s doing a great job. I’m really happy for him.”

(TOP PHOTO: Preston Henry plans on writing the API 1169 exam next year to qualify as a full pipeline inspector.)