‘Instead of digging in our heels, we rolled up our sleeves’
Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement expected to create $250 million in Indigenous contracting and labor spending (Part 1 of 2)
As the final phase of Line 3 pipeline replacement construction in Canada nears its peak, the economic benefits are beginning to add up in a big way for many Indigenous individuals and businesses, as well as the communities to which they belong.
“The economic benefits flowing to Indigenous communities from Line 3 pipeline construction are no accident or happy coincidence,” says Enbridge’s Dave Lawson, Vice President, Major Project Execution, Canada. “Rather, they are the direct result of our comprehensive and proactive engagement program and the joint commitments between Enbridge and numerous Indigenous communities or groups.”
One such community is the Birdtail Sioux First Nation, 50 kilometers north of Virden, Manitoba.
“When Enbridge approached us about replacing the Line 3 pipeline, some of our people were apprehensive. We shared our concerns about safety, our traditional land and the water, and about maintaining our way of life,” says Chief Ken Chalmers. “But instead of digging in our heels, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. With support from Enbridge, we created our own company. It’s called Birdtail Inclusive and we’re providing electrical installation and commissioning services to Enbridge across multiple geographies.”
At $5.3 billion for the Canadian segment alone, the L3RP is the largest capital project in Enbridge’s history. Not surprisingly, it also represents the largest and most successful community engagement effort the company has ever undertaken—including more than 150 Indigenous communities, as far as 300 km from the pipeline right of way.
“I’ve been engaged with Enbridge for 15 years,” says Chalmers. “We’ve got 22 young men and women who are now being mobilized to go to work, so we’re very happy. That income coming back home creates self-esteem and they are now off those welfare rolls and they are now contributing to their families. That’s huge for us.”
Enbridge’s inclusive approach on the Line 3 replacement has led to 58 cooperative project agreements, representing the participation of 98 Indigenous communities or groups.
Execution of these agreements, which include more than $30 million in capacity funding, has supported Indigenous contracting and labor spending of approximately $142 million to the end of August 2018. This number is expected to be around $250 million upon completion of the L3RP.
“From the outset, we’ve made a concerted effort to ensure Indigenous communities understand our project, specifically how they can participate and benefit economically,” explains Kim Brenneis, Enbridge’s Director of Community and Indigenous Engagement. “I think the results we’re now seeing speak to Enbridge’s strong commitment to inclusion as well as to building mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities.”
(TOP PHOTO: Chief Ken Chalmers of the Birdtail Sioux First Nation, right, meets Canada's Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi during a federal Line 3 Replacement Program media event at Morden, MB, in August 2018.)