Line 3 Replacement Program: Building capacity, one person at a time

Enbridge project provides assorted employment opportunities for Indigenous workers

Building capacity. In the business world, it refers to developing the skills, knowledge and understanding for future success.

At Enbridge, we use the term to describe our engagement with Indigenous communities—with the goal of capturing long-term benefits from current and future projects, such as the Line 3 Replacement Program, as well as ongoing maintenance and operations work.

“Ultimately, it comes down to individuals and supporting their success. Enbridge has a significant interest in supporting transferable skills development, since we recognize that much of pipeline work is temporary,” says Jamie Honda-McNeil, Enbridge’s Manager of Community and Indigenous Engagement in Canada.

“We’ve made a concerted effort to identify Indigenous candidates for work opportunities and provide them the skills and training they need to secure work—not only on Line 3, but wherever their careers will take them,” he adds.

For a mammoth undertaking like Enbridge’s L3RP, capacity building takes many forms, including:

  • training-to-employment programs;
  • creating unique positions like Indigenous construction liaisons and monitors, and
  • encouraging our contractors to provide detailed Indigenous participation plans in their bid packages.

Evan McNab-Desjarlais is one such candidate who took advantage of an opportunity to work on the Line 3 project through an Enbridge contractor.

McNab-Desjarlais, 21, had just moved from Saskatoon back to his home on George Gordon First Nation, 110 kilometres northwest of Regina.

In early July, he received an e-mail about some on-reserve training being conducted by Golder Associates, which is providing environmental support for Line 3 construction in Saskatchewan, and a subcontractor, Wicehtowak Limnos Consulting Services Ltd.

“When I moved back on the reserve it was tough finding a job,” says McNab-Desjarlais. “But when I heard of the training coming up—and a potential job offer—I took it as a real opportunity to get some work and do some good.”

McNab-Desjarlais enrolled in a training program that qualified him to support environmental specialists working on pipeline construction projects, and then secured a position on the Line 3 project through Wicehtowak Limnos.

He was subsequently deployed to the Line 3 right-of-way near Regina, where Enbridge recently completed a crossing underneath the environmentally and culturally sensitive Qu’Appelle River using a trenchless technique known as micro-tunneling, or horizontal directional drilling (HDD).

The work gave him a “changed perspective” on the environment, he says, and involved a good cross-section of disciplines—wildlife surveying, archeological and heritage resource monitoring, and aquatic surveying and monitoring.

“I really enjoyed the work,” says McNab-Desjarlais. “It was quite the learning experience.”

The aquatics surveying was a particular highlight.

“We started a few days before drilling, to collect baseline samples upstream and downstream of the HDD,” he explains. “We drilled holes in the (river) ice at five locations to take test samples. What I really loved about it was the data analyzing, where we’d take the samples and put them through a turbidity reading, which measures the clarity of the water.”

With the river crossing now effectively complete, McNab-Desjarlais is back home but eager for more work, which he expects in the new year.

“I’m on a call list,” he says. “When work becomes available, they’ll go down the list and I’ll be asked if I want to go. Of course, I’ll say yes.”

(TOP PHOTO: Evan McNab-Desjarlais' work on Enbridge's Line 3 project in Saskatchewan changed his perspective on the environment.)