Outreach session: LNG progress, positives, and Cedar LNG plans

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(Photo of Crystal Smith and Kevin Stewart)

In our latest online Outreach session (on 24 November 2021) Chief Councillor Crystal Smith of the Haisla Nation talked progress and positives after a visit to the LNG Canada site at Kitimat:

‘It is absolutely amazing the progress that both  Coastal GasLink and LNG Canada are making in regards to the construction portion of their projects . . . about 50% complete.”

“I couldn’t help it, but as we were driving around, to take notice of  the amount of membership that we have there. Not only our Haisla members but First Nations people that I recognize from other communities (and) seeing other Nations’ joint-venture partnerships that have been also included and are participating in the construction phase of this major project. So it is quite busy in all of Kitimat. . . .”

On other benefits from LNG development to her nation:

“We’ve been able to create and focus in on our culture and language department where, for the first time in our Haisla history, their mandate is to revitalize our culture and our language. . . . We’ve been able to dedicate specific dollars to achieve that. Also, apart from that, we’ve been able to commit to dollars in regard to the mental health aspect of our community as well.”

Haisla councillor Kevin Stewart: “What I’m really happy to see is, like Crystal said, the amount of activity in our area, the amount of people working. All of our people are working. There’s a lot of work to go around for everybody. . . . I’m happy to see people buying their own houses, the young people, the young couples, and buying their own vehicles, and having their own life. That’s what this is all about.”

Tony Brady, Haisla Nation’s director of economic development and vice-president of business development for Cedar LNG, the nation’s own planned LNG project: “We are just about to file our draft environmental assessment application with the BCEAO (BC Environmental Assessment Office). So that’s going to go in around December 9th. We’re really excited from a regulatory perspective to be taking that step. . . .

“Now we’re moving into the Front End Engineering and Design stage, so it’s the final stage before we could take our Final Investment Decision. We’ve gone through some significant redesigns on the site, to try and minimize as much environmental impact as we can, and we’re staying strong with our commitment to clean energy for the Cedar project, and so . . . we will be an electrified, air-cooled project. That’s our plan. That’s what we’ve submitted to the EAO, and that’s what was important to the nation to . . . make sure that we follow through with environment over profitability.”

Denine Gosselin, leader of the Coastal GasLink community workforce accommodation advisors’ program, on the role of First Nations advisors at workforce camps:

“We currently have about 16 advisors from various nations along the entire project route, installed and implemented into each of the workforce accommodations. . . . We believe that the workforce has a better opportunity of understanding and being better neighbours to the communities when they know who the communities are. So part of the role of the advisors in those camps is to actually share and teach the culture of their nation. And to provide opportunities to engage in cultural activities.

“And then the other role of those advisors is direct reporting . . . to nations on what the operations are like inside those workplaces. So we ask them to look at what are we doing right, what do we need to change, and how do we move forward together to implement those changes. . . . It’s been a very, very successful program. We’re into Year Two now.”

Watch the video of the Zoom session here: http://ow.ly/pHvf50GXFV2 (Passcode: 372V@@%9)

Any questions? Do email outreach@FNLNGAlliance.com

In earlier Outreach sessions:

  • On Nov. 3, our sixth online session looked at training and opportunities for BC women in LNG and pipelines and related projects. Our panelists were Hope Regimbald, LNG Canada; Paula Smith, Your Place training for women; Bonnie George, Coastal GasLink; and Mona Anatole of the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA).

Our speakers on Nov. 3 opened by listing barriers to employment for women.

Bonnie George, community workforce accommodations advisor, Coastal GasLink: “What I’ve been seeing is the confidence level of a lot of the women in our workforce. They don’t have the confidence and there’s a lot of contributing factors to that. . . .Confidence is a really really big one. . . . As long as that foundation is weak, what you build is going to crumble. We need to build our people up, we need to build them and build their confidence that, you know, any goal that they have, any dream, is attainable. And we can help  them get there.”

Paula Smith, program facilitator, Your Place training program: “(Among) the issues that come up when we start talking about trades and employment in the construction  industry, the major contributor is family obligations, as a wife, as a mother. Being away from home on shiftwork doesn’t always work. Daycare spots are few and far between. More often than not you have to rely on your family members for support. . . . The home-life balance definitely takes a hit when you are working, . . .

“A third point would be a living wage. Apprentices make only a  certain percentage of what a journeyperson receives, so it’s easier to go out and find a labourer job that pays you well than to take an actual apprenticeship. That’s what I find is huge in my community. As well, out in the workplace, it could be an unwelcoming work environment. They often face harassment. And from the community perspective I look at alcohol and drug testing and a lack of a driver licence as barriers to employment.”

Hope Regimbald, Indigenous Relations Advisor, LNG Canada:

“I think what I’d add to the list that’s already been shared is  . . . we’re still living in cycles of the impact of colonization, of historic marginalization, of economic marginalization – specifically in some cases for women; with the impact of some of those intergenerational, targeted, ways to keep us out of engaging in the economy meaningfully.”

Moderator Matthew Louie asked what companies are doing to increase women’s participation in the trades.

Hope Regimbald: “Your Place is one of the major programs that we offer in order to get women in the trades . . . In addition to that, JFJV has their Bootcamp which specifically holds positions for women and Indigenous women to get them in a trades-training program and a basic entry-level program to help women even decide whether or not trades is the right fit for them. . . .

“We just rereleased the Power Engineering Readiness program that’s going to be offered here in the new year, and that’s going to train about 20 operators in the first cohort.  And that’s an opportunity where you can do your upgrading at the same time and get ready. . . .

“We’re going to need a ton of operators in this plant, and this provides the opportunity to have that bridge; you don’t need to have the experience, you don’t need to have your Fourth Class right off the bat. If you think you might want to work on the LNG Canada facility once it’s in operation, this is a door open to that. . . .

“There are training programs that are offered directly through LNG Canada and then there are programs that are supported by LNG Canada. . . It’s been reflected in the number of women that are joining our project, especially Indigenous women, As of September . . . we have 88 Indigenous women working on our project. . . . It makes up about 26% of our Indigenous workforce . . . and women on our site in general make up 15% of our workforce right now. That’s higher than most construction sites in our country’s history.”

Paula Smith gave more detail on the Your Place program: “It’s a three-week program where under-represented or females facing barriers into employment come in for three weeks (one week is virtual). We do a lot of hands-on training with them. We get their basic certificate and we do a lot of best-practices, talking about, for instance, barriers to employment, what to expect when you’re getting into a site. . . .We then eventually get into referring them for employment, and it has been quite a successful program. . . . More networking an d meeting more of  the companies is where we need to improve.”

And, she added, companies can do more: “Companies can create diverse and inclusive workplace cultures. . . . creating mentoring or job-shadowing programs for females. . . communicating sexual-harassment policies . . . and also hiring a liaison to deal with issues on the worksite.”

Bonnie George:  “We need to ensure that these contracts with these companies are brushed up on sexual harassment, and to identify even small forms of it, because it does escalate.”

You can see and hear more here with passcode: vc=HKNT1

  • On Sept. 22, our fifth Outreach session introduced, and discussed, our Guide to Benefit Agreements. It’s a tool designed to help First Nations sort through the ins and outs and 16 critical issues around Benefit Agreements, and build understanding of them.

Speakers were Dr. Priya Bala-Miller of Palmyra Partners Consulting Inc., Dr. Kevin Hanna of the Centre for Environmental Assessment Research at UBC, and Rick Krehbiel, policy and special assignments expert for the Alliance.

Kevin Hanna opened by noting that research on benefit agreements until now has largely been focused on mining and/or in the North.

“It’s fair to say this is kind of a new area, it’s a little bit untilled for us in this country. So we’re beginning to see how they work, how they perform, how they can best be structured so that they support and provide benefits for Indigenous communities and Indigenous peoples when they engage and work with resource development projects; or any kind of project, for that matter, that can occur on their territories in their unceded land.”

Priya Bala-Miller: “Benefit agreements are really about relationships. They’re tools to help us navigate all these different relationships. And It’s my sincere hope that the tool we have co-created with the Alliance, and collaborated on with members of the Alliance, (will) forge relationships and more sustainable relationships in the energy sector as we go forward.

“We also worked very closely with the Alliance to try to think about some way-finding principles that would offer us a lens through which to look at this body of information.  And that was very, very important because that also allowed us to really lead with a First Nations frame of  reference. . . .

“When we looked at the body of research we were able to identify 16 critical issues that we think are areas (for) First Nations who are involved in these processes already, or are looking to enter into them. . . . I don’t want to call them stumbling blocks, but they can be. Or they can be really areas that can be leveraged to generate very, very positive impacts.”

Rick Krehbiel (who is also a lawyer): ‘Most people will understand that the law of consultation has evolved since the 1990s — the requirement of governments to involve First Nations, and consult First Nations, in decisions that they make that might affect rights and title, Aboriginal rights, treaty rights etc. . . .

“The two more recent things that have come out of that (include) the Ermineskin court decision out of Alberta, where governments are required to consult on the economic impacts of First Nations that are entrenched in impact agreements like this. . . . What Ermineskin tells us is that First Nations with economic interests in development projects need to be consulted about governments’ decisions that interfere with those economic opportunities. So that is huge to my mind.”

Alliance CEO Karen Ogen-Toews wrapped up  the session with the point that the need for reconciliation and economic reconciliation is so real today.

“We can’t afford to wait five to 10 years. . . . We want to see action today. Reconciliation, economic reconciliation, equity ownership, that’s the language we want to be hearing, because we’re dealing with communities that live in poverty or have capacity issues; you name it.

“It’s up to us, each one of us, to find ways to address these issues within our communities and find a way forward for Indigenous people.
“And by doing this kind of research, it’s also helping us.”

Here is the guide 

Watch the session on video

Our  session on 28 July 2021 looked at what local governments can do to help progress on the path to economic reconciliation. What are they doing? What more could they do? What could (and should) senior governments do to accelerate progress?

Panelists were Dale Bumstead, mayor of Dawson Creek BC, and Charlie Rensby, councillor for Burns Lake BC.

Thanks to all, visitors and panelists, who took part in our second online Outreach session on June 17:

(First posted here 06 November 2021 and updated 27 November 2021)

First Nations LNG Alliance Newsletter