Trans Mountain requires its contractors to have Aboriginal monitors working on Environmental Inspection Teams at all construction spreads.

The monitors will provide traditional knowledge to ensure protection of the environment and monitor environmental mitigation activity related to protection of traditional land and resource use and cultural/heritage values.

The integration of Aboriginal monitors into the Environmental Inspection team is a strategic way to ensure traditional knowledge is incorporated directly and pragmatically into construction practices and decision-making. It brings an Indigenous lens into daily activities including the review and reporting of Project activities.

The scope of the Aboriginal monitoring role includes:

  • Familiarization with environmental plans and worksheets relevant for each day’s work
  • Attend daily meeting with Environmental Inspection Team; verbally relay concerns/issues
  • Monitor for mitigation implementation/effectiveness
  • Prepare daily reports and other records (e.g., photographic records)
  • Participate in sampling and other environmental inspection duties, as directed
  • Participate in protocols for communicating information to Aboriginal groups

Trans Mountain, through the Secwépemc Cultural Education Society (SCES), retained the Natural Resource Training Group (NRTG) to deliver an Environmental Field Skills program to a group of 14 Aboriginal students. There was also an archaeology course and a ‘Pipeline 101’ course for the final day. Program graduates can apply to work with TMEP contractors.

According to Registered Professional Biologist Darren Hebert, principal with NRTG, the Environmental Field Skills Certificate Program “is a very practical, field-based Environmental skills training certificate program.” The 15-day program is delivered on-demand, in communities throughout North America, utilizing local sites and watersheds as the classroom.

Hebert said EFS graduates are qualified and capable to lead or assist with environmental monitoring and assessment of mining, hydro-electric, oil & gas, forestry, road construction, and other natural resource-related programs and projects.

Martha Matthew, Coordinator, Training and Employment for Aboriginal Engagement with TMEP, said the groundwork for the monitor training program dates back to 2012, through engagement with Aboriginal communities along the project right-of-way. Also involved were Trans Mountain’s Aboriginal engagement and environment teams, and third-party service providers.

“It really takes a team effort to pull together to make this a story of success,” Matthew said. She added that as the monitor training program drew close, SCES Senior Manager Rita Matthew ensured that students coming from out of town had accommodation, equipment and other support services.

Rita Matthew said the program had a full roster of 14 students and that all have satisfied the program’s requirements. Aboriginal monitoring work is in demand for a variety of resource-based activities, she noted.

“There are potential opportunities through TMEP but there’s also a wide range of industry needs that this program prepares people for,” Rita Matthew said.