The chance to participate in a “game-changing” opportunity for Indigenous Peoples brought Hope Sanderson to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in October 2018.

Prior to joining Trans Mountain last year as Senior Director, Indigenous Affairs, Hope spent almost 30 years working in Canada’s energy sector with a strong focus on leading stakeholder and Indigenous engagement as well as government advocacy. We recently connected with her to learn more about how we work with Indigenous Peoples.

How would you describe our approach to working with Indigenous Peoples?

We’re committed to understanding Indigenous groups needs and interests, and to build awareness and understanding of who we are as a company and how we operate. We have open doors to hear their concerns and ideas on how to make this Project and our operation as relevant as possible to the society in which we live, as well the areas in which they live. We make sure we’re open to hearing what they have to say and where possible, adjust our operations to reflect that. They’re all neighbours to some degree, and we want to have a good relationship with our neighbours.

How does your personal experience inform your approach to work?

I’m an Indigenous woman who has worked in industry for a long time but I never forget I am part of that community. We say ‘walking a moccasin in both worlds.’ When (Trans Mountain President and CEO) Ian Anderson was interviewing me, and before he offered me the job, he asked me why I wanted it.

I said I saw this Project as a game changer for the communities along the pipeline right-of-way, that without it, this sort of opportunity would probably never materialize for them.

We’ll see people getting opportunities for training and employment, and to develop businesses and the economic benefits that come out of all of that. My personal feeling is that our Indigenous communities are so far behind the rest of Canada economically that the playing field is not level. This Project is one way to help. We can’t be all things to all people but we sure can try to be a contributor in the communities we do touch. This Project can be a game changer for these communities and the people in them, if they want it to be.