Trans Mountain works collaboratively with our local Indigenous communities to provide access to economic development opportunities – from employment and business opportunities to training programs.

As a result of this collaborative process, Trans Mountain created a close-to-qualified training program – the Pipeline Construction Readiness Training Program (PCRT) – based on direct input received from Indigenous communities. The PCRT is implemented in partnership with our general construction contractors working on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

Nicole Dunham is the Indigenous and Community Relations Advisor with Midwest Pipelines, one of the General Construction Contractors on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, and is a member of the Lac Ste. Anne Métis. She participated in the Pipeline Construction Readiness Training Program in December 2019, which helped shape her career. We sat down with Nicole, virtually, to learn more about the program and how it has helped her advance her career.

How did you hear about Trans Mountain’s Pipeline Construction Readiness Training Program?

I had recently completed the Office Administration Program at NAIT and started with Midwest Pipelines working as an Environmental Administrator. The PCRT program was being talked about in the office, and a co-worker told me it was a good opportunity and if I was interested, I should apply. Before taking the PCRT training, I thought of pipeline companies as the people putting the pipe in the ground. I didn’t realize there was so much more that happens behind the scenes for pipeline construction. It was a very steep learning curve, but my team was exceptional and helped me so much.

Since completing the program, I was asked to interview for an Indigenous & Community Relations (ICR) Advisor position with Midwest and was thrilled to learn I was the successful candidate! My new role has allowed me to engage with so many people and communities, every day there is something new to learn.

What did you learn during the program?

In addition to receiving safety tickets, the program provided me with an overview of the pipeline construction industry. It taught me about operations, technologies, roles, safety, industry practices and pipeline construction terminology. Before this training, I wouldn’t have been able to even point out a side boom on a worksite!

What was the most beneficial part?

During the training program, we had many Indigenous communities come together to participate. Talking amongst each other and learning from each other meant a lot. We also had the opportunity to complete certain safety tickets, which was really helpful to advance my career. Working as an Indigenous and Community Relations Advisor for Midwest Pipelines, I get to help with onboarding, training and hiring, among many other things. It definitely helped me realize all of the options I had in front of me and helped me reach those career goals.

What advice would you give to someone starting off in their career?

Take a chance, even if it doesn’t work out – why not try. For me, this opportunity opened the door for a future career, along with furthering my education. If you don’t raise your hand sometimes, you’ll never get to learn more.