Aboriginal Rights

Topics of Importance Aboriginal & Native American Rights & Engagement

2015 Performance


We are reviewing and updating our Aboriginal and Native American Policy and developing a new Indigenous engagement framework that will help us transform the way we engage and maintain our long-term relationships with Indigenous communities.

In 2015, we spent more than $63 million on procuring goods and services from Aboriginal businesses, contractors and suppliers in Canada.

Our Line 3 Replacement program (L3RP) in Canada has involved the most extensive outreach to Aboriginal groups and communities in our history. Over the two years that led up to the December 2015 hearings on L3RP, we met with more than 150 Aboriginal groups and communities.

In 2015, we provided over $800,000 in community development funding to Aboriginal communities across Canada in support of initiatives such as new and improved infrastructure projects.

In August 2015, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) recertified us at the “silver” level under its Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program.

Our Work with Aboriginal Communities in Canada to Create Opportunities

Reverse Tradeshows

In 2015, we hosted three reverse tradeshows to which we invited local Aboriginal business representatives and contractors, as well as non-profit and governmental organizations that support Aboriginal business development, employment and training. At the tradeshows, our Mainline contractors and representatives from our Supply Chain Management, Safety, Quality Assurance and Operations departments, provided business marketing materials to participants, answered questions and exchanged information regarding business profiles and opportunities.

The tradeshows demonstrate our commitment and dedication to working with and enhancing our relationships with Aboriginal communities and businesses. They also give our employees and Mainline contractors an opportunity to learn more about our approach to maximizing Aboriginal participation in our projects and operations.

As a result of the tradeshows, we better understand local aboriginal businesses’ capabilities, and aboriginal business representatives better understand our—and our mainline contractors’—processes and requirements. Aboriginal contractors also gained access to training, employment and subcontracting opportunities.

Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project

Since 2012, we have been engaging with a number of Aboriginal groups, including the Kahnawake First Nation (MCK) in Quebec, regarding our Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion project (Line 9). As part of our engagement with MCK, we established an internal process—which involved numerous technical briefings, field tours, meetings and other communications—that we used to strengthen our relationship with this community and to work through concerns outside of the National Energy Board (NEB) regulatory process.

Partially as a result of our efforts, in April 2015, MCK helped us meet one of the conditions that the NEB had imposed on the Line 9 project by providing us with valuable recommendations and technical guidance.

Cabin Natural Gas Plant Procurement

In 2015, we entered into service contracts worth over $25 million with local Aboriginal businesses related to our Cabin natural gas plant and its operations camp in northwest B.C. The businesses provide camp operations and janitorial services as well as services pertaining to the provision of potable and utility water, sewage collection and disposal, the inspection and repair of HVAC units and the grading of plant roads, among others.

Line 3 Replacement Program (Canada) Engagement

Our Line 3 Replacement program (L3RP) in Canada has involved the most extensive outreach to Aboriginal groups and communities in our history. Over the two years that led up to the December 2015 NEB hearings on L3RP, we met with more than 150 Aboriginal groups and communities, some of which have reserve lands as far as 300 kilometers from the L3RP right-of-way.

Listening was a key part of our approach throughout our engagement leading up to the hearings. While listening, we heard about the communities’ traditional connection to the land, and about the land’s fundamental importance to their culture and way of life. We also acquired Aboriginal traditional knowledge, which we included in the comprehensive L3RP environmental and socio-economic assessment (ESA) that we completed in advance of the NEB hearings. The ESA considered L3RP’s possible cultural and social impacts on areas such as trails and waterways, plant harvesting, hunting, fishing and sacred sites, and its possible environmental impacts on areas such as water, air, fish, wetlands, vegetation, wildlife and human health, among other areas. After completing the ESA, we proposed hundreds of mitigation measures for L3RP.

As part of our L3RP engagement leading up to the hearings, we engaged with a number of Saskatchewan First Nations near the Qu’Appelle River Valley to exchange knowledge and ideas regarding how we can mutually protect and steward water and ecosystems in the valley.

We also worked with all of the First Nations along the L3RP right-of-way to plan a range of training, education and employment opportunities. The result of this work was our L3RP Training-to-Employment program, which will give participants an opportunity to gain technical knowledge, transferable skills, and ongoing support for career growth and development in the pipeline and construction industries. We launched the first two L3RP Training-to-Employment program pilot sessions—Pipeline 101 and Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO)—in November 2015 in Saskatchewan. Forty participants successfully completed Pipeline 101, while 29 successfully completed the HEO session. As we evolve the L3RP Training-to-Employment program, we intend to offer additional training opportunities to participants in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Wood Buffalo Extension Project

Through our engagement with Aboriginal communities along our Wood Buffalo Extension project’s right-of-way, we learned of the need for basic trades training for community members interested in entry-level pipeline construction positions. In response, we invested $180,000 in 18 Aboriginal community members from northeastern Alberta so that they could enroll in Portage College’s Pipeline Construction training-to-employment pilot project. We also secured contracts from Midwest Pipelines for the pilot project participants to work on our Wood Buffalo Pipeline Extension project during the 2015 to 2016 construction season.

Greater Toronto Area Project

In 2012, Enbridge Gas Distribution (EGD) began consulting with Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders regarding its Greater Toronto Area (GTA) project to install 50 kilometers of new natural gas distribution pipelines to meet GTA’s growing need for natural gas. EGD began constructing the project—the route for which was primarily located within existing utility corridors—in December 2014 and completed it in early 2016.

In response to environmental concerns that local Aboriginal groups had expressed, throughout the project’s construction, EGD arranged for an environmental inspector to lead monthly visits to specific sites that were of interest to the groups. The visits gave the groups an opportunity to learn about the project, and gave EGD an opportunity to understand their concerns.

As part of the project, EGD also consulted with representatives of the distantly located Huron-Wendat Nation (HWN) after its initial archeological assessments had identified three HWN sites of interest in the existing utility corridor. As a result of its consultations, EGD hired an archaeologist and engaged archaeological monitors from several First Nations communities to ensure that their input was incorporated into EGD’s work on the project.

As a result of HWN’s input, EGD took measures, including the use of horizontal directional drilling (HDD), to minimize any impact on these archaeological sites. Because we understand that archaeological sites have importance spiritual and cultural significance for Aboriginal communities, EGD also extended the opportunity to HWN and the other First Nations to hire experts to analyze the archeological findings in the area, and to discuss ways to protect the sites.

Western Region Aboriginal Engagement

We continually engage with over 25 First Nation and Métis communities in our Western Region regarding our projects. Although the Alberta government does not currently require us to consult with the Métis communities, we do so because we recognize that Métis communities may have Aboriginal Rights and, as such, we want to understand and respect their rights and traditional land uses.

Enbridge School Plus Program

In 2015, we gave grants totaling over $470,000 to 25 on-reserve schools in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario under our Enbridge School Plus Program (ESPP), which, for the last seven years, has provided financial support to First Nations schools for education enrichment programing. In addition, under ESPP, we gave grants totaling $80,000 to two urban Aboriginal partnerships:  the Enbridge Young Artists Project at the MacKenzie Art Gallery of Regina in Saskatchewan, and the Métis Child and Family Services’ Hot Lunch and Nutrition program in Edmonton, Alberta.

Since we created it in 2009, ESPP has provided more than $5 million in grants to support educational enrichment projects for Aboriginal school children in Canada.

Habitat for Humanity Partnerships

In 2015, as part of our Enbridge Aboriginal Home Program, we contributed $50,000 to an on-reserve Habitat for Humanity (H4H) build of a 10-unit elders lodge at the Flying Dust First Nation in Saskatchewan. The lodge will provide safe, affordable and sustainable housing for 10 of the community’s elders. It will also free up the houses that the elders had been living in for young families.

As part of our commitment to addressing Aboriginal housing needs, in 2015, we also:

  • partnered with H4H, Greystone, Mosaic, the City of Regina, the Province of Saskatchewan, and 200 local women (who had raised over $1,000 each) to build townhouses for three families in Habitat Plains, Regina,
  • partnered with H4H and the Portage Collegiate Institute’s Building Construction Trades students to build houses for three families in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba,
  • partnered with H4H, the Prairie Valley School Division and the Regina Trades & Skills Construction Apprenticeship Program to provide a house to a family in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan,
  • partnered with H4H to provide a house to a family in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan (under the direction of various tradespersons, inmates from the Willow Cree Healing Lodge built the house—receiving valuable trades training in the process—as part of a Memorandum of Understanding between Corrections Canada and H4H), and
  • donated $25,000 each to two Metis settlements in Alberta—the Gift Lake Metis Settlement and the East Prairie Metis Settlement—for house building projects that our employees helped with.

Aboriginal Community Investment

In 2015, we funded $126,000 worth of Aboriginal scholarships and bursaries that benefited 55 students in various educational institutions across Canada. We also provided $15,000 to the Amiskwaciy Academy, an Aboriginal cultural school in Edmonton, Alberta, so that it could construct a garden for traditional and medicinal plans. The school’s elder will use the plants in ceremonies, and the school will use the garden as an outdoor classroom to enhance their cultural, science, trades, and entrepreneurial curriculum.

In addition, we provided $200,000 to 23 organizations in Aboriginal communities in the Athabasca region of Alberta for events and programming.  Among the organizations that benefitted was the Blue Quills University Cree Language Program, to which we donated $20,000. Others were the Lac La Biche Friendship Centre and the Fort McMurray Friendship Centre, to which we donated funding to support financial literacy workshops.

Also in 2015, we provided over $800,000 in community development funding to Aboriginal communities across Canada in support of initiatives such as new and improved infrastructure projects. We understand that the communities themselves are in the best position to identify their needs and, on a case-by-case basis, we leave it to them to allocate the funding as they see fit.

Our Work with Native American Communities in the U.S. to Create Opportunities

Line 3 Replacement Program (U.S.) and Sandpiper Pipeline Project Engagement

In 2015, we worked with representatives of the White Earth and Mille Lacs Bands in Minnesota to address their concerns regarding our Sandpiper Pipeline project and Line 3 Replacement program (L3RP) in the U.S. Both White Earth and Mille Lacs are formal intervenors in the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s regulatory process concerning the two projects, and are concerned about the wild rice in the ceded territory that would be crossed by the two projects. In an effort to address their concerns, we met with representatives of the two bands to discuss the projects’ route and agreed to move it such that it is farther away from the areas of concern.

In May, we hosted a listening session in Carlton, Minnesota, to which we and invited representatives from the Leech Lake, Fond du Lac, White Earth, Red Cliff and Bad River Bands, and at which we listened to band members’ concerns and thoughts about our operations and proposed projects, and gained insights on how to create shared value with them.

In November, we hosted a wild rice engagement session, which included cultural awareness training as well as a presentation on the history of wild rice in Minnesota. At the session, we learned about Ojibwe culture and the significance of wild rice to Native Americans, and discussed how we can best engage with the Minnesota bands.

U.S. Mainline

Each year, we send public awareness mailings and engage in emergency responder outreach with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa along our U.S. Mainline. We also regularly discuss operations and maintenance activities with representatives from these bands.

In addition, we communicate with the Fond du Lac and Leech Lake Tribes to monitor various environmental issues. For example, we are regularly in touch with the Leech Lake Division of Natural Resources to review and discuss samples from monitoring wells at the Cass Lake Station, at which a pipeline leak had occurred.

Line 5 Engagement

In addition to our annual engagement activities, we are involved in ongoing discussions with the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin regarding the renegotiation of an easement agreement for our Line 5. In September 2015, band members asked us to give them detailed information on the fitness of Line 5, our maintenance plans for it, and our emergency response capabilities should an incident occur. We shared the information and met in person with band representatives. We are currently waiting to discuss next steps.

Red Lake Land Claim

After several years of working with the Red Lake Indian Band in Minnesota, in 2015, we negotiated a settlement agreement that will resolve the band’s claim to a small land parcel near Leonard, Minnesota. The U.S. Department of the Interior had returned the land to the band in the mid 1940s, but had not formally registered its return until the mid 1990s.  In the interim, Lakehead Pipeline Company, Inc. (an Enbridge company) had constructed pipelines through the land, believing at the time that it had legally obtained the rights to do so from the proper owner.  In 2008, the band’s ownership of the land was clearly established, and we began negotiating a resolution. The 2015 settlement includes a monetary payment and a land swap.