Aboriginal Rights

Topics of Importance Aboriginal & Native American Rights & Engagement

Management Approach

Our approach to Aboriginal engagement is based on our Aboriginal and Native American Policy and is demonstrated by our recognition of our need to establish long-term relationships and greater collaboration with Aboriginal and Native American communities. We have translated our policy into Cree and are in the process of translating it into other Aboriginal languages, including Nakota, Dakota, Michif and Blackfoot.

Our policy identifies the methods by which we develop mutually beneficial relations with Aboriginal and Native American communities in proximity to our projects and operations. It also outlines the key principles that guide our Aboriginal and Native American relations:

  • respect for legal rights and for traditional ways and knowledge,
  • respect for heritage sites, land and the environment,
  • forthright and sincere consultation regarding our projects and operations, and
  • achievement of sustainable benefits for communities arising from our projects and operations.

As part of our engagement strategy, we identified the following focus areas to create opportunities aligned with the aspirations of Aboriginal and Native American communities:

  • building relationships through consultation and engagement with the Aboriginal and Native American communities near our construction and operating areas,
  • creating partnerships to support investment in Aboriginal and Native American communities,
  • supporting employment and training programs, and
  • facilitating Aboriginal and Native American business and economic opportunities.

As we develop projects, we adapt our consultation and engagement strategies to address specific activities associated with our work. We consider who may be affected by the project or subsequent operations and tailor our approach to meet specific individual community needs.

Where a project requires an environmental and social impact assessment, we provide full disclosure of the results of those assessments in the regulatory hearings and in the publicly available documentation.

In 2015, we began a process to review and update our Aboriginal and Native American Policy and to develop a new Indigenous engagement framework that will help us evolve the way we engage and maintain our long-term relationships with Indigenous communities.


In Canada, our Aboriginal engagement activities are based on:

  • meeting the regulatory requirements of the duty to consult, as delegated by the Crown (provincial and federal governments),
  • ensuring we understand how our activities may impact constitutionally protected rights,
  • demonstrating that we consider and understand the potential impacts on communities, and working with communities to mitigate those impacts and resolve issues or concerns,
  • earning social acceptance through community support and by addressing community issues, and
  • finding opportunities for Aboriginal communities to be involved in, and benefit from, our projects and operations.

We believe that our engagement activities create shared value through economic participation and community investments, demonstrate our support for the communities involved and provide tangible benefits.


In the U.S., our Native American engagement is informed by two levels of engagement.

Our Tier One engagements are with Native American tribes whose reservation lands are directly crossed by our pipelines. Out goal is to have regular communications with these tribes through our emergency response and preparedness programs and our Public Awareness Program.

We consult with these tribes’ Tribal Employment Resource Ordinance Offices (TERO) to facilitate the employment of tribal members on various work crews. We also work collaboratively with them to find opportunities to train and employ tribal members.

For our new projects, we engage with tribes to negotiate agreements that allow us to cross their land. We engage them through face-to-face and small group meetings, and through written communications. We also send them project details and information through our Public Awareness Program.

Our Tier Two engagements are with Native American tribes who lay claim to ceded territories that our pipelines cross. In the past, we engaged with these tribes pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, a federal government-led consultation program. However, in Minnesota, we have begun our own outreach with tribes that are active participants in the Minnesota regulatory process. We are engaging with these tribes to further our shared interest in protecting the environment.

Human Rights

Our Statement on Business Conduct contains provisions that support the protection of human rights and freedoms within our sphere of influence, and we consistently and rigorously strive to uphold the highest human rights standards in all of our work.

The Canadian Constitution recognizes Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and provides constitutional protection of their Aboriginal and treaty rights. As such, the Crown (the federal and provincial governments) recognizes that Aboriginal groups are separate and distinct from other stakeholders.

In Canada, the Crown has an obligation to consult with Aboriginal communities if a government decision has the potential to adversely impact a constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty right. The Crown may decide to delegate the procedural aspects of its consultation obligation to project proponents such as Enbridge. When the Crown makes this decision to delegate, project proponents must conduct their consultations as part of the regulatory process, and must take into consideration Aboriginal groups’ distinct nature and interests.

In the U.S., as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the federal government must consult with recognized Native American tribes and other designated agencies on projects that have the potential to adversely affect historic properties. Under federal law, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs must grant a right-of-way before a company can proceed with construction on any Indian reservation; on any lands that are being held in trust for a tribe, band or individual Indian; or on any lands held by individual Indians or Indian tribes or bands that are subject to restraints against alienation. For more information, please see the Business Conduct & Ethics and Employee Relations sections of this report.

Consultation and Community Engagement

We recognize and honor Aboriginal and Native American communities' close relationship with the land and the environment. We are also committed to socially responsible activities, and to involving the communities where we live and work. For these reasons, we undertake transparent and meaningful consultations with Aboriginal and Native American peoples and communities regarding our projects and operations. Our consultation activities are guided by our Aboriginal and Native American Policy and comply with all guidelines established by applicable regulatory bodies.

We understand the importance of engaging early and often with Aboriginal and Native American communities for any given project. Our goal is always to learn as much as possible about the underlying social, economic, political and environmental conditions of the individuals and communities in question, and to understand their expectations, interests and concerns. To that end, as we expand our understanding, we adapt our engagement plans and practices to address the specific needs and concerns of the individual communities as best we can for all of our projects.

In Alberta, Aboriginal communities can submit formal grievances regarding our projects to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) through Statements of Concern (SoC). While we must follow a formal process to address any SoCs that have been submitted, we also invite communities that have made submissions to meet with us—or to submit concerns directly to us—so that we can better understand them.

In some cases—whether an SoC has been submitted or not—we enter into formal agreements with communities to provide extra assurances regarding community support, environmental protection or community involvement in project construction through employment opportunities. In cases where a community’s concerns pertain to the cumulative effects of development, we provide information about the steps we have taken to minimize these effects, such as following an existing right-of way. In cases where concerns pertain to the environment, we share our environmental protection plans. When these steps do not resolve the concerns, we meet with the community to discuss additional actions that we could take.

Economic Participation

We are committed to providing economic opportunities to Aboriginal and Native American businesses, contractors and suppliers by identifying business opportunities and employment capacity; working with them to implement training programs that will increase their access to project-related employment opportunities; helping local businesses complete our pre-qualification process and comply with our vendor certification systems; and, informing our general contractors of the local capacity to provide ancillary services.

We recognize that hiring Aboriginal and Native American businesses and contractors, and buying from Aboriginal and Native American suppliers, supports local employment, gives us the opportunity to understand available services and talent, and helps us build trust and maintain our social license to operate. We also recognize the important contribution these businesses, contractors and suppliers make each year to the overall economy, and have a long history of working with them. In 2015, we spent more than $63 million in Canada on procuring goods and services from them.

As part of our commitment to providing economic opportunities, we set aside contracting opportunities for qualified Aboriginal and Native American businesses, contractors and suppliers in specific project areas. We also encourage collaborative opportunities between Aboriginal businesses and non-Aboriginal businesses when the collaboration builds capacity and supports mutual interests.

Also as part of our commitment, in 2015, we embedded Aboriginal and Native American business development specialists into our Liquids Pipelines/Major Projects Supply Chain Management team to facilitate greater participation of Aboriginal-owned businesses in our projects and operations.

Community Partnerships

We partner with and support Aboriginal and Native American communities near our projects and operational rights-of-way. We share our prosperity with these communities through community investments, and through partnership and volunteer initiatives that support community organizations that share our commitment to making communities better places to live.

Aboriginal and Native American community members tell us that they want their children to have better educational opportunities so they can be successful beyond the scope of our operations. For that reason, education, scholarships, skills-development training, leadership and management training are vital components of our community partnerships with them.


In August 2015, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), which certifies companies’ Aboriginal engagement performance at the bronze, silver and gold levels, recertified us at the “silver” level under its Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program. CCAB’s recertification, which we must apply for every three years, signalled to Aboriginal communities that we are a good business partner, a good place to work, and committed to Aboriginal prosperity. When granting our recertification, CCAB noted that we had substantially improved our Aboriginal policies, strategies, plans and processes since our original 2012 certification, and that we are a best-practices organization in the field of Aboriginal Relations.