June 16, 2021 — Highlighting best practices for their Expansion Project, Trans Mountain has an active group of Indigenous Monitors working on the ground during construction across the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
Trans Mountain’s Indigenous Monitor Program was developed as a result of extensive Indigenous engagement that began in 2012 as part of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and the ongoing relationships established with many Indigenous groups along the pipeline corridor. The Indigenous Monitor Program ensures Trans Mountain meets it commitments to Indigenous group involvement in environmental and cultural monitoring during construction.
Indigenous Monitors work as an integrated part of the Expansion Project Environmental Inspection team. They monitor compliance with approved mitigation measures intended to minimize impacts to traditional resource use, cultural heritage sites and the environment during construction. Indigenous Monitors bring an Indigenous lens to daily environmental inspection activities.
“Integration is really important for us. We help build bridges between our communities and Trans Mountain,” says Lynn Cook, Indigenous Monitor and member of the Semiahmoo First Nation. “We are the eyes and the ears of the communities, and to be able to share those learnings and findings is important for us. Our opinions and our thoughts matter, and we bring that back to our communities, so they are a part of it as well.”
Environmental stewardship is not solely about the physical aspects of land; it is also about respecting traditional and continued use of the landscape. By working together with Indigenous Monitors, we support the ongoing incorporation of Indigenous perspectives and traditional knowledge directly and pragmatically into on-the-ground construction oversight, particularly in relation to aspects of the landscape that have traditional and cultural use and value.
Indigenous Monitors are directly involved with monitoring the implementation of mitigation for the known traditional land use and heritage resources sites that have emerged from years of pre-construction baseline studies and other information sharing. Indigenous Monitors also support the contingency process in the event that previously unidentified traditional or cultural features are identified as construction progresses. Traditional use includes access to various resources within an Indigenous group’s respective traditional territory, including land, water and vegetation, for use by community members. Cultural heritage resources refer to objects, sites or locations of cultural, historical or archaeological significance to Indigenous groups and Canada.
“Indigenous Monitors are essential and integrated members of our construction environmental inspection team. Integration enables efficient knowledge transfer between all members of the team, whether they work in environment or construction crews. It also provides opportunities for Indigenous Monitors to develop experience and transferable skills related to environmental inspection and monitoring they can use after the Project is over,” said Sean Britt, Director of Environment, Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
As of June 2021, more than 45 Indigenous Monitors are working as part of the Environmental Inspection team on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
Trans Mountain is committed to working in cooperation with all Indigenous communities within whose territories we operate. Our goal is to build and sustain effective relationships based on mutual respect, trust and shared prosperity.