The CER’s Indigenous Monitoring Program for the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd (NGTL) system
The CER is deeply committed to Reconciliation and the meaningful involvement of Indigenous People in our compliance and oversight activities. In support of this commitment, the CER launched an Indigenous Monitoring Program for the NGTL system (CER NGTL IM Program). The program applies to the entire NGTL pipeline system, including oversight of the approved NGTL 2021 System Expansion Project (NGTL 2021 Expansion), North Corridor Expansion Project (North Corridor) and Edson Mainline Expansion Project (Edson Mainline). More NGTL Projects may be included in the future, pending Governor in Council approval. A map of NGTL’s major pipeline projects that have been approved or are under review is below.
Figure 1: Map of NGTL Major Projects: Approved and Under Review
Description: This is a map of NGTL’s major pipeline projects that have been approved or are under review.
The CER's NGTL IM Program Framework
The CER's NGTL IM Program builds upon the best practices, successes, and lessons learned from the monitoring programs developed under the federal government’s Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee (IAMC) initiative for the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) Project and Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Program, as well as the CER’s Indigenous Monitoring Program established for the Keystone XL project.
Role of the Indigenous Monitors on the Inspection Team
The role of the Indigenous Monitors was co-developed by the CER and Indigenous Advisors that are part of the TMX and Enbridge Line 3 IAMCs.
In brief, the role of Indigenous Monitors includes:
- Informing the scope of the CER’s inspections;
- Working alongside CER Inspection Officers during inspections to verify that companies are protecting the environment, including sites that are of significant interest to Indigenous Peoples; and,
- Writing observations for the CER’s inspection reports.
Many Indigenous Monitors go further, sharing their knowledge and experiences with their Inspection Officer colleagues, and speaking with Elders or community members before or after inspections and providing advice to CER leadership.
Read first-hand the impact of Indigenous Monitors on the CER’s oversight activities in the CER’s feature update: Indigenous Monitors enhance CER activities.
Description: Indigenous Monitors on inspection observed and communicated a harvesting opportunity for local communities.
Compliance Verification Activities and Reports
Following a field inspection, the inspection team completes an inspection report. These reports include observations by both the Indigenous Monitors and the CER Inspection Officers. All previous inspection reports can be found here CER Inspection Reports.
Indigenous Monitor Training Program
Indigenous Monitors that join the CER's NGTL IM Program come from a variety of backgrounds. They bring their knowledge and skills obtained from their time on the land and passed down from elders and knowledge keepers. Some monitors also have education in environmental and safety monitoring, and prior experience working on energy projects.
Training for NGTL IMs include:
- Occupational Health and Safety certificates necessary to work safely around pipeline construction.
- CER-specific training on conducting compliance activities, such as field inspections. These CER-specific training sessions are an opportunity for Indigenous Monitors and CER Inspection Officers to meet, share information, and learn from each other. The IM Employers may contribute to the CER-organized training sessions by presenting specific topics and leading discussions.
- Employers may conduct employer-led training for the IMs. For example, Ermineskin Creek Nation coordinated a field training event for monitors working on NGTL and TMX programs, where Elders and Traditionalists shared teachings related to Culturally Modified Trees and other plants in the area.
Description: the photo above shows an example of a culturally modified tree that was viewed during a training event organized by Ermineskin Cree Nation for Indigenous Monitors working on NGTL and TMX programs. There are many types of CMTs, different species, markings and purposes. This photo, of a birch tree with a noticeable dark strip where the bark has been removed, was endorsed by our IM Partners at ECN.
NGTL IM Program Phase I
In early 2021, the CER signed contracts with six Indigenous businesses for Indigenous monitoring services on NGTL 2021 for the first year of construction. The communities involved in the initial phase of the monitoring program are listed in the table below.
Table 1: List of Indigenous Communities involved in Phase I of the CER's NGTL IM Program
Alexander First NationTable Note a
Ermineskin Cree Nation
Lac Ste Anne Métis Community Association
Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3
Montana First Nation
Sucker Creek First Nation
Indigenous Monitors from these communities have played an essential role in all environment and safety inspections conducted jointly with the CER for NGTL projects in 2021 and early 2022.
Overview and Feedback from Phase I
During Phase I, Indigenous Monitors participated in 17 field inspections and 3 compliance verification meetings. There were 38 non-compliance identified by the inspection teams. The IMs provided valuable perspective during these CVAs. Some of the highlights for the inspection teams were:
- Discussions with local Elders before/during the inspection activities that raised awareness of what areas and processes to inspect;
- Productive meetings with participants in NGTL’s Aboriginal Construction Participation Program (ACPP), including discussions of chance finds and related mitigations; and
Identification of potential non-compliances that complemented the expertise of the Inspection Officers.
Reflections on Phase I
The CER sought feedback from our Indigenous Monitoring partners, and here’s what we heard:
Table 2: Quotes from IM Employers in Phase I
We developed good relationships with the CER coordinators and inspectors, who are respectful and culturally-aware. These programs are great experience for our Indigenous Monitors. Having our monitors participate in field inspections is important to ECN, while noting that our IMs’ observations are project-specific.
Lac Ste Anne Métis’ participation in the CER’s NGTL IM Program has been a rewarding experience, supported through a high level of organization and open communication that has helped to make the program successful. The CER facilitated training sessions with all participants, and also supported community-led training, both key to building Indigenous Monitoring capacity.
Being a part of the CER’s inspections is rewarding experience for our IM, who gains a lot of knowledge and perspective on every inspection. Our IM valued the meetings with ACPP participants to discuss their role in the environment protection and pipeline construction activities – they were very knowledgeable and willing to share their wisdom.
Participation in the CER’s NGTL IM Program has been a very positive experience – a rare occurrence where I don’t have any negative comments. The communications prior to inspections and the tools and guidance for completing invoices were consistent and effective. Montana First Nation now has a higher capacity to seek out and conduct Indigenous monitoring work.
SCFN has two experienced Indigenous Monitors who appreciated the opportunity to participate in the CER’s inspections on NGTL. One of their highlights was working with another IM to identify opportunities for NGTL to conduct community engagement when medicinal plants are found on the right-of-way. The CER provided great support throughout the program, including with contract administration and communication around inspections (some of which were cancelled).
The IM Employers also shared their views on areas where the CER can improve its IM Program and the CER is committed to continuously improve how we work together through the IM program.
Phase I Budget
The CER’s NGTL IM Program has been funded with the CER’s operational budget. Total payments for Indigenous Monitoring services (including wages, honoraria, travel, training and equipment expenses) in Phase I were $416, 000.
NGTL IM Program Phase II
In October 2021, the CER published a ’Request for Information’ (RFI) for involvement in Phase II on Canada Buy and Sell and distributed the RFI to 86 Indigenous communities. All of these communities were invited to participate in any of three information sessions in early November to discuss the Phase II process. Twenty communities participated across the three sessions.
Following the information sessions, the CER launched a public ‘Request for Standing Offers’ (RFSO) process. The CER received three bids and has completed standing offers with all three vendors. The standing offers are for Indigenous Monitoring services for safety and environment field inspections, and for emergency management activities for approximately the next 3 years. The communities involved in Phase II of the CER’s NGTL IM Program are listed in the table below.
Table 3: List of Indigenous Communities involved in Phase II of the CER's NGTL IM Program
Lac Ste Anne Métis Community Association
Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3
Montana First Nation
For any questions on the CER's NGTL Indigenous Monitoring Program, please get in touch with the Director of the Environmental Protection team, Marc Pauze at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Figure 4 : NGTL IM Program Logo
Description: The graphic above shows the CER's NGTL Indigenous Monitoring Program as a partnership between the Canada Energy Regulator and multiple First Nations and Métis organizations in Alberta.
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