Alberta First Nations to reinforce pipeline observation

Another program underway at Alberta’s innovative work agency intends to enhance pipeline monitoring and spill reaction by enlisting more Indigenous individuals.

A huge number of kilometers of oil and gas channels criss-cross the territory, numerous in remote regions close to the homes of First Nations and Métis individuals.

Ecologist Shauna-Lee Chai is planning to get some traction for a feasibility study in the coming months into Indigenous checking.

“We thought that this made perfect sense just because Indigenous people have strong ties to the land,” said Chai, who is with InnoTech Alberta, a subsidiary of the Crown corporation Alberta Innovates.

“They’re often boots on the ground. They spend a good part of their day, many of them, practicing their traditional rites: hunting, fishing, collecting berries and medicines.”

InnoTech expects the main period of a possibility study would incorporate audits of existing industry practices and training programs, the plan of a “pipeline monitoring 101” program and a market study to decide work potential for learners.

The following stage could include preparing 10 to 15 Indigenous individuals from no less than three groups.

“If we could reduce the response time in people finding these leaks and affecting some sort of first response, I think that would go a far way,” said Chai, who added participants could be taught to use drones or sniffer dogs to help detect pipeline problems.

Byron Bates, a councilor with the Fort McMurray .468 First Nation, said getting Indigenous individuals more included sounds like a smart thought.

“If this is land that their families have lived on for thousands of years, they know the land better than anybody,” he said.

The community sees direct what can happen when something turns out badly with a close-by pipeline.

Be that as it may, Bates said benefits the industry has conveyed to the community can’t be expelled.

“If our First Nation had to live off the money we get from the federal government alone, we would be living in poverty.”

Treaty 6 Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild said he likewise prefers the InnoTechidea, given Indigenous individuals are regularly the first to be affected when catastrophe strikes.

It would likewise make utilization of a workforce needing opportunities, he included.

“If you look at the demographics, it’s very clear that we’re the biggest available pool just by age for labour skills,” he said.

“Many times the employment opportunities are given to outsiders. Our local availability and capacity is often overlooked in terms of employment opportunities.”

Jule Asterisk, environmental coalition Keepers of the Water, said she’s strengthened by the arrangement.

“Of course it’s always dependent on how it’s done and we’re hopeful that these programs will be able to be done in a respectful way,” she said.

Leanne Madder, a representative for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, said cooperating with Indigenous people is nothing new to the industry.

“Pipeline operators seek to establish long-term relationships with Indigenous communities. To build the foundation of this relationship, companies often help Indigenous communities develop the skills necessary to benefit from pipeline development while protecting the environment and their traditional way of life,” she said.

“Pipeline companies promote Indigenous employment in every way possible, whether through direct employment or through the contractors they work with.”


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