Indigenous Monitors Share Knowledge

The wind whipped across the prairie field under the bright sun. Exactly what you expect for a summer day in Manitoba. Four people pulled up in the rented SUV and stepped out. Two were inspectors from the federal pipeline regulator, now known as the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). The other two represented Peguis First Nation and Manitoba Métis Federation, there as Indigenous monitors.

They had arrived at their destination: a farmer’s field in Treaty 2 Territory. It was also the location of the federally regulated pipeline they were there to inspect.

The inspection focused on making sure the company was following the rules for protecting the environment. The federal inspectors had been trained to look for things that could be improved and find a way to correct them before something went wrong.

The monitors were also there to inspect the work being done. Their role was to provide insights into the land that someone without Indigenous knowledge and cultural background might not have.

While the Indigenous monitors were there to share their expertise, they were sharing something else too.

“Working with the monitors has helped me look at things from a new perspective,” says Andria, one the CER’s environmental inspectors.

Andria is a professional biologist, a certified inspection officer and has worked for the federal regulator for over five years.

“The monitors have so much local knowledge about flora and fauna. They have taught me things about local ecosystems I would likely have never learned otherwise.”

Thanks to this partnership forged with Indigenous monitors, inspectors like Andria are learning to view their work from a different perspective. And that makes things better for everyone.

Between August 2018 and January 2019, Indigenous monitors accompanied our inspection officers and shared their knowledge with us on 35 inspections: one in Alberta, nine in Saskatchewan, and 14 in Manitoba. Indigenous monitors are already in place for the Line 3 and Trans Mountain Expansion projects.

The CER supports Government efforts to advance Indigenous reconciliation. We will be exploring ways to involve Indigenous communities in the full lifecycle of energy infrastructure projects and integrating Indigenous knowledge, values and perspectives into our project oversight.

Here are some other ways we are changing how we work with Indigenous Peoples.

  • We are meeting with Indigenous communities earlier on who may be impacted by projects we regulate. This will help us better understand their concerns and share how the CER holds companies accountable for the protection of Indigenous rights and interests.
  • We are developing a National Indigenous Monitoring Policy so that CER-regulated infrastructure projects can benefit from Indigenous knowledge when they are being built and operated.
  • We are training our employees to understand more about Indigenous history, culture and contemporary issues facing Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
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