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Jun 17 2019

First Nation member highlights success of construction participation program

Posted by TC Energy

Aboriginal Construction Participation Program (ACPP)

When Gary Calliou of Kelly Lake Cree Nation was asked to represent his community in the Aboriginal Construction Participation Program (ACPP) on the 2017 NGTL System Expansion Project in Alberta, he didn’t think twice. Gary, who had some previous pipeline experience, decided to leave his job at the time and take advantage of the opportunity.

“I am always looking for different roles and opportunities and know how valuable programs like these are for communities,” says Gary. “I had a good feeling about this one and I felt like it would be a positive step forward for me.”

Gary Calliou - Kelly Lake Cree Nation

For six weeks, Gary and three other Aboriginal Community Participants, along with an ACPP Coordinator, observed construction and environmental activities on the project. They talked with project representatives on site to better understand construction and environmental protection and discussed any questions or concerns that he or the rest of the ACPP crew had. This included going through the Environmental Protection Plan (EPP) and associated Environmental Alignment Sheets to ensure all commitments were met, including the mitigation measures and construction practices for protecting the environment. The participants then prepared reports of their findings, including locations observed, site conditions, photos and any potential concerns or required actions to send back to their communities, increasing their understanding of how TC Energy builds pipelines.

I really got a chance to take a good look at the EPP, the amount of work that’s involved in putting it together and the important role it plays in construction. I can say nothing was taken for granted. I found that TC Energy really follows their EPPs to a T and works hard to listen to and address community concerns.

Gary Calliou
Kelly Lake Cree Nation

A stepping stone

Following Gary’s stint as an ACPP Participant on the 2017 project, he was selected by his band to receive funding support from TC Energy and completed a Pipeline Monitoring Certificate at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). Soon after, Gary was offered a job as an ACPP Coordinator on B.C.'s North Montney Project, which is currently under construction.

“I emailed my contact Vanessa to thank her for having me as part of the ACPP and she mentioned that there may be another potential opportunity available,” says Gary. “I am really fortunate that she took a gamble on me and gave me a chance.”

Gary says his next role was slightly different than his ACPP Participant role as he was the ‘eyes and ears’ of the program and his responsibility was to teach and guide other community participants and be the link between his crew and the construction crew.

“I really tried to create a learning experience for the participants and tie in how all the work we were doing has a purpose,” says Gary. “The end result is having a pipeline in place that is structurally sound and having the environment put back in the same or better place than it was when we arrived.”

Gary’s eight-month role as ACPP Coordinator wrapped up at the end of March and he’s currently working to complete his Pipeline Operations Certificate through SAIT.

This is a great success story for Gary and for us. Watching someone like Gary go from being a Participant to a Coordinator shows that this program is successful in both engaging Indigenous groups in the work we do and also fostering an interest and a career for these people.”

Vanessa Vredenburg
ACPP Lead at TC Energy

Building trust

Beyond just fulfilling a regulatory requirement, the ACPP is an opportunity for TC Energy to enable Indigenous groups to see first-hand how we construct a pipeline and implement mitigations to address their concerns and share their findings and observations with their communities.

“Having Indigenous representatives out on our projects shows that we have nothing to hide, we take extreme pride in the work that we do, and we are stewards of the land,” says Vanessa. “In my experience, by the end of the ACPP, the Indigenous representatives also feel pride in the work we are doing as they have been part of the team ensuring that we maintain our high standards.”

So, what’s next for Gary?

“If another opportunity came up at TC Energy, I would jump on it with two feet,” says Gary. TC Energy is currently working with Gary on another opportunity to work as an ACPP Coordinator on an upcoming project in B.C.