As an early leader within the energy industry, TC Energy has engaged with Indigenous groups for more than 40 years. We recognize the importance of Indigenous rightsholders’ voices and their participation in the work we do and are committed to working with Indigenous communities to support their priorities.
Part of fulfilling this commitment comes from working with Indigenous businesses in the execution of our projects and operational activities, and in community-led reconciliation initiatives.
What started as a creative idea ended in lasting impacts for Indigenous groups near the Brewster section of the 2021 NGTL System Expansion Project.
Last year, an unprecedented collaboration was formed between a local business, Pidherney’s, an Indigenous-owned business, Mur-Cal Services, and the O’Chiese First Nation (OCFN) to manage the final clean-up and land restoration of the project site near Rocky Mountain House, Alta. After going through a competitive sourcing process, led by the project’s Indigenous-owned prime contractor Steel River SICIM Pipeline Ltd. (SRSP), for the first time at TC Energy an Indigenous collaboration was awarded this scope of work.
TC Energy Project Manager, Stephen Bjarnason, says this was an opportunity to reiterate our commitment to having increased Indigenous participation on our projects. “Typically, the prime contractor will complete the final clean-up scope on a project," explains Stephen, “but in this case, alongside the prime contractor SRSP, we identified a unique opportunity to do something different by providing other Indigenous groups an opportunity to be involved with this work in a meaningful way.”
For OCFN, whose land the project is near, this was an exciting opportunity to collaborate with other Indigenous groups while continuing to strengthen their own growing relationship with TC Energy.
Bill Lowry of the O’Chiese First Nation Business and Investment Center played an instrumental role in acquiring this opportunity for the Nation. He shared how the project’s success had a deep impact on the community. “This project was about more than just getting a job done, it was about bringing people together to benefit the local communities, businesses, and economy. We learned a lot working with TC Energy and are extremely proud to have been involved in the success of this project.”
The project’s final clean-up scope involved extensive hours of hard work and expertise about sensitive habitats, water crossings and completing work safely near a newly installed and operating pipeline. A key aspect of final clean-up is returning the land as close to its original state as possible, known as reclamation. This process was especially important to OCFN as community members were able to play a meaningful role in restoring the land.
“This endeavor provided the O’Chiese First Nation an opportunity to be an integral part of a large-scale project,” states Chief Douglas Beaverbones of the O’Chiese First Nation. “To be able to put the land back to its original state and utilize our community members is very fulfilling. We are extremely proud of the success and hard work put into making this happen.”
The clean-up project was successfully completed on-time and on-budget in Fall 2022, setting the stage for similar Indigenous participation opportunities in the future.
SRSP Construction Project Manager, Sean Kupchanko, notes that based off the success of this project they would look to engage in similar collaborations on future work. “The crews were great to work with and very eager to take advice and complete a successful job,” shared Sean. “Based on the success of this project there is no question we would look to perform similar activities in the future and open up more opportunities for Indigenous groups.”
Pidherney’s and Mur-cal Services also hope to continue working with TC Energy and are enthusiastic about attaining future opportunities of this scope.
“This was a great opportunity for us and the O’Chiese First Nation to further diversify and provide growth for our businesses and communities,” shared Wendall Mason, an Oilfield Manager at Pidherney’s. “I believe there will be many more opportunities to work with TC Energy where we can continue to develop this successful relationship.”
“The collaboration was not only an initial success, but it also creates a new avenue for the prime contractors and TC Energy for strategic planning alternatives (equipment and personnel) as well as increasing Indigenous project participation,” says Darcy Freisen of Mur-Cal Services.
TC Energy is proud of the relationships we’ve built with Indigenous groups and this project serves as a reminder that the collaboration between our business and Indigenous groups is essential to bringing North America the energy it needs safely and reliably every day. We look forward to more exciting collaborations in the future.
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