“We recognize there are concerns about potential social impacts at these sites,” reads a statement posted on the company’s website. “Coastal GasLink has heard those concerns and consulted with First Nations, government and other stakeholders. This feedback is carefully considered and these facilities are designed to the highest standard and will be operated to ensure safe communities.”
Coastal GasLink says contracts were awarded to northern Indigenous businesses, which partnered with camp providers for each site.
“Once on site, we will ensure that all workers are kept safe by providing around the clock security and medical services,” reads the statement. “Security service workers will ensure only approved people are allowed into the fenced area containing the temporary accommodations. In addition, separate living quarters, for men and women, with private washroom facilities will ensure privacy for our employees and contractors.”
The camps will provide on-site catering, laundry and recreational facilities.
“We have engaged with Indigenous and local communities to address various alcohol-related concerns and will continue to work with them throughout construction,” the company says. “Coastal GasLink has a zero-tolerance approach to the possession and use of illegal drugs or unacceptable behaviour, resulting from alcohol or drug consumption. Based on local feedback, our Site 9A workforce accommodation, south of Houston, will not have alcohol on site.”
Workforce accommodation, and the accompanying security compliment, is being delivered by Indigenous businesses from the communities along the right of way, it says.
“Working collaboratively with these Indigenous communities allows CGL to implement both site-specific safety measures, as well as delivering its project-wide safety program. For example, in the case of the Lejac Camp, as part of its Project Agreement with CGL, NadlehWhut’en First Nation requested that a camp be located on one of its Reserves. In the case of Camp 9A, near Houston and located 17 kilometres from what’s known as the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, the Wet’suwet’en First Nation through its business YLP-Civeo, is providing camps and camp support services to CGL.
“We are committed to addressing any concerns that may arise at these accommodation facilities and, for the first time, Coastal GasLink will be initiating an ‘Elder in Residence’ program at most sites.”
The Unist’ot’en (Dark House) however are opposed to the work camps, calling them ‘man camps,’ and are concerned they will result in violence towards Indigenous women.
“They create the social conditions for an increase of violence against Indigenous women and children,” reads a post on the Unist’ot’en Camp website. “The culture and work conditions of ‘man camps’ exacerbate isolation, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, misogyny, hyper-masculinity, and racism among the men living there.”
They say a work camp so close to their healing centre would compromise the work being done at the centre.
“Specifically, it would compromise the ‘container of safety’ we established by controlling access to our territory, keeping out violent or aggressive individuals and prohibiting drugs and alcohol,” it says. “A ‘man camp’ is highly likely to introduce influences that could re-traumatize or trigger past traumatic experiences among residents and cause further harm to the vulnerable residents of our Healing Center.”