Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project Creates Concern for Indigenous Community

Enrbidge Reports All of the Workers on the Line 3 Replacement Project Have Gone Through Extensive Human Trafficking Awareness Training

CARLTON COUNTY, Minn. – After six years of work to acquire the proper permitting, ground broke on the highly controversial Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project in Dec. of 2020.

Of the total 1,100 miles, a stretch roughly 340 miles long will run through Minnesota.

Enbridge has conducted many hours of training with more than 5,000 workers on the project, but those in resistance have continued concern moving forward.

Protesters of the project continue to host disturbances at work sites, with the hope of having their voices heard to stop the project from being constructed.

Aside from environmental concerns, many members of the Indigenous community also fear for the physical safety of their fellow residents.

“We want them to know that we’re watching them too,” said Taysha Martineau, a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Persistence is key for those protesting construction of the Line 3 pipeline replacement project.

“When you’re performing acts against Mother Earth, there are spiritual repercussions against that,” said Martineau.

For Martineau, it’s about more than just protecting the pristine waters and natural beauty provided by Mother Earth.

“When you get a large number of out-of-state workers within communities such as this that are already struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism, that money is like a beacon,” said Martineau.

According to Minnesota’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, American Indian women and girls represent one percent of the state’s population, but in 2020, accounted for eight percent of murdered women and girls in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

“By the age of 15, 70 percent of indigenous women have been raped, assaulted, are groomed by someone who is involved in the sex trafficking industry,” said Martineau.

One of her many concerns is with the unionized workers being brought in to construct the replacement of Line 3. According to Enbridge, nine percent of the workforce comes from tribal nations.

“I don’t believe that all of these men out here are bad men, but it’s that money that draws in that darkness,” said Martineau.

Barry Simonson is the project director for Line 3 and takes safety very seriously.

“We have a very robust training program and it starts with safety, the environment, quality, cultural awareness, and human trafficking,” said Simonson. “We’re part of the community and we want to make sure we’re not only keeping our workers safe but the community safe that we’re working in.”

Simonson says Enbridge has conducted human trafficking awareness training with every employee on the project.

“The workforce we have is very committed, as well as our employees to make sure we’re respectably doing everything,” said Simonson.

Through the training, workers were taught to understand what the risks are of working in and around indigenous communities, to be aware of and report any suspicious activity.

“We did conduct a traditional archeological survey on the project for the entire route as well as route alternatives, and what we also did is had a tribal culture survey that was managed by the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa across the entire project,” said Simonson.

Enbridge says it’s taken every precaution possible to avoid controversial construction on indigenous lands.

“We had two surveys from a cultural perspective that was very comprehensive and collaborative which went into the environmental impact statement,” said Simonson.

He says the results of the surveys played a role in making specific route modifications to avoid impacting Native American lands. But those in opposition still aren’t pleased with the corrections made to the course.

“If it leaks it will leak into White Earth and it will affect all of the water in White Earth as well,” said Alex Golden-Wolf, a member of White Earth Nation. “If the pipeline leaks, it will affect the wild rice beds we have over there. There are thousands of wild rice beds over there.”

The White Earth Reservation is located in Becker, Clearwater, and Mahnomen counties in north-central Minnesota.

“If it breaks it’ll affect all of White Earth, not just a section of it,” said Golden-Wolf.

The current route of the replacement project runs just 10 miles north of her reservation’s line.

“My hope and my goals are to show that I stand for the water, that I’m a water defender and earth protector,” said Golden-Wolf.

While White Earth Nation won’t see the pipeline built on its sovereign lands, Golden-Wolf is concerned for her fellow Anishinaabe on the Fond du Lac Reservation.

“You shouldn’t be scared to come out to the frontline and defend that water and the land. I think everybody should come out and help defend the water and the land,” said Golden-Wolf.

In 2018, Enbridge and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa agreed upon an attractive offer to have the new Line 3 run directly through the reservation, allowing for some control moving forward.

“The existing Line 3, throughout its lifespan, has deteriorated in terms of corrosion and the need for intense maintenance on the project,” said Simonson.

While hundreds continue to object to the construction, Enbridge remains committed to providing hundreds of jobs as it works to safely, and swiftly finish this last, large stretch of the highly controversial project.

“I’m angry, and I’m hurt, and I’m going to speak to that,” said Martineau.

Simonson says with the new, state-of-the-art pipeline, preventative maintenance, and robust monitoring moving forward, they expect a successful future once the replacement project is complete.

Enbridge has a goal of finishing the Minnesota portion of the project by the end of 2021.

Click here for a full review of the permits obtained by Enbridge for the Line 3 Replacement Project.

Click here to watch Part One of Brett Scott’s Special Report on the progress and push back of the Line 3 Replacement Project.

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