Education + work ethic = career success

Enbridge Indigenous construction monitor knows the value of continuous learning

Jennifer Wolfe’s career in the pipeline industry, with Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Program, is progressing rather nicely. And a big reason for that is her continued passion for education.

Following training as an environmental monitor in February and March of 2016, Jennifer joined the L3RP as a Junior Aboriginal Construction Monitor with SGS Canada in south-central Saskatchewan, from August 2017 to February 2018.

“I learned the pipeline lingo pretty fast,” says Wolfe, who hails from nearby Muskowekwan First Nation, approximately 140 kilometers northeast of Regina.

With that initial experience under her belt, Jennifer chose to educate herself further by enrolling in a pipeline monitoring program at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary. She was one of 60 selected for the training from more than 200 applicants across Western Canada.

Now, she’s back with the L3RP, where her past work ethic and further education gained her a post as a Senior Aboriginal Construction Monitor.

In her new role, Jennifer supervises two junior monitors and is accountable for providing an Indigenous and environmental perspective to the construction team. She reports to the Indigenous Construction Liaison and spread construction manager.

“The monitors are a valued resource,” says Doug Rewega, the liaison for an L3RP construction spread that spans from west of Regina to east of Glenavon. “When our contractor (Banister Pipelines) is heading into a known area of cultural significance, the Enbridge construction specialists will reach out to Jennifer’s team to participate alongside archeologists, biologists, environmentalists and construction specialists.

“They monitor that activity from start to finish – as well as work in sensitive areas such as wetlands. It’s unique, hands-on work,” remarks Rewaga.

Adds Wolfe: “My favorite part of the job is when we go to known traditional sites and they disc through the ground. We’re there, sifting through the sand, trying to find artifacts—all of a sudden you’ll find a piece of pottery or something. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

While that doesn’t happen too frequently, she has found, among other artifacts, an arrowhead believed to be about 600 years old.

Beyond such interesting discoveries, Jennifer says the work of monitoring is important because “it helps build bridges with Indigenous communities, keeping them informed. Usually they don’t know at all what’s happening with the pipeline. But the more people that come to work on to the project, and learn about the monitoring position, that will open new doors and a lot more people will be joining.”

For herself, Wolfe is continuing to enhance her knowledge and broaden her education. She’s currently enrolled in a pipeline operator’s certificate program which would enable her to work on preventative maintenance digs.

Meanwhile, she continues to learn on the job and says she’s been pleasantly surprised by the rigor that goes into pipeline construction. “They’re really thorough in everything that they do,” Jennifer says. “Environmentally, they’re just 100% for being safe—doing whatever they can to mitigate any issues.”

As for advice she’d give to prospective pipeline hires? “I would advise them to look at environmental careers. The industry is shifting toward a greater acknowledgement of the role of indigenous stewardship.”

(TOP PHOTO: Jennifer Wolfe, of Muskowekwan First Nation, has "learned the pipeline lingo pretty fast.")