Dust suppression to help a First Nation’s celebration

Enbridge partnership on green dust-control solution bolsters safety during Swan Lake First Nation’s 25th anniversary powwow

The storytelling begins with the drummers, each of their beats bringing those present into balance with the pulse of the earth.

Vocalists join the thunderous rhythm, their tones merging music with spirit as the sound fills the peak of the towering tent.

The Ojibwe people’s traditional clothing, too, recounts the narrative, shows the history of craftsmanship in the careful bead and feather work.

The story of this performance is one of celebration. It’s the 25th anniversary powwow of the Swan Lake First Nation (SLFN), held this past Canada Day long weekend in south-central Manitoba.

Every year, the powwow attracts more than the SLFN’s 1,500 members; it also calls to visitors from near and far who attend to experience the culture, heritage and stories of the Nation.

The event is held on the Nation’s powwow grounds, on Treaty 1 lands in the Pembina Valley, on the bank of SLFN’s namesake—Swan Lake—so termed for its shape like the long neck and head of a swan. In the Nation’s Saulteaux language, the lake is called Gaubiskiigamaux, meaning “the lake that is curved.”

The site is surrounded by rich, agricultural land; eight kilometers of unpaved roads crisscross farm plots and animal pastures leading to the grounds. As is typical with unpaved roads, dust from vehicles can cause serious safety issues. Airborne dust poses health risks when inhaled, and it damages crops and vegetation. Dust clouds also cause dangerous visibility issues for drivers.

Safety being the foundation of everything we do at Enbridge, we saw an opportunity to support SLFN’s 25th anniversary powwow by proactively making the roadways safe for attendees. We awarded SLFN a $50,000 Fueling Futures grant to help cover costs of controlling dust on the unpaved roads, and we partnered with two Canadian companies to make it happen.

Cypher Environmental donated a portion of its environmentally friendly, non-toxic dust-control solution for the project, and Subcan Inc., a heavy construction service provider, provided in-kind machinery and labour to apply the product to the roads.

The three-way partnership is a prime example of community pooling resources to make a positive impact in the community.

Grader working on gravel road Subcan Inc. heavy equipment applies an environmentally friendly Cypher Environmental dust-control solution to gravel roads on the Swan Lake First Nation in advance of the Nation's 25th anniversary powwow in July 2023. The initiative was funded by a $50,000 Fueling Futures grant from Enbridge.

“You recognize that there’s a very big component that corporations should be playing in promoting better environments, better health,” says John Palson, director of engineering at Cypher. “You have to contribute back.”

Adding to the safety of the powwow was a key driver of the partnership.

“The most important part of our partnership with Swan Lake First Nation is care of the environment and safety,” explains Charissa Dobson, co-owner of Subcan.

The approach to dust suppression helped keep powwow participants and visitors safe, so attendees could focus on the story—celebrating the Nation’s arts, culture and heritage.