West Moberly First Nations celebrated an important milestone in the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project with the official opening on Oct. 30 of Sukunka Lodge, a workforce accommodation site that will house women and men working on the project for the next few years.
West Moberly is partnered with Black Diamond Group to deliver all services at Sukunka Lodge – from catering to security.
“We are honoured to participate (in the project). Sukunka Lodge is a big deal to the West Moberly First Nations and provides an opportunity for employment,” Chief Roland Willson said at the ceremonial opening and celebration. “We’ve had a number of people working out here, setting everything up. The revenues that are generated for our community will help us move our nation forward.”
Sukunka Lodge features all the comforts of home and more, including a gym and 24-hour snack-bar. It is nestled in the forest approximately 42 kilometres south of Chetwynd, B.C. and within Dunne-Za and Cree traditional territory. The site is presently home to approximately 150 women and men who typically work six days on, with one off and stay at site for several months at a time. This means things like food and amenities are important, along with other services.
Miranda McNeil, a Coastal GasLink construction monitor for the McLeod Lake Indian Band who will live at Sukunka, was impressed by the facility. She said there are a few important factors that help workforce accommodations feel like home.
“This is my first time seeing the gym here. It’s really huge,” she said. “Having cell service and wifi so that I can keep in touch with my family, especially my kids, is really important,” said Miranda.
Occupancy is expected to grow as work ramps up next year, reaching a peak of approximately 700 in the fall of 2020 when pipeline installation will be in full swing along the first few hundred kilometres of the route.
Sukunka Lodge is first workforce accommodation site to be established in the South Peace Region, which encompasses Sections 1 and 2.
“This is a beautiful place and a beautiful area. There is a lot of history here and you can feel it when you’re walking around here. Please enjoy the camp and please respect the area,” said Chief Willson.
Coastal GasLink shares the commitment to protecting the natural environment in the South Peace Region along with the rich history and traditions of neighbouring Indigenous communities.
Frank Hufnagel, Coastal GasLink director of pipeline implementation, congratulated West Moberly on the opening and thanked them for the important role they are playing in helping to provide a safe and respectful home for workers.
“We’re proud to have a partner that shares our values,” said Hufnagel. “At Coastal GasLink, we are committed to creating an extraordinary legacy of safety and respect for communities and the environment. Safety for our workers and the local community is our number one priority, including at our workforce accommodations such as Sukunka Lodge.”
Each workforce site will have an advisor from nearby communities to support a positive and respectful culture in workforce accommodations. Advisors will implement programs, including cultural and community-based activities for workers. This program will allow workers to learn about what is important to our Indigenous partners — from their traditional values and their connection to the environment.
First occupancy at the Little Rock Lake site near Fraser Lake, in Section 5 of the project, is expected in November 2019. Construction of the 7 Mile workforce accommodation in Section 6, near Burns Lake, is underway. All workforce accommodations will be managed by Indigenous-partnered businesses. To learn more about our approach to workforce accommodations, check out our latest fact sheet.