Photo No. 1: The Chief recommends Elaine
Canupawakpa Dakota Chief Viola Eastman (left) approached Elaine in the spring of 2018 to see if she’d be interested in an opportunity to enroll in an Enbridge-sponsored Pipeline 101 training program. “She said, ‘Would you like to try, Elaine? You’re a good person and we know you’ll finish.’ I didn’t need any convincing, no thinking at all—I just said, ‘Yes.’ ”
Photo No. 2: Training lays a foundation for future success
Elaine’s Pipeline 101 training began in May 2018 and included classroom learning and hands-on experience. While most of the participants in the training were male, Elaine, who grew up with six brothers and no sisters, was not intimidated. She more than held her own when physical labor was called for. “The workers said they couldn’t believe how fast I was picking up those skids,” Elaine says. “One of the guys told me I worked better than a 23-year-old man. I’m getting a bit older but I can still handle a lot of things that normal girls can’t.”
Photo No. 3: Learning the inspector’s trade
The phone call Elaine had been waiting for came in the summer of 2018 and she joined the Line 3 pipeline replacement project as a junior inspector on construction Spread 7 in August 2018. “Everyone made me feel welcome,” Elaine says. “I really enjoy that tailgate meeting first thing in the morning, everybody would talk and everybody knew what we’re going to do and who’s going to do it.” While learning and showing an aptitude for the inspector role, Elaine was encouraged to complete 16 hours of on the job study. She is now planning to write an API 1169 exam to become a fully certified craft inspector.
(Pictured: Elaine, center, with Dunn & Hiebert inspectors Clarence Clementovich, left, and Farren Dixon.)
Photo No. 4: An expression of gratitude
Elaine is thankful for the opportunity to fulfill her dream of working in the pipeline industry, and she wanted to show her appreciation by presenting a star blanket to Brian Rowher, Senior Construction Specialist on Spread 7 of the Line 3 project, in December 2018. To give a star blanket is to show utmost respect, honor and admiration and to receive one indicates that the giver hold you in high esteem for your generosity and accomplishments.
(Pictured from left: Elaine, Brian Rowher, Senior Aboriginal Construction Monitor Arnold Breland and Gerrilynn Cochrane, junior monitor.)
Photo No. 5: All ready for the road
In July 2018, Elaine bought herself a next-to-new 30-foot trailer. “I’m excited about becoming an inspector and going on the road. People say, ‘There’s nothing exciting about that, Elaine.’ I say, ‘For me, it’s exciting.” Elaine lives on-reserve with her 80-year-old mother. Her brother and sister-in-law look after her when Elaine is away at work. “I stay in Brandon and go home one day a week to buy groceries and pay the bills,” she says. “I talk to my mom every day, tell her what I do. She’s very happy for me.”