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Woodfibre LNG shares its visionary gender and cultural safety strategy

Woodfibre LNG has introduced various initiatives all aimed at promoting a culture of respect, understanding and inclusivity
The Gender Safety Committee onboard the floatel during a recent tour. Photo via Woodfibre LNG

At the heart of Woodfibre LNG's mission lies a profound commitment to the Sḵwxw̱ú7meshÚxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and the Squamish community. And, this dedication extends beyond mere acknowledgment, to active engagement and accountability. 

Understanding the critical significance of inclusion, economic participation, and the safety of Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQIA individuals, Woodfibre LNG has embarked on a transformative journey. Rooted in the foundational principles outlined by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the federal Standing Committee on the Status of Women's report, the company has spearheaded initiatives to prioritize gender safety and inclusivity. The focus on gender safety demonstrates a pronounced focus towards fostering a workplace, worker accommodations, and a commitment to the community that not only respects but actively champions the rights and well-being of Indigenous women and marginalized genders.

In late 2022, drawing guidance from the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the federal Standing Committee on the Status of Women’s report, Addressing Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls in the Context of Resource Development Projects, the company began developing programming to prioritize gender safety and inclusion in the workplace, in worker accommodations and in the community.

In Spring of 2023, Woodfibre LNG became the first project in any sector to fully adopt the Calls for Extractive and Development Industries, resulting from the National Inquiry, and to invite indigenous women to participate meaningfully in implementing related programming. 

As part of its work to effectively implement gender safety programming, Woodfibre LNG established the Gender Safety Advisory Committee, comprised of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women from the Squamish community. This committee, co-chaired by Gwen Harry, a respected elder of the Squamish Nation, alongside Woodfibre LNG President Christine Kennedy, plays a pivotal role in shaping and implementing gender safety protocols and initiatives within the company. 

The committee boasts a multi-sectoral membership, including elected officials, community representatives, and staff from both the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, as well as observers from various regulatory agencies and organizations like PearlSpace, the District of Squamish, and FortisBC. This diverse composition ensures a wide range of perspectives, fostering collaboration in developing policies and procedures to promote gender safety and inclusivity within Woodfibre LNG and its surrounding community.

Additionally, the presence of Michelle Mungall, former BC Minister of Energy and a staunch advocate for women's rights, as the Gender Safety liaison further strengthens the committee's credentials and experience to help advance gender equality and cultural safety within the industrial landscape.

The Gender Safety Advisory Committee has played a foundational role in shaping various initiatives aimed at advancing gender and cultural safety on the Project. These initiatives include:

  • Delivering mandatory, in-person cultural awareness and gender safety training by Indigenous trainers to all staff, contractors, sub-contractors, and suppliers. This training, delivered to over 600 individuals to date, fosters a culture of respect and understanding while serving as a preventive measure against gender or cultural-based violence.
  • Establishing a foundational Worker Code of Conduct that outlines requirements for respectful behavior and enforces a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Every worker must sign this code prior to commencing work on the Project.
  • A  statistical research project conducted through the duration of project construction led by Patricia Maedel, an experienced, independent, post-secondary project manager and consultant affiliated with both University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University. The research project will collect and assess data that can serve as indicators related to gender-based violence, which will assist in creating future bodies of work on best practices related to work camp policies.
  • Creating dedicated positions to advocate for gender safety and economic inclusion, including Indigenous Floatel Cultural Manager roles onboard the floating workforce accommodations, an Indigenous Workforce Development Manager, and an Indigenous Business Advocate. These positions ensure the implementation and tracking of the company’s commitments to economic inclusion.
  • In addition to the use of site-based floating workforce accommodation outside of the community, Woodfibre LNG is supporting training in personal safety and risk identification for women and girls in Squamish, with the intent of leaving a legacy of reduced vulnerability to assault and increased personal confidence and security.
  • Support programming for women, including consent training for youth and high school students in Squamish by working with local community organizations.
  • Working closely with Ending Violence Association of BC to establish dedicated training programs that foster a culture of speaking up, and being more than a bystander.


Video via Woodfibre LNG

The accomplishments and value of the Gender Safety Advisory Committee have not gone unnoticed. In Nov. 2023, the BC Environmental Assessment Office introduced a regulatory mandate for the establishment of the Gender Safety Advisory Committee as part of the Environmental Assessment Certificate amendment, facilitating the utilization of the floatel. 

Woodfibre LNG has also been mandated to create a Gender and Cultural Safety Management Plan by the Environmental Assessment Office. This plan, developed collaboratively with the Gender Safety Advisory Committee and other stakeholders, formalizes existing initiatives and introduces further clarity and definition to strategies aimed at mitigating and addressing instances of gender or culturally-based violence associated with the Project.

While Woodfibre LNG took the initiative to establish the committee and related programming, it is truly the voices of Indigenous women and others from the community that have helped shape these into meaningful initiatives – now required by regulation – that will have lasting positive impacts.

Woodfibre LNG extends a huy chexw a (thank you) to the esteemed members of the Gender Safety Advisory Committee. Their courage, willingness to share personal narratives and dedication to establishing progressive norms and standards for gender safety and Indigenous economic involvement in industrial ventures are poised to make a transformative impact, not only within Squamish but also throughout Canada.



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