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Line 3 replacement helps Native American community curb poverty, says Indigenous business owner

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‘We wanted to let other people know that all the Native Americans don’t oppose the pipeline’

Article from the Canadian Energy Centre

Written by Deborah Jaremko

On the White Earth Reservation in northwest Minnesota, Matt Gordon takes great pride that his family’s Native American-owned construction company is able to help workers support their families in a region where 21 per cent of the population lives in poverty.

 

Matt Gordon, vice-president of Gordon Construction, based in Mahnomen, Minnesota.

Gordon Construction is working on Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project, and that ongoing work is helping provide vital jobs and income for a region that has seen its share of struggles.

The company has over 150 employees, 60 of whom are recognized federally as Native Americans, Gordon says. Of the other 90 employees, many are married to a Native American member, supporting a Native American family, or living on the reservation.

“All that money stays on the reservation. One guy that works or one lady that works, they take care of not only their children or their significant other or spouse, they take care of their aunt or their grandma. It’s a big web is what they take care of,” he says.

“These are union jobs for a lot of these people. You get hours built up and good health insurance. You don’t have to go to Indian Health anymore. You have a retirement after you’re vested and you have a sustainable income.”

Activist hypocrisy

After anti-pipeline activists wreaked havoc on a worksite earlier this month, Gordon and five fellow Native American business leaders working on Line 3 released a joint letter calling out activists in part for “intentionally creating a false narrative that there is no Native American support for this project and the economic impacts and opportunities it brings to our people.”

The work of Native Americans employed by Gordon Construction and other companies were disrespected and put on hold when protestors descended on the work site, claiming to be defending the environment and Indigenous rights.

“They ended up not only damaging our equipment, they put gravel in our fuel tanks, in our hydraulic tanks, flattened all the tires. They essentially took that place over for almost 24 hours. They just left garbage everywhere,” Gordon says.

“It’s a touch of irony how these people are coming in to say they’re there for the environment, but then it’s just total chaos and anarchy and then they leave a mess. It took three days for that place to be cleaned up before we could go back to work.”

Gordon says the letter was also a reminder that there’s not universal opposition to Line 3 from Native Americans.

“We wanted to let other people know that all the Native Americans don’t oppose the pipeline,” Gordon says.

“It’s a good thing all the way around up in the northwest Minnesota corridor.”

Early advocate for Line 3

From his office window in the small town of Mahnomen, where his family has been for generations, Gordon often sees oil trains rolling by. It’s an ongoing reminder of both the power of U.S. oil demand and the risks of transportation without pipelines.

“We see oil coming up and down every day. It’s not going to stop just because one pipeline shuts down,” he says. “Pipelines are indisputably safer.”

Gordon was an early advocate of the Line 3 project, having previously worked with owner Enbridge including doing pipeline integrity digs for safety inspection on the existing pipeline.

“Essentially they have a structure set up on safety and environmental similar to that of working for the government, but I would say it’s even more stringent,” he says.

“My big thing of it is that they are a fair company. They work with you and they’re not trying to bankrupt you or make you lose money. They want you to succeed because if you’re a success, they’re a success.”

Photo courtesy of Gordon United, LLC.

Benefits in Mahnomen

Mahnomen County, inside the White Earth Reservation, has the lowest per capita income in Minnesota. It’s about $21,000 per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Gordon says that working pipelines, community members are able to make much more.

“You’re looking at guys that are working 60 hours a week, anything after eight hours a day is overtime, and all these guys are bringing home $2,500, $3,000 a week, which is huge to a lot of people in the community. Pretty proud of that fact.”

In addition to its contracts on the new Line 3, Gordon Construction is looking forward to supporting decommissioning and reclamation of the existing pipeline.

“Not only are we working now, but we’ll be working in the future when they’re doing the decommissioning of the line and shutting the old line down with final restoration. That’ll be a two to three year project,” Gordon says.

“We’ll have 40 to 60 guys dedicated to the final restoration portion after the line is done. And then you have the decommissioning aspect, and we’re trying to help support that process also.”

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Top-ranked Winnipeg Blue Bombers edge Edmonton Elks 37-22 for fourth straight victory

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EDMONTON — DeAundre Alford and Adam Bighill recorded defensive touchdowns as the league-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers fought their way past the Edmonton Elks 37-22 Saturday.

The Blue Bombers (6-1) have won four games in a row while the Elks (2-4) have lost two straight and fell to 0-4 at home this season.

Winnipeg got off to a blazing start by scoring on its first drive, going 80 yards in nine plays, capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass from QB Zach Collaros to Darvin Adams.

Collaros went 19 of 24 passing for 252 yards, a TD and an interception. 

The Bombers doubled their lead on their next drive as Nic Demski ploughed his way through several defenders for a 21-yard rushing major to make it 14-0.

Edmonton got back into the game midway through the second thanks to a Christian Rector fumble recovery on the Bombers’ nine-yard-line, leading to a James Wilder Jr. touchdown run.

Winnipeg kicker Ali Mourtada missed a 28-yard field goal attempt before Edmonton’s Sean Whyte nailed a three-pointer from 44 yards out to make it 15-10 at the mid-mark.

The Blue Bombers had 250 yards of offence in the first half to the Elks’ 125. QB Taylor Cornelius passed for 106 yards in the first half in his CFL debut as he replaced Trevor Harris, who was placed on the six-game injured list with a neck injury.

Cornelius finished the game with 19 completions on 33 pass attempts for 243 yards and three interceptions. 

Edmonton surged into the lead early in the third quarter with an unconverted 19-yard TD run by Wilder.

However the Bombers regained the lead as Alford picked off Cornelius and took it back 22 yards for the touchdown. A two-point convert made it 23-16 for Winnipeg.

Whyte responded with a 32-yard field goal before Mourtada missed his third field goal attempt of the game from 44 yards.

The Bombers defence did it again late in the third as Cornelius fumbled deep in his own end, leading to a three-yard scoop and score by Bighill.

After Whyte kicked a 19-yard field goal, Winnipeg put the game away with a one-yard TD plunge by Sean McGuire.

Both teams have a bye next week. The Elks’ next game will be in Ottawa on Sept. 28, while the Bombers will be in B.C. on Oct. 1. Winnipeg and Edmonton will then play each other again in a home-and-home series.

Notes: Two highly anticipated players made their Elks debuts: offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers and linebacker Derrick Moncrief… Winnipeg was trying its third place-kicker of the season with Mourtada making his CFL debut, relegating rookie Marc Liegghio to punting duties.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Veteran Canadian rider Mario Deslauriers wins Spruce Meadows Grand Prix

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CALGARY — Canada’s Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina 2 posted two clear rounds Saturday to take the Queen Elizabeth II Cup Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows.

In a jump-off with Mexico’s Carlos Hank Guerreiro and Australian Katie Laurie, Deslauriers and the 12-year-old mare didn’t put a rail down and topped the leaderboard with a time of 53.05 seconds.

Deslauriers said Bardolina 2 can be difficult to ride, but she was on her game Saturday in Calgary.

“Today, she jumped incredible,” Deslauriers said. “She was straight like an arrow and she jumped beautiful.”

Deslauriers and Bardolina 2 were Canada’s lone show jumping entry in the summer’s Tokyo Olympics where the duo placed 22nd.

“She was very good I think in the medal round (there),” Deslauriers said. “She had two fences down that were very cheap, but overall she jumped super well.

“Before she came here, she had to do three weeks quarantine because I was over my limit when I came back from Europe.

“Really, I jumped her one time at home, she got in the truck and came here, so I think she’s matured a lot. I can count on her. I don’t need to practise so much any more.”

Deslauriers, 56, is from Saint-Jean, Que., but lives in New York.

The North American is the last of three September tournaments totalling $5.6 million in prize money.

Spruce Meadows resumed hosting international show jumping events after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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