News & Insights

Inspiring Inclusion: Woodfibre LNG and the Gender Safety Advisory Committee


Mar 9, 2024

Woodfibre LNG takes its relationship with and responsibility to the Sḵwxw̱ú7meshÚxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and the Squamish community seriously, and recognizes the central importance of inclusion, economic participation, and safety of Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQIA people in relation to the Project.

That’s why in late 2022, taking 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.

A few months later in the 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. 

This included establishing a Gender Safety Advisory Committee made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women from the community of Squamish, with the mandate to provide direct and ongoing input on gender safety and related programming, policies and procedures to company management and take an role in implementing their recommendations. The committee is co-chaired by the Woodfibre LNG President and a respected elder from the Squamish Nation, Gwen Harry, with membership including elected, non-elected and staff members from the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, a representative from PearlSpace, former BC Minister of Energy and longtime women’s advocate Michelle Mungall who serves as Gender Safety Liaison on the Committee, and observer members from federal and provincial regulatory agencies, the District of Squamish and FortisBC.

Members of the committee have supported and guided Woodfibre LNG through the process of refining and implementing a suite of initiatives to advance gender and cultural safety on the Project, onboard the floating worker accommodation or “floatel,” and in the community. Some of these include: 

  • Mandatory, in-person cultural awareness and gender safety training delivered by Indigenous trainers for all Woodfibre LNG staff, contractors, sub-contractors, and suppliers. To date, over 600 workers have received this training, contributing to a culture of respect and understanding, as a preventative measure to gender or cultural-based violence.
  • A foundational Worker Code of Conduct that must be signed by every worker prior to beginning work on the project, establishing requirements for respectful behavior and zero-tolerance for bullying, harassment and discrimination.
  • A four-year statistics research project, through which Patricia Maedel of the University of Victoria will collect and assess data that can serve as indicators related to gender-based violence during the Project’s construction phase. The findings will assist in creating future bodies of work on best practices related to the policies at work camps.
  • Dedicated positions to champion gender safety and economic inclusion, including Indigenous Floatel Cultural Manager positions onboard the floating workforce accommodations at the Project site, an Indigenous Workforce Development Manager, and an Indigenous Business Advocate role – bringing resources to implement  and track the company’s commitments on economic inclusion.
  • 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, despite the regulated requirement that Woodfibre LNG’s non-local workforce be accommodated outside the community of Squamish.
  • Working with local community organizations to support programming for women, including consent training for youth and high school students in Squamish.
  • Promoting a culture of speaking up, and being more than a bystander, including dedicated training programs, working closely with Ending Violence Association of BC.

Woodfibre LNG was delighted in November 2023 to see the Gender Safety Advisory Committee established in regulation as an ongoing and integral requirement for the Project through the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) amendment of the Environmental Assessment Certificate to enable use of the floatel. The Environmental Assessment Office also required Woodfibre LNG to develop a Gender and Cultural Safety Management Plan. This plan, developed in collaboration with the Gender Safety Advisory Committee and others, codifies, builds on and provides additional definition on the initiatives, policies, and programs already underway to deter, prevent and address incidents of gender or culturally-based violence related to 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.

On International Women’s Day 2024, huy chexw a (thank you) to the women of the Gender Safety Advisory Committee, whose bravery, willingness to tell their personal and family stories, and commitment to forging new norms and standards for gender safety and Indigenous economic participation on industrial projects will change lives here and across the country.