The opening of the Little Rock Lake Lodge, a workforce accommodation site to house men and women working on the Coastal GasLink Project, was symbolic in many ways for the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation.
Situated on the former site of the Lejac Residential School, the Lodge was established through a partnership between the Nation, Horizon North, and Falcon Camp Services. While the school was closed in 1976, its traumatic impact continued to be felt, even after the federal government tore it down in the 1990s.
But with the new Lodge, and the new name, the Nation can finally reclaim the land on its own terms. According to Chief Larry Nooski, the Nadleh Whut’en’s role in operating the Lodge and ensuring the safety of people, especially women, represents a personal commitment to helping his community overcome the past by establishing partnerships that benefit Indigenous people and build long-term relationships with surrounding communities.
“When we started working with industry, including Coastal GasLink, we started to see opportunities for activities that could benefit not only our people but also the whole region,” said Chief Nooski. “Our participation also provides an opportunity for our people to ensure that the land and the water is protected while at the same time building future prosperity.”
Stellat’en Chief Archie Patrick, a survivor of the Lejac Residential School, was also present at the event. “This grand opening signifies a really major historical event, or series of events, that Carrier and Sekani people are experiencing,” he said. “We, as Native people, have been kept on the outside looking in. This is an instance where we are part of the group that’s inside. And this is just the beginning.”
At the peak of construction, up to 700 women and men will call the Lodge home, and with them come new opportunities for local businesses like coffee shops and bookstores. While Coastal GasLink has focused on minimizing impacts from the local workforce on community infrastructure, in some cases communities have requested to be involved in planning to find ways in which their businesses and facilities can equally benefit.
Mayor Sarrah Storey welcomed the benefits the project would bring to residents and businesses in Fraser Lake. “Our communities are really looking forward to the energy this [lodge] is going to bring to our area and our businesses, who are obviously excited. When you’re in a downturn, seeing things like this happen is huge and very much needed and appreciated,” said Mayor Storey.
For more information about the project and updates on construction activities, visit www.CoastalGasLink.com
Coastal GasLink is proud to work with Indigenous and local communities at all our workforce accommodation sites. Upcoming sites include the 7 Mile Lodge (scheduled for mid-February), and the Vanderhoof Lodge where site preparation activity began in January.