Industrial Camps in Northern British Columbia

The Politics of ‘Essential’ Work and the Gendered Implications of Man Camps

  • Vanessa Sloan Morgan University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Dawn Hoogeveen Simon Fraser University
  • Sarah de Leeuw University of Northern British Columbia
Keywords: Resource extraction, gender-based violence, COVID-19, Northern British Columbia, industrial man camps, colonial geographies

Abstract

This place and gender-based paper arises from bearing witness to, and critically engaging, the heightened vulnerabilities that a global pandemic (COVID-19) brings to the geographies of so-called northern British Columbia (BC), Canada. We consider how vulnerabilities in northern geographies are produced through layers of coloniality and racialized extractive-capitalism and then, subsequently, how those heightened vulnerabilities are ignored and disregarded in support of corporate interests. We explore the risks and gendered nature of industrial camps—or ‘man camps.’ By focusing on man camps, we demonstrate how, by continuing to operate during a pandemic and in regions where people have pleaded for them to shut down, man camps are environments that amplify physical, environmental, health, and sociocultural risks. We also outline how man camps further subject northern communities to corporate colonial violence, especially by ignoring many Indigenous leaders’ demands for camps to close. Using anti-colonial and place-based analytical lenses and methods in critical feminist iterative discourse analysis, we also draw from statements by health workers, Indigenous leaders, and media articles to highlight the predicted spread of the virus across northern BC geographies. The paper interrogates how and why extractive facilities, and the man camps they rely upon, are deemed essential services despite extractive facilities relying on transient workforces housed in industrial camps that had (predictable) COVID-19 outbreaks. Importantly, we celebrate voices (often of women-identifying Indigenous activists, matriarchs, and front-line workers) tirelessly calling for attention to the gendered and racialized impacts of industrial ‘man camps.’

References

Alaska Highway News. 2021. “Site C: COVID-19 Daily Update.” Alaska Highway News, January 8, 2021. https://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/site-c/site-c-covid-19-daily-update-1.24104829.

Amnesty International. 2016a. “Out of Sight, out of Mind: Gender, Indigenous Rights, and Energy Development in Northeast British Columbia, Canada.” Executive Summary. https://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/Out%20of%20Sight%20Out%20of%20Mind%20ES%20FINAL%20EN%20CDA.pdf.

Amnesty International. 2016b. “The Point of No Return: The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada Threatened by the Site C Dam.” London, UK: Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/Canada%20Site%20C%20Report.pdf.

Armstrong, Jordan. 2018. “An inside Look at Life in the Site C Work Camp.” Global News, November 16, 2018. https://globalnews.ca/news/4672618/an-inside-look-at-life-in-the-site-c-work-camp/.

Barrera, Jorge. 2020. “Epidemics and Resilience: How the Algonquin Have Faced Nearly 200 Years of Disease Outbreak and Survived.” CBC News, May 10, 2020. https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/algonquin-epidemics.

BC Centre for Disease Control, and BC Ministry of Health. 2020. “COVID-19: Interim Communicable Disease Control Guidelines for Industrial Camps.” Government of British Columbia. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19-pho-guidance-industrial-camp-guidelines.pdf.

BC Centre for Disease Control, and Provincial Health Services Authority. 2021. “BCCDC COVID-19 Epidemiology App.” May 17, 2021. https://bccdc.shinyapps.io/covid19_global_epi_app/.

BC Hydro. 2017. “Project Need.” Site C Clean Energy Project. 2017. https://www.sitecproject.com/why-site-c/project-need.

BC Hydro. 2020. “BC Hydro Scaling down Construction Activities on Site C; Critical Work to Continue.” Site C Clean Energy Project. March 18, 2020. https://www.sitecproject.com/bc-hydro-scaling-down-construction-activities-on-site-c-critical-work-to-continue.

BC Ministry of Health. 2020. Industrial Camps. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19-pho-order-industrial-camps.pdf.

BC Ministry of Health. 2021. “Industrial Projects Restart -- January 12, 2021.” Order of the Provincial Health Officer. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19-pho-order-industrial-projects.pdf.

BC Ministry of Health. n.d. Provincial Infection Prevention and Control Officers. Accessed April 27, 2020. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19-pho-delegation-industrial-camps.pdf.

BC Ministry of Health, and BC Centre for Disease Control. 2020. COVID-19: Going Forward. Accessed May 17. 2021. https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Covid-19_May4_PPP.pdf

Behn, Caleb, and Karen Bakker. 2019. “Rendering Technical, Rendering Sacred: The Politics of Hydroelectric Development on British Columbia’s Saaghii Naachii/Peace River.” Global Environmental Politics 19, no. 3: 98–119. https://doi.org/10.1162/glep_a_00518.

Bellrichard, Chantelle. 2020a. “Some Tourists Ignore Haida Nation Pleas to Stay Away during Covid-19 Pandemic.” CBC News, March 19, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/haida-nation-tourists-covid-19-1.5503810.

Bellrichard, Chantelle. 2020b. “B.C. Officials Wrestled to Define Major Industrial Projects as Essential through Pandemic: ‘I Can’t Argue Site C, LNG Canada, Etc. Are Essential,’ Wrote Deputy Minister.” CBC News, October 9, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/bc-essential-services-sitec-lngcanada-1.5755918.

Bond, Adam, and Leah Quinlan. 2018. “Indigenous Gender-Based Analysis for Informing the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan.” Policy Paper. Akwesasne, ON: Native Women’s Association of Canada/L’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada. https://www.minescanada.ca/sites/default/files/indigenous-gender-based-analysis-cmmp_.pdf.

Bowering, David. 2020. “Open Letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry: Give Northerners COVID-19 Locations, Shut down Work Camps.” Alaska Highway News, March 28, 2020. https://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/opinion/letters/open-letter-to-dr-bonnie-henry-give-northerners-covid-19-locations-shut-down-work-camps-1.24108166.

British Columbia’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner. 2020. “Disaggregated Demographic Data Collection in British Columbia: The Grandmother Perspective.” Vancouver, BC. https://bchumanrights.ca/wp-content/uploads/BCOHRC_Sept2020_Disaggregated-Data-Report_FINAL.pdf.

Coastal GasLink. 2020. “Construction Update.” https://www.coastalgaslink.com/siteassets/pdfs/construction/updates/coastal-gaslink-construction-update-november-19-2020.pdf.

Council of the Haida Nation. 2020. Council of the Haida Nation Video [United Coast Response to COVID-19]. https://www.facebook.com/307576689312237/videos/vb.307576689312237/1408463619361617/?type=3&theater.

Cox, Sarah. 2020a. “‘Send Everybody Home’: Potential Coronavirus Outbreak at Site C Dam a Threat to Fort St. John, Local Officials Say.” The Narwhal, March 26, 2020. https://thenarwhal.ca/send-everybody-home-potential-coronavirus-outbreak-at-site-c-dam-a-threat-to-fort-st-john-local-officials-say/.

Cox, Sarah. 2020b. “Former Chief Medical Officer Urges B.C. to Shut Industrial Work Camps during Coronavirus Pandemic.” The Narwhal, March 31, 2020. https://thenarwhal.ca/former-chief-medical-officer-urges-b-c-to-shut-industrial-work-camps-during-coronavirus-pandemic/.

Daigle, Michelle. 2018. “Resurging through Kishiichiwan: The Spatial Politics of Indigenous Water Relations.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 7 (1): 159–72.

Driskill, Qwo-Li. 2016. Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.

Earthworks (USA), Institute for Policy Studies--Global Economy Program (USA), London Mining Network (UK), MiningWatch Canada, Terra Justa, War on Want (UK), and Yes to Life No to Mining. 2020. “Voices from the Ground: How the Global Mining Industry Is Profiting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” https://miningwatch.ca/sites/default/files/covid-19_and_mining_-_snapshot_report.pdf.

Estes, Nick. 2019. Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance. New York, NY: Verso Press.

Follett Hosgood, Amanda. 2020a. “BC’s Work Camps Stay Open Despite Pandemic Risks.” The Tyee, March 24, 2020. https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/03/24/BC-Resource-Workers-Could-Overwhelm-Northern-Hospitals/.

Follett Hosgood, Amanda. 2020b. “Wet’suwet’en Call on Province to Close Pipeline Work Camps: Female Chiefs Say COVID-19 Risk Means Work on Oil and Gas Projects Shouldn’t Be Classed as an Essential Service.” The Tyee, December 1, 2020. https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/12/01/Wetsuweten-Call-Province-Close-Pipeline-Work-Camps/.

Follett Hosgood, Amanda. 2020c. “Cleaners Are on LNG Canada’s Frontlines. They’re Scared.” The Tyee, December 7, 2020. https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/12/07/Cleaners-LNG-Canada-Frontline/.

Follett Hosgood, Amanda. 2020d. “Northern First Nations Look for Answers as Work Camps Bring the Virus.” The Tyee, December 15, 2020. https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/12/15/Work-Camps-Bring-Virus-Northern-First-Nations/.

Front Line Health Workers in B.C. 2020. “Re: Urgent Concerns from Wet’suwet’en Ts’ako Ze’ and Skiy Ze’ - A Letter of Support from Front Line Health Workers in B.C. and across Canada,” December 2020. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScV93GadMxsWS1gBOg9nDDtAnLtVMRDfzSNtif81dHvIUERqA/closedform.

Gibson, Ginger, Kathleen Yung, L Chisholm, H Quinn, with Lake Babine Nation, and Nak’azdli Whut’en. 2017. “Indigenous Communities and Industrial Camps: Promoting Healthy Communities in Settings of Industrial Change.” Victoria, BC: The Firelight Group. https://firelight.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Firelight-work-camps-Feb-8-2017_FINAL.pdf.

Goeman, Mishuana. 2017. “Ongoing Storms and Struggles: Gendered Violence and Resource Exploitation.” In Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, edited by Joanne Barker. Durham, NC & London, UK: Duke University Press.

Goldenberg, Shira, Jean Shoveller, Mieke Koehoorn, and Aleck Ostry. 2008. “Barriers to STI Testing among Youth in a Canadian Oil and Gas Community.” Health & Place 14, no. 4: 718–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2007.11.005.

Goldenberg, S.M., J.A. Shoveller, M. Koehoorn, and A.S. Ostry. 2010. “And They Call This Progress? Consequences for Young People of Living and Working in Resource-Extraction Communities.” Critical Public Health 20, no. 2: 157–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/09581590902846102.

Government of British Columbia. 2020. “List of COVID-19 Essential Services.” April 3, 2020. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/essential-services-covid-19?bcgovtm=20200319_GCPE_AM_COVID_4_NOTIFICATION_BCGOV_BCGOV_EN_BC__NOTIFICATION.

Hatherly, Dana. 2020. “RCMP Investigating after Fire Destroys Wigwam at Anti-Pipeline Camp.” CBC News, April 27, 2020, Manitoba edition. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/fire-destroys-wigwam-at-anti-pipeline-camp-1.5547088?fbclid=IwAR1AqUTJjDu9vJGtDbbvf5FpM2WqO4UdpNqqAEebgDcehNj8UVsfBtaxh-A.

Hunt, Sarah. 2013. “Witnessing the Colonialscape: Lighting the Intimate Fires of Indigenous Legal Pluralism.” PhD diss., Simon Fraser University. http://summit.sfu.ca/item/14145#310.

Imperial Oil. 2020. “Protecting Our Kearl Workforce from COVID-19.” April 2020. https://www.imperialoil.ca/en-CA/Updates/COVID-19/Protecting-our-Kearl-workforce-from-COVID-19.

Knott, Helen. 2018. “Violence and Extraction: Stories from the Oil Fields.” In Keetsahnak/Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters, edited by Maria Campbell, Kim Anderson, and Christi Belcourt, 147–60. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta Press.

Kurjata, Andrew. 2020a. “COVID-19 Outbreak Declared at LNG Canada Worksite in Kitimat, as 14 Test Positive.” CBC News, November 19, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/lng-canada-covid-19-kitimat-1.5808832.

Kurjata, Andrew. 2020b. “2nd COVID-19 Outbreak at LNG Canada Worksite in Kitimat, B.C.” CBC News, December 17, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/lng-canada-worksite-covid-19-positive-diversified-1.5845876.

Lakhani, Nina. 2020. “Why Native Americans Took Covid-19 Seriously: ‘It’s Our Reality.’” The Guardian, May 26, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/26/native-americans-coronavirus-impact?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other.

Lazar, Michelle M. 2007. “Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis: Articulating a Feminist Discourse Praxis1.” Critical Discourse Studies 4 (2): 141–64. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405900701464816.

Leonard, Chehala. 2021. “B.C. Health Care Workers Add Their Names to List Calling on Closure of Work Camps during Pandemic.” APTN, January 3, 2021. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/b-c-health-care-workers-add-their-names-to-list-calling-on-closure-of-work-camps-during-pandemic/.

Lindsay, Bethany. 2020. “B.C. Says Everyone with COVID-19 Symptoms Can Be Tested, as Total Cases Rise to 1,699.” CBC News, April 20, 2020, British Columbia edition. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/health-officials-update-april-20-1.5538923.

Linnett, Carol. 2020. “B.C. Failed to Consider Links between ‘Man Camps,’ Violence against Indigenous Women, Wet’suwet’en Argue.” The Narwhal, February 8, 2020. https://thenarwhal.ca/b-c-failed-to-consider-links-between-man-camps-violence-against-indigenous-women-wetsuweten-argue/.

LNG Canada. 2020. “March 27 - COVID-19 Update.” March 27, 2020. https://www.lngcanada.ca/news/covid-19-response-update-4/.

Manning, Susan, Patricia Nash, Leah Levac, Deborah Stienstra, and Jane Stinson. 2018. “A Literature Synthesis Report on the Impacts of Resource Extraction for Indigenous Women.” Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women. http://fnn.criaw-icref.ca/images/userfiles/files/REVISED%20Literature%20Synthesis%20Report_CEAA_Jan2019.pdf.

Manuel, Doreen. 2020. Tiny House Under Attack. Blue River, BC. Video, 5:48.  https://vimeo.com/411293775?fbclid=IwAR0qTh7d5DFWavptW0IousZXZ80ro5UDmKDp3Cl9oKU2EuEi9Jk3-etG6mg.

Million, Dian. 2013. Therapeutic Nations: Healing in an Age of Indigenous Human Rights. Phoenix, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 2019a. “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” Volume 1a. https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Final_Report_Vol_1a-1.pdf.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 2019b. “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” Volume 1b. https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Final_Report_Vol_1b.pdf.

Pasternak, Shiri. 2015. “How Capitalism Will Save Colonialism: The Privatization of Reserve Lands in Canada.” Antipode Foundation: A Radical Geography Community 47 (1): 179–96.

Provincial Health Services Authority, and BC Centre for Disease Control. 2020. “British Columbia COVID-19 Dashboard.” May 21, 2020. https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/a6f23959a8b14bfa989e3cda29297ded.

Ritchot, Mélanie. 2021. “Sexual Harassment of Inuit Women at Mines No Surprise: Pauktuutit President.” Nunatsiaq News, April 9, 2021. https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/sexual-harassment-of-inuit-women-at-mines-no-surprise-pauktuutit-president/.

Ryser, Laura, and Greg Halseth. 2011. “Housing Costs in an Oil and Gas Boom Town: Issues for Low-Income Senior Women Living Alone.” Journal of Housing For the Elderly 25, no. 3: 306–25. https://doi.org/10.1080/02763893.2011.595618.

Spice, Anne. 2016. “Interrupting Industrial and Academic Extraction on Native Land.” Society for Cultural Anthropology, December. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/interrupting-industrial-and-academic-extraction-on-native-land.

Spice, Anne. 2018. “Fighting Invasive Infrastructures.” Environment and Society 9, no. 1: 40–56. https://doi.org/10.3167/ares.2018.090104.

Starblanket, Gina, and Dallas Hunt. 2020. “Indigenous Communities and COVID-19: The Virus May Not Discriminate, but Responses to It Do.” The Globe and Mail, March 27, 2020, sec. Opinion. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/amp/opinion/article-indigenous-communities-and-covid-19-the-virus-may-not-discriminate/?__twitter_impression=true.

Statistics Canada. 2019. “Census Profile, 2016 Census: Kitimat [Population Centre], British Columbia.” August 9, 2019. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=POPC&Code1=0420&Geo2=PR&Code2=59&Data=Count&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=All.

Sterritt, Angela. 2020. “COVID-19 Cases among First Nations in Some B.C. Regions Double Rest of Population.” CBC News, December 17, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/covid-19-cases-in-some-first-nations-double-non-first-nations-1.5845679.

Stienstra, Deborah, Leah Levac, Gail Baikie, Jane Stinson, Barbara Clow, and Susan Manning. 2016. “Gendered and Intersectional Implications of Energy and Resource Extraction in          Resource-Based Communities in Canada’s North.” Feminist Northern Network. http://fnn.criaw-icref.ca/images/userfiles/files/SSHRC%20KS%20Report.pdf.

Turner, Jerome. 2020. “As B.C. Eases Restrictions, Remote Indigenous Communities Fear Travel Could Bring COVID-19: Ban Hunting, Fishing, Non-Essential Travel, Indigenous Nations Tell Government.” Ricochet, May 16, 2020. https://ricochet.media/en/3122/as-bc-eases-restrictions-remote-indigenous-communities-fear-travel-could-bring-covid-19.

Trade and Invest British Columbia. n.d. “Mining.” nd. https://www.britishcolumbia.ca/invest/industry-sectors/mining/.

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. 2020a. “OPEN LETTER: Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project Must Be Halted Due to the COVID-19 Outbreak,” March 30, 2020. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ubcic/mailings/2802/attachments/original/2020March30_UBCIC_letter_re_C-19_CGL.pdf?1585550986.

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. 2020b. “Open Letter: Designation of Oil and Gas Work as ‘Non-Essential’ Is Critical for Protecting the Lives and Rights of Vulnerable First Nations Facing COVID-19,” December 8, 2020. https://www.ubcic.bc.ca/open_letter_designation_of_oil_and_gas_work_as_non_essential_is_critical_for_protecting_the_lives_and_rights_of_vulnerable_first_nations_facing_covid_19.

Unist’ot’en Camp. 2020. “Wet’suwet’en Women Urge Dr. Bonnie Henry to Shut Down Indistrial Camps Amid COVID Outbreaks.” December 2020. https://unistoten.camp/covidoutbreaks/.

Wet’suwet’en Dinï’z. 2020. “Re: Concerns about the Growing Numbers of COVID-19 Cases from Industrial Work Camps in Our Families,” December 5, 2020. http://www.wetsuweten.com/files/OW_Bonnie_Henry_Industrial_work_camps_concerns_Dec_5_2020.pdf.

Wet’suwet’en Ts’ako ze’ and Skiy ze’. 2020. “Urgent Concerns from Wet’suwet’en Ts’ako Ze’ and Skiy Ze’,” November 30, 2020. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KGqKl6Vq12KHxfQwnugQayt2Dps_eIV-LELtYXLjmmQ/edit.

Women’s Earth Alliance, and Native Youth Sexual Health Network. 2016. “Violence on the Land, Violence on Our Bodies: Building an Indigenous Response to Environmental Violence.” http://landbodydefense.org/uploads/files/VLVBReportToolkit2016.pdf.

Yazzie, Melanie K. 2018. “Decolonizing Development in Diné Bikeyah.” Environment and Society 9 (1): 25–39. https://doi.org/10.3167/ares.2018.090103.
Published
2021-08-02
How to Cite
Sloan Morgan, V., Hoogeveen, D., & de Leeuw, S. (2021). Industrial Camps in Northern British Columbia. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(4), 409-430. Retrieved from https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/2046