What Are Man Camps?

Man camps are temporary housing facilities constructed for predominantly male workers on resource development projects in the oil, pipeline, mining, hydroelectric, and forestry industries. Reports show a direct correlation between these encampments and violence against women.

Located on Indigenous territories, away from cities, and often in close proximity to Indigenous communities, resource projects bring an influx of mostly non-Indigenous, mostly cisgendered male workers who come to the territory to profit from the resource economy, in some cases more than doubling the local population. Sometimes called “work camps,” “industrial camps,” or more commonly, “man camps,” large-scale facilities are set up to house this “shadow population” of transient men. Man camp accommodations can range from RVs and trailers, to lodges, to barracks-style portables. While some are designed to be company-regulated, self-sufficient “communities,” with dining, laundry, and recreational facilities, communities have also reported undocumented, unregulated camps, on land rented out by local ranchers or farmers.

“Camp culture” has been reported to exacerbate isolation, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, misogyny, and racism among the men living there. Away from family, friends, and social supports, these men face stressful, difficult, and potentially dangerous working conditions, including long hours, shift work, and ‘two-week in, two-week out’ work schedules. In this environment, and with heightened disposable incomes, increased substance abuse is well documented. Amidst a culture of “hyper-masculinity, sexism, and apathy towards self-care” direct and indirect impacts shift onto women, children, and two-spirit people.

Impacts on women include higher levels of sexual assault and harassment, and family and domestic violence. Increased gender inequality as a result of high wages for resource sector workers that drive up food and housing prices, while straining community services put women and two-spirit people into even more economically precarious situations where they are increasingly dependent on male partners and family members. Meanwhile, environmental assessments of resource projects in Canada have consistently failed to consider the impacts on Indigenous women. However, research, the media, and communities have become increasingly vocal about the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women, children, and two spirits as a result of the colonial capitalist resource sector.

Here is a sample of some of the research work that has been done:

Amnesty International (2016). Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Gender, Indigenous Rights, And Energy Development in Northeast British Columbia, Canada: https://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/Out%20of%20Sight%20Out%20of%20Mind%20ES%20FINAL%20EN%20CDA.pdf

Amnesty International (2017). The Point of No Return; The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada Threatened by the Site C Dam: https://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/Canada%20Site%20C%20Report.pdf

Clarice Eckford and Jillian Wagg for The Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society (2014). The Peace Project: Gender Based Analysis of Violence against Women and Girls in Fort St. John: https://thepeaceprojectfsj.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/the_peace_project_gender_based_analysis_amended.pdf

The Firelight Group with Lake Babine Nation and Nak’azdli Whut’en (2017). Indigenous Communities and Industrial Camps; Promoting Healthy Communities in Settings of Industrial Change: http://www.thefirelightgroup.com/thoushallnotpass/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Firelight-work-camps-Feb-8-2017_FINAL.pdf

Honour the Earth. Man Camps Fact Sheet; Chasing Out the Specter of Man Camps:


Karina Csyzewski and Frank Tester for the Canadian Women’s Foundation (2014). The Impact of Resource Extraction on Inuit Women and Families in Qamani-tuaq, Nunavut Territory: http://pauktuutit.ca/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/assets/Final-mining-report-PDF-for-web.pdf

Linda Archibald and Mary Crnkovich for Status of Women Canada (1999). If Gender Mattered: A Case Study of Inuit Women, Land Claims and the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Project: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/SW21-39-1999E.pdf

Mining Watch (2014). Overburdened: understanding the impacts of mineral extraction on women’s health in a mining community: http://www.acee-ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents_staticpost/cearref_3394/KPC-058.pdf

The Mokami Status of Women Council and FemNorthNet (2011). Out of the Rhetoric and Into the Reality of Local Women’s Lives; Submission to the Environmental Assessment Panel on the Lower Churchill Hydro Development: http://fnn.criaw-icref.ca/images/userfiles/files/OutoftheRhetoric.pdf

Pamela Palmater (2017). Public inquiry needed to address sexualized violence in policing and corrections system:


Pamela Palmater (2016). Shining Light on the Dark Places: Addressing Police Racism and Sexualized Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls in the National Inquiry:


Pamela Palmater for Working It Out Together: A Magazine for Contemporary Indigenous Voices. Sexualized Genocide
How can the MMIWG crisis still be thriving in a country as nice as Canada? Reasons abound…:


Victoria Sweet (2014). Extracting More Than Resources: Human Security and Arctic Indigenous Women: http://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2242&context=sulr

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

Photos and videos:

National Geographic, photos by Eugene Richards. “The New Oil Landscape”: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/bakken-shale-oil/richards-photography#/15-common-kitchen-story-swap-670.jpg

Slate, photos by Kyle Cassidy. “Inside the Temporary Homes of North Dakota Oil Workers”: http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2016/03/14/kyle_cassidy_photographs_the_homes_of_oil_workers_in_north_dakota_in_the.html

Associated Press. “Video Essay: Life in an Oil Field ‘Man Camp’”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbGg57r9wK0

In the News:

The Atlantic (2013). “On Indian Land, Criminals Can Get Away With Almost Anything”: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/02/on-indian-land-criminals-can-get-away-with-almost-anything/273391/

Huffington Post (Oct 5, 2013. “Man Camps and Predator Economics Threaten Heartland Native Communities”: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/georgianne-nienaber/man-camps-and-predator-ec_b_3700640.html

Indian Country Today (Aug 28 2013). “Brave Heart Women Fight to Ban Man-Camps, Which Bring Rape and Abuse”: https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/brave-heart-women-fight-to-ban-man-camps-which-bring-rape-and-abuse/

Indian Country Today (Jan 27 2014). “Will Keystone XL Pipeline Pump Sexual Violence Into South Dakota?”: https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/health-wellness/will-keystone-xl-pipeline-pump-sexual-violence-into-south-dakota/

Lakota Country Times (2014). “Firsthand Account of Man Camp in North Dakota from Local Tribal Cop”: http://www.lakotacountrytimes.com/news/2014-05-22/Front_Page/Firsthand_Account_Of_Man_Camp_In_North_Dakota_From.html

Native News Online (Jan 21 2014). “UN Special Rapporteur: Oil, Gas & Mining Operations Brings Increased Sexual Violence”: http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/un-special-rapporteur-oil-gas-mining-operations-brings-increased-sexual-violence/

Telesur (August 16, 2016). “Corporate Conquistadors Rape Indigenous Lands and Bodies”:


The Toronto Star (April 3 2016). “Fort St. John ‘a dangerous place for our women,’ indigenous activist says”: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/04/03/fort-st-john-a-dangerous-place-for-our-women-indigenous-activist-says.html

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