Today, Aboriginal communities are key partners in resource development projects around the world. Companies increasingly understand the importance of fostering strong relationships, sharing project benefits and building capacity in Indigenous communities to promote mutual success.
At SNC-Lavalin, we’ve been engaging with Aboriginal communities on behalf of our clients in a fair and inclusive way since the 1980s. We leverage our experience and know-how to ensure that these partnerships generate significant value for all.
Effective dialogue, consultation and relationships with Aboriginal peoples create numerous benefits for our clients, including:
- Enhancing project sustainability (design and execution)
- Facilitating the project permit and approval process
- Improving project profitability
- Strengthening local communities
- Building client credibility and reputation as a ‘partner of choice’
Benefits to Aboriginal peoples include:
- Building local capacity, opportunities and wealth
- Training an Aboriginal workforce
- Developing Aboriginal-owned businesses
- Respecting their role as stewards of the land
Maximizing Aboriginal inclusion
Since the early 2000s, we’ve systematically engaged with clients and partners to better integrate Aboriginal peoples into our clients’ project training, employment and procurement activities across diverse business sectors. Recent project examples include:
- John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project in British Columbia
- Evergreen Line rapid transit system in British Columbia
- Husky Oil projects in Alberta
- Eléonore Gold Project in Quebec
- Keewatinohk Switchyard Project in Manitoba
- Brunway Highway in New Brunswick
- Champlain Bridge in Québec
Through our efforts on these projects, we’ve facilitated the training and employment of hundreds of Aboriginal people. We’ve also coordinated the procurement of millions of dollars in goods and services from local and regional Aboriginal businesses.
Among other initiatives, we also attended a number of career and youth career fairs in 2016 to help clients such as Bruce Power, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan and Ontario Power Generation boost Aboriginal involvement in their projects.
Our know-how in Aboriginal relations is a key competitive advantage. So are our partnerships and board memberships with national organizations like the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Inclusion Works (previously the Aboriginal Human Resource Council) and Aboriginal HIPPY Canada. Our contributions help build business best practices in Aboriginal employment and procurement.
We also contribute thought leadership by being part of the faculty in the national 20/20 Catalysts program. This program provides business management tools to Aboriginal leaders involved in developing renewable energy.
Along with our partner IBM Canada, we’ve developed and delivered IGNITE science and technology camps for Aboriginal elementary school students across Canada. Together we create the curriculum and provide the materials, and our staff representatives deliver hands-on workshops at the two-day camps. Workshop topics include water treatment, bridge building, electronic circuit boards and financial literacy. The camps enable us to transfer science and technology knowledge to youth while encouraging them to stay in school and continue studying math.
In 2016, we sponsored the start-up of an Aboriginal HIPPY site in Toronto, Ontario, to help pre-school children in 20 urban ‘at-risk’ Aboriginal families develop literacy skills. In 2017, we’ll help develop similar sites aimed at native language revitalization in remote northern Ontario. Aboriginal HIPPY Canada is an organization dedicated to bringing culturally relevant teaching and learning to Aboriginal children and their families.
Enhancing community quality of life
In 2016, we worked with four remote First Nations communities in northern Ontario, as well as the governments of Canada and Ontario, to prepare a pre-feasibility study for an all-season road that would connect the communities to the provincial highway system. In addition to technical analyses, we engaged extensively with community members, including youth, elders and other leaders, to assess the challenges and opportunities as they see them.
We examined a broad range of social, cultural, environmental and economic issues, including options for the road’s route, ownership and operation. Discussions are ongoing and continue to involve significant community and government dialogue. We’re proud to be part of this important community-based infrastructure project.
In 2016, we supported the advancement of Indigenous youth, graduates and businesses by sponsoring First Nations leadership meetings as well as trade shows, conferences, cultural festivals and youth camps. Specific sponsorships included:
- Inclusion Works, Canada’s premier Indigenous workplace inclusion event
- The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business’s national aboriginal business and entrepreneur awards
- Indspire’s annual youth achievement awards
- The Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund’s annual Aboriginal business awards
- The 6th Annual World Indigenous Business Forum, held for the first time in Canada
- The Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association’s annual conference and trade show
- CANDO’s national Aboriginal youth forum on economic development
- A PhD student of Aboriginal decent at Ontario’s Lakehead University Centre for Excellence in Sustainable Mining and Exploration
We’ll continue to develop and market our Local Resource Development Initiative (LRDI™) as we look to foster a culture of Aboriginal inclusion on all our projects, small and large, through training, employment and procurement. Supporting national and regional Aboriginal organizations that actively promote Aboriginal business success will remain a priority. We’ll also continue to seek opportunities to partner with Aboriginal companies and develop projects of mutual interest.