To develop resources anywhere in the world today, we must foster strong relationships, share project benefits and build capacity in Aboriginal communities. At SNC-Lavalin, we’ve developed a solid reputation and track record in helping clients engage and partner with Aboriginal communities in a fair and inclusive way. This has served to strengthen the Canadian Aboriginal business community and the economies of communities where we do projects.
In the 1990s, we became the first Canadian engineering and construction company to partner with a First Nations group to deliver the Diavik Diamond Mine Project in the Northwest Territories. Over time, we saw how these relationships add significant value for both clients and Aboriginal groups. Our growing experience has led to best practices in Aboriginal employment and procurement.
Effective dialogue, consultation and relationships with Aboriginal peoples create numerous benefits for our clients. They include:
- 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
Key competitive advantage
Today, our know-how in Aboriginal relations is a key competitive advantage. It has driven sharp increases in Aboriginal employment and procurement across all of our major projects.
Through dynamic partnerships and board membership with national organizations like the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and the Aboriginal Human Resource Council, we continue to network and engage with Aboriginal leaders. We’re also increasing our knowledge of and contribution to business best practices.
Maximizing Aboriginal inclusion
In 2014, we helped our clients maximize Aboriginal inclusion on several projects, including the:
- John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project on Vancouver Island, British Columbia
- Evergreen Line rapid transit system in Vancouver, British Columbia
- Husky Oil projects in Alberta
- Eléonore Gold Project in Quebec
- Keewatinohk Switchyard Project in Manitoba
We facilitated the training and employment of hundreds of Aboriginal people on these projects. We also coordinated the procurement of millions of dollars in goods and services from local and regional Aboriginal businesses.
In 2015, our contributions to the Aboriginal community continued to reach far and wide across Canada. They serve to advance and facilitate success in the Aboriginal business community. We sponsored regional, provincial and national Chief meetings as well as trade shows, conferences, cultural festivals and youth camps. Ongoing sponsorships included the Human Resources Council’s Indigenous Works youth career fair and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business national awards. We also made a 2-year commitment to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, to financially support a Ph.D. student of aboriginal decent, in his or her pursuit of a thesis around sustainability. Support of a different nature came through our support of Reconciliation Canada’s National Gathering, and the Squamish Nation gathering in support of residential school survivors.
Our multi-year support continued in the development and execution of IGNITE science and technology camps for aboriginal elementary school youth. In early 2016 we participated in our sixth camp at the Lac Seul First Nation in northwestern Ontario. In early summer we participated in our seventh IGNITE camp in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We are also sponsoring the development of a national aboriginal youth forum on economic development, to be hosted by the national aboriginal organization, CANDO, later in the year.
We’ll continue to develop and market our Local Resource Development Initiative as we look to develop a culture of Aboriginal inclusion on all of our projects, small and large. Supporting national and regional Aboriginal organizations that actively promote Aboriginal business success will also remain a priority. We will also continue to seek out opportunities to partner with Aboriginal companies and develop projects of mutual interest.