One of the most critical issues facing the natural resources sector is engaging and involving the Aboriginal communities that live near or on the land where projects need to operate.
This is one of the first steps companies must take in achieving the legal and social licence needed to extract, develop and transport our resources to markets. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always worked out very well.
There have been many instances where Aboriginal communities and corporations fail to find common ground, sometimes even leading to confrontation and often getting media attention. There’s another side to that story, though—the multitude of projects made possible by successful collaborations.
Today, we are releasing a report outlining these success stories, entitled Aboriginal Edge: How Aboriginal Peoples and Natural Resource Businesses Are Forging a New Competitive Advantage. Our report noted that there are already more Aboriginal people employed or who own businesses in the natural resources sector than in any other sector, and this has positive impacts in communities across the country.
Examples range from a sawmill owned and operated jointly by the Atikamekw Council of Obedjiwan and Resolute Forest Products in Quebec to specialized training programs on heavy equipment simulators in four remote northern Alberta communities, financed by Syncrude and the Government of Canada.
Not everything is perfect, and there is still a long way to go. But if the positive examples outlined in the report can lead to other collaborative projects, it could set an important trend for Canada. This trend could contribute to providing Canada with an edge in the global marketplace, something we definitely need as stated in our electoral platform A Canada That Wins.
As our report shows, everyone benefits when a successful collaboration is established between natural resource companies and Aboriginal communities.