Partnering with Aboriginal businesses - Suncor’s 2014 Report on sustainability

Partnering with Aboriginal businesses - Suncor’s 2014 Report on sustainability

Partnering with Aboriginal businesses - Suncor’s 2014 Report on sustainability

Partnering with Aboriginal businesses - Suncor’s 2014 Report on sustainability

View the latest Report on Sustainability

Partnering with Aboriginal businesses

On this page :

Over the years, we have worked closely with Aboriginal communities to mutual benefit by identifying business opportunities that allow us to tap into local skills and expertise.

In 2013, we spent more than $431 million with Aboriginal businesses almost doubling our efforts since 2011 alone, and bringing our total to almost $2.5 billion since 1999. Wood Buffalo, home to our oil sands operations, currently accounts for the vast majority of our total Aboriginal spend. Increasingly, we are also working on opportunities to partner with Aboriginal businesses across Canada.

We recognize that supporting Aboriginal businesses and communities is about more than direct purchases of goods and services; it also means working collaboratively with our Aboriginal partners to build the winning conditions that result in mutually beneficial economic development.

In 2013, we continued to implement our Aboriginal Economic Collaboration strategy, which is based around four strategic pillars. What follows is a brief discussion of our progress and plans, in each of those target areas.

Pillar 1: Proactive Aboriginal business development

We see tremendous opportunity in working with Aboriginal businesses across Canada, and our Aboriginal business development team is taking the lessons learned from our success in Wood Buffalo and sharing those best practices across our organization. In 2013, we nearly doubled the annual revenue directed to Aboriginal businesses in the Wood Buffalo region by working collaboratively to identify new opportunities and build new relationships in the Aboriginal business community.

For us, procurement is only one piece of the puzzle. Our Petro-Canada retail brand currently has 17 fuelling stations with First Nations across Canada and is actively pursuing expansion opportunities. In fact, Petro-Canada has set targets year-over-year since 2011 to establish new partnerships with Aboriginal communities.

“Developing relationships with First Nations associates is really a win-win situation,” says Alex Janavicius, director of business development. “Aboriginal communities in Canada present a real business opportunity for Petro-Canada expansion and, at the same time, this is a way for us to support economic development and increase business capacity in these communities.”

Pillar 2: Respectful relationships and capability development

We recognize that developing the knowledge and skills of our employees and contractors is part of building strong relationships with Aboriginal communities. As a result, we offer Aboriginal awareness training for employees who work closely with Aboriginal communities and businesses. In 2013, about 300 people participated in this awareness training.

We also provide support and mentorship for our Aboriginal suppliers by sharing policies and procedures and helping them build and integrate internal safety programs. In 2013, we also engaged some Aboriginal partners in our supplier performance management program, which includes setting up two-way scorecards for both parties to comment on the relationship.

Pillar 3: Community-driven economic development

To be successful, economic development opportunities should reflect the skills, needs and goals of each unique community. In other words, it needs to be community-driven.

A good example of this kind of development is the business incubator on the Tsuu T'ina First Nation near Calgary, which was launched after two women from the First Nation approached us in 2011 for financial support for the initiative. In 2013, the incubator expanded its programming to include support for business literacy, business plan writing, finance and budget management, as well as marketing and communications. We worked closely with the staff to help them diversify their funding sources. At the end of 2013, we were in conversation about how to link interested employees with entrepreneurs for mentorship opportunities.

“This program exemplifies community-driven development,” says Rose Bilou, senior advisor, stakeholder and Aboriginal relations. “We see our role here as a supporting one – to facilitate connections and support the incubator in nurturing the spirit of entrepreneurship that is actually rooted in the culture of that community.”

Pillar 4: Meaningful partnership and collaboration

We were a founding partner of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA) in 1983 and we were proud to be a title sponsor when the NAABA celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013. We regularly attend NAABA general meetings and industry meetings, and have a close working relationship with the organization.

We are also proud to have partnered with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) to launch the Certified Aboriginal Business program in 2013. This national directory links industry, government and other organizations with businesses that are certified as 51% or more owned and controlled by Aboriginal persons.

“Aboriginal businesses know the customs, environment and needs of their communities better than anyone else,” says Gary Hart, senior vice president, supply chain and field logistics. “We’ve found that knowledge to be invaluable in our relationships with Aboriginal suppliers in the Wood Buffalo region, and we hope the CCAB platform can help us engage more Aboriginal businesses across Canada.”

Measuring our success

We applied to become certified through the CCAB’s Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program in 2014. The PAR certification process includes an independent review of Aboriginal relations activities in four key performance areas, including employment and business development. We see this certification process as another step in our ongoing commitment to partner with Aboriginal businesses, promote prosperity in Aboriginal communities and be an employer Aboriginal Peoples want to work for.

Here are some other examples of economic collaboration in action:

Expand all | Collapse all

Bringing partners together in Wood Buffalo

In 2013, our Regional Business Development team aligned two partners to do some exciting work. We connected an MBA candidate at Royal Roads University, who is also a seasoned general manager at Reward Oilfield Services, with the group of companies owned and operated by the Mikisew Cree First Nation in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

As part of completing his MBA requirements, the candidate will provide management consulting services to the Mikisew Group in exchange for credits toward his degree. Working under the leadership of the CEO of the Mikisew Group of Companies, the partners will jointly develop a strategy for asset management.

This partnership offers a unique opportunity for the MBA candidate to hone his skills by reviewing key assets and their classification, optimizing maintenance schedules and developing a plan for new opportunities (i.e., the right assets in the right location for the right projects). At the same time, the Mikisew Group of Companies will benefit from a professional consultant’s report.

We are proud to be a partner in this project. Our role isn’t just about new business opportunities; it’s also about growing business capacity.

Supporting business development in the Far North

Increasingly, mining and other resource extraction companies are doing development work in Canada’s Far North. This is opening up new opportunities to partner with Aboriginal communities.

Through our Petro-Canada brand, we supply bulk fuel and lubricants to a number of industrial operations across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. One of our partners is Baker Lake Contracting and Supplies (BLCS), an Aboriginal-owned business located in Baker Lake, Nunavut.

BLCS provides a variety of services to the community, including accommodations, construction, maintenance, building and equipment repair, and vehicle and equipment rentals. We have worked with BLCS since 2011 to serve the lubricants needs for the Agnico-Eagle Meadowbank Mine, located 110 kilometres north of Baker Lake.

In 2013, BLCS was named Nunavut’s Entrepreneur of the Year at the inaugural Frozen Globe Awards, which are sponsored by Up Here Magazine to recognize business achievements in all three of Canada’s territories. BLCS also won the top prize of Northern Entrepreneur of the Year.

Partnering with the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan

Through our Petro-Canada brand, we have partnered with the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) in northern Saskatchewan since 2005. Today, PBCN manages three Petro-Canada retail stations in Prince Albert and Creighton, Sask.

The PBCN stations have brought tremendous value to the Petro-Canada retail model. PBCN designed a unique vault for safe storage and inventory management of tobacco products in high-volume stores – a system that has become a model for other First Nation retail associates. PBCN successfully employs many First Nation members at their retail stations and the PBCN’s trainer has become Petro-Canada’s primary trainer for all new First Nation retail sites.

In 2013, PBCN was recognized for outstanding performance by Petro-Canada, receiving two awards: an image award for store layout, cleanliness and overall impression, and an exceptional contributor award for overall performance, teamwork and leadership. PBCN continues to be a top performer; in fact, of all the Petro-Canada retail sites in Saskatchewan, PBCN operates some of the top volume sites.

In addition to generating positive economic returns for the First Nation, this partnership has contributed to job creation and capability development in the community. It is for exactly these reasons we continue to proactively pursue similar opportunities with other First Nations across Canada.