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Performance Area: Strengthen relationships among Aboriginal Peoples and all Canadians, starting with Suncor
We can do more to learn about the history and experiences of Aboriginal Peoples, so that we can better understand one another.
We commit to providing our employees with more training and also more opportunities to participate in cultural experiences. We will measure changes in understanding and behaviours – within Suncor and through the work of the Suncor Energy Foundation’s key partners, like Indspire, Bridges Social Development and Reconciliation Canada.
Strengthening relationships will be an evolution for each of us at Suncor and we have designed many supporting initiatives to enable our employees along the way. We’re focusing on four key areas:
- increasing awareness
- building understanding
- shifting attitudes
- changing behaviours
Aboriginal awareness training
At the end of 2015, we launched our new web-based training to ensure that every employee can have a basic level of awareness about the history and experiences of Aboriginal Peoples across Canada. We developed our own training with input and guidance from partners such as Reconciliation Canada and also our own Aboriginal employees. The training features their stories and perspectives, which has made the information and messages more relatable.
In 2016, approximately 2,200 employees completed the Aboriginal awareness web-based training.
We also offer a more comprehensive classroom session that expands on the awareness created through the web-based training. It builds understanding about the historic and current relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and all Canadians through storytelling and meaningful discussion.
Aboriginal employee network
Suncor’s Aboriginal Employee Network (AEN) is our employee resource group that supports advancing Aboriginal inclusion at Suncor. The network is structured around four focus areas, called circles. The Aboriginal Awareness Circle specifically supports cross-cultural sharing by increasing awareness and understanding within Suncor of Aboriginal experiences.
Experiential learning opportunities
We are creating opportunities for employees across Suncor to participate in cultural learning experiences. These experiences enable direct engagement and cultural exchange between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Examples include participating in community events, such as Treaty Days, or volunteering for specific initiatives, such as leading business development workshops through our partnership with Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA).
Mikisew Cree First Nation Cultural Retreat
Held from Aug. 22-24, 2016 in Fort Chipewyan, the cultural retreat was organized to bring members of the community and local energy companies together to develop connections, cultural understanding and, ultimately, have fun along the way.
Visitors to the community took part in educational and interactive activities, such as best bull and cow moose calls, Cree language challenge, crib tournament, jigging, and arts and crafts as part of the two-day event.
“It is important to participate in the communities to develop an understanding of Aboriginal culture and values,” says Angela Pohl, senior advisor, stakeholder and Aboriginal relations, Wood Buffalo. “Through these opportunities, we develop stronger relationships. There is mutual trust and respect when you have a personal connection.”
The ideal outcome is that industry members will share their positive experiences and new insight into Aboriginal traditional values and connection with the land with their co-workers and industry partners.
Ultimately, involvement in the community can accomplish what a meeting in a boardroom cannot. We need to learn from communities near our operations to understand and better consider their needs and interests.
Growing awareness and understanding, one employee at a time
Aboriginal awareness training is a key way we’re enabling every employee at Suncor to learn more about the history and experience of Aboriginal Peoples. Employees across Canada who’ve taken the training have given some great feedback. Here are just a few samples of what they said:
- I like the fact I am walking away appreciating our history as a country and not treating this as only the First Nations history; we had a role in making the history and we have a role in making a better future for all Canadians regardless of background. – Calgary
- Wow, to be honest, I never really thought of Aboriginal relations in my personal life until I saw this video. It was a glimpse of how much I didn't know that I didn’t know. . . It inspired me to learn more about the culture and how I can help bridge the gap. Thank you. – Mississauga
- It was an emotional experience going from learning the issues, to feeling ashamed of our past, and to feeling proud to be in a company that is really trying to make a difference. – Fort McMurray
Beyond Aboriginal awareness training, we spent some time in 2016 to ensure that more opportunities were available for employees to become engaged and to learn more about the history and experiences of Aboriginal Peoples. For example, beyond the AEN and opportunities for cultural experiential learning, we:
- created a new employee section on our intranet that highlights a wide variety of topical resources such as books, movies, websites, music and podcasts
- distribute a community update e-newsletter that profiles an AEN member, provides updates on the work of each of the AEN Circles and includes a cultural awareness moment along with other relevant news
- maintain a calendar of events so that employees across Suncor can see upcoming opportunities and get involved
Measuring our progress
As with the supporting initiatives, we’re measuring relationship building in a number of ways along the journey. Internally, we’re measuring awareness building and changing attitudes through the number of participants attending the online and classroom-based Aboriginal awareness training, as well as conducting pre and post-surveys. We’ll also be using developmental evaluation to assess the effectiveness of our work, to look for shifts in perception, attitudes and behaviours, as well as identify emerging opportunities.