Our focus on advancing Indigenous workforce participation is strengthened by the numerous collaborative partnerships and relationships we continue to build with Indigenous communities, leaders and teams within Suncor, and external stakeholder groups and agencies who share similar goals. We recognize we have more work to do in this area, and continue to listen, learn, and engage with others to make positive changes.
Indigenous Student Program
The Indigenous Student Program (ISP) supports our social goal of building greater mutual trust and respect with Indigenous Peoples in Canada and aligns with our belief that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. This program offers Indigenous students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience at one of our locations. It is open to Indigenous students who are starting or returning to a post-secondary program on a full-time basis in September.
In 2018, participation in the program grew 400%, from 17 students in 2017 to 72 students. Students worked in roles in many areas of Suncor, including Sarnia, Edmonton, St. John’s, Calgary and Wood Buffalo.
Here are a few reflections from participants:
"It felt great to be a part of the team, and to see the difference that I was able to make in a short period of time. I learned so much, and working here has opened my mind to new possibilities that I never thought I could be a part of." – Sarnia participant
"For once I did not feel ‘used’ or a ‘token’ at a company. I felt valued as an employee and there was never a question of that." – Wood Buffalo participant
Indigenous workforce development advisor
Our Indigenous workforce development advisor works directly with Indigenous communities in Alberta’s Wood Buffalo region to understand community needs and initiatives, share information on Suncor’s workforce needs, and collaborate to strengthen the employment readiness of potential Indigenous candidates.
Fort McKay First Nation (FMFN) is one of many communities the advisor works with. Noma Mangena, a member of FMFN’s Skills, Employment and Training (SET) committee, reflects “It’s helped make us aware of near and long-term employment needs, find out about career and job fair information sessions and scholarship opportunities, and connect job seekers with Suncor team members.”
The advisor also provides insights, advice and Indigenous wisdom to Suncor leaders and teams across the enterprise, to help them build trusting relationships with local Indigenous communities, and ensure people and workplace processes, programs and strategies support Indigenous inclusion.
Greater Aboriginal Participation Partnership (GAPP)
In 2018, an opportunity was identified to work collaboratively with key contractors to facilitate and provide contractor employment opportunities for Indigenous Peoples in the Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB).
In partnership with Ledcor, CEDA, the Athabasca Tribal Council, Rupertsland Institute and Keyano College, we developed a pilot, the Greater Aboriginal Participation Partnership (GAPP).
Twelve participants have been recruited to the five-week program, which, through work at either Ledcor or CEDA, provides an introduction to the business skills and technical training needed for specific roles in the oil and gas industry. Suncor provided project management, facilitation, and Indigenous workforce development expertise to support the pilot.
Following the pilot, evaluation of the GAPP’s performance indicators will determine how this initiative could be converted to a more sustainable and ongoing program.
Indigenous mentorship program
Suncor’s Indigenous mentorship program creates opportunities for shared learning among Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees, while supporting career development and success. It contributes to an inclusive environment and positive work experiences, and provides learning opportunities for those wanting to increase their knowledge of Indigenous culture, history and lived experiences.
The program is rooted in “friendship, guidance, direction and support,” and focuses on four aspects of well-being in the workplace: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. We reviewed the program in 2018, with a 2019 goal to increase participation and bring together more western and Indigenous ways of knowing in the program.
Aboriginal Employee Network
The Aboriginal Employee Network is an employee resource group developed by and for Suncor employees wanting to play a part in advancing Indigenous inclusion and creating a safe and supportive workplace culture for Indigenous employees. The network has grown to more than 700 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members since its launch in the summer of 2015. The network is structured around four focus areas being advanced by small work teams called circles. Each circle has five to eight members from across Suncor’s businesses who meet regularly to develop programs and initiatives:
- Aboriginal Community Circle: build a community of support for Indigenous employees at Suncor
- Aboriginal Outreach Circle: develop a pool of Suncor ambassadors to visit Indigenous communities, with a focus on youth
- Aboriginal Advisory Circle: create a way for Indigenous employees to advise Suncor on how the company works with Indigenous Peoples
- Aboriginal Awareness Circle: to increase awareness and understanding within Suncor of Indigenous experiences