Our partners and youth have taught us that organizations and programs rooted in culture and reconciliation lead to pride in self, culture and create a path towards success. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders – that’s why we’re focused on building stronger connections with Aboriginal youth.
Through the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF), we are supporting our partner organizations working towards innovative solutions for Aboriginal communities such as youth engagement, cultural opportunities and leadership/education programs to provide pathways towards a successful future.
It starts with partners who share our vision. Through the SEF funding strategy, we believe we can be a catalyst, working with others, and connecting and supporting our communities. Some partners leading change in our community include:
- Bridges Social Development – works with Aboriginal youth in southern Alberta to find their purpose and voice while developing community leadership opportunities
- Actua – inspires youth in Aboriginal communities across Canada to see science, technology and math as a potential career path by using connection to culture and communities
- Indspire – provides opportunity for Suncor to invite Aboriginal students from our operating communities to the Indspire Awards and meet the inspiring award recipients for a life-changing experience
- Learning Through the Arts – works with Aboriginal students in the Wood Buffalo region to use arts and culture as tools to understand curriculum and has significantly improved graduation rates in the region
Supporting development of future Aboriginal leaders
Suncor has been supporting the Indigenous Leadership and Management programs at the Banff Centre since 2002. The programs cover subject matter such as governance, negotiation and planning.
In 2017, Suncor provided funding for several members of the Stoney/Nakoda Youth Council to attend Indigenous Leadership and Management programs. The Stoney/Nakoda First Nation is located in Morley, Alberta, 60 kilometres west of Calgary and includes members of the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley Nations. The Stoney/Nakoda Youth Council was founded in 2014, with a goal of revitalizing culture and bridging the gap between youth and Elders.
"Suncor Energy Foundation has supported me greatly in building my capacity as a Nakoda youth leader to be a recipient of the Banff Centre Certificate of Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence,” reflects participant and Stoney/Nakoda Youth Council member Daryl Kootenay. “With the knowledge, skills, and support received, I feel more confident now than ever in being a provider for my family, community, and Nations as my ancestors did.”
The Banff Centre has also learned from the involvement of Stoney/Nakoda Youth Council members in the program.
“During our time together we have seen the youth shine as they influenced positive change in their communities and gained new competencies to supplement their leadership practices,” says Alexia McKinnon, associate director of Indigenous leadership at the Banff Centre. “These youth are the strength of their community and are inspiring others to create a new collective story of empowerment.”
Measuring our progress
In 2017, we measured year-over-year increases in two areas:
- The number of opportunities for youth leadership training and experiences
- The number of opportunities for Suncor employee and youth interactions
In 2018, we are re-evaluating our measurements to ensure we are driving positive outcomes with respect to supporting Aboriginal youth leadership potential. Future years may include further use of story-telling, to demonstrate how we are supporting the progress of Aboriginal youth.
We’ll continue to measure much of this work through our engagement with our SEF transformative community partners. We also continue work with our own employees through the Aboriginal Employee Network (AEN).
In 2017, the AEN’s Outreach Circle developed an AEN ambassador program. The program is designed to create meaningful interactions between ambassadors representing a broad cross-section of our Aboriginal employees and youth in schools and communities.