The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says engaging local First Nations communities in the resource sector is key to Canada’s competitive edge.
The chamber is pushing for policies and initiatives that will encourage more partnerships and more aboriginal-owned resource companies. The conclusions are contained in an extensive report conducted by the chamber and released this week.
The report is called “Aboriginal Edge: How Aboriginal Peoples and Natural Resource Businesses are Forging a New Competitive Advantage.”
In Saskatchewan, Cameco and PotashCorp are two examples of companies that are working with the aboriginal community to the advantage of both groups, said chamber vice president Warren Everson.
Everson sees it as a growing trend.
“The message in my membership is, ‘this can be done,’” he said. “You can make it work, you can get the benefits from it. There are people succeeding from it, reaching out to aboriginal communities, building a workforce and developing loyal relationships back and forth.”
Success stories are often hidden, while attention is often focused on confrontation over resource development, Everson said.
“There are going to be times when the local population does not support a project,” he said. “They will have their reasons for that and we have a regulatory process that will try to remedy that, but what is tragic is when they kind of don’t mind that a project is happening but they are not getting the benefits they might get.”
The report looked at five areas of resource development: investment, employment, supply chains, community investment and environmental protection.
The chamber will be using the report to develop specific recommendations to ensure governments have the programs and processes in place to include aboriginal communities in resource development as well as programs to help aboriginals set up their own resource-based companies.
To read the full report, click here: www.chamber.ca