A new partnership between the Haisla and construction company Ledcor has been making waves in the last couple weeks.
The cooperation between the two groups has led to hands on job training and employment in many roles across Ledcor's operations in the Kitimat area.
“Ledcor has hired many members in varying roles from Heavy Equipment Operators, Safety Coordinators, Environmental Coordinators, Project Administrators and Labourers,” wrote Paula Smith, Haisla Nation Job Coach, in an email.
She said that the partnership came out of the Haisla's focus to partner with “organizations that can enhance our sustainability through employment of members and build capacity within the nation.”
“Ledcor offers our members growth opportunities in employment and training. The skills our Haisla people will learn on site with Ledcor are valuable to the employee, the employer, the nation and to the client,” she added.
Ledcor is a member of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, which works to “ensure fair access to work opportunities for (their) members by promoting a legislative framework and industry practices that establish a level playing field for all construction industry participants,” according to their website.
“One of the huge priorities that governments have these days, and First Nations have, is helping (First Nations) to share in the prosperity and the economic development that seems to happening all around,” said vice president of Policy and Advocacy at the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, Darrel Reid.
“Ledcor seems to be leading the charge, so they identified very quickly this need for dialogue with First Nations leadership, understanding what their needs are, and then building programs that actually meet those needs and provide long lasting employment for people in the community.”
Quentin Huillery, Ledcor senior vice president, said that the decision to partner with the Haisla developed from a number of different angles.
“From a business point of view, we knew that we wanted to be involved in the LNG sector and some of the other developments that were going on in that region... and more importantly we looked at the relationships that were available and possible in the region,” he explained.
“When we started to get to know the Haisla folks, it was very confirming for us in that there was an immediate display of strong business integrity,” he added. “What we really liked was the fact that the Haisla were keen to partner with only one partner in each of the different sectors, and for construction, they chose us.”
Smith, Reid, and Huillery all said they would recommend organizational partnerships with First Nations across the country.
“Our goal has been to train and educate our Haisla members and who better to do that then the companies with the expertise. When these projects end we still have a community who needs people with knowledge and skills in specialized areas,” wrote Smith.
“From our perspective, our relationship with the Haisla stands above, they operate with a tremendous amount of integrity and business ethics,” said Huillery. “We would for sure recommend something for ourselves if we get into another First Nation in another region, (and) for any other company considering doing the same.”
“Our key philosophy is that relationships matter, respect matters. First Nations obviously deserve to be full partners in the economic development that we're seeing (in western Canada,) explained Reid.
Haisla members have been working with Ledcor on the LNG Canada site, as well as a number of other projects in the area.