Northern Waterworks

by Frank Larue

Northern Waterworks Inc. (NWI) was established in 1997 as an aboriginal owned Water Authority.

“Due to our location in Northwestern Ontario, we saw first-hand the deplorable condition of water and wastewater treatment facilities. We therefore offered services to the remote northern communities in the vicinity, that lacked access to specialized trades and expertise. We were the Operating Authority of Municipal systems, so didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. We merely duplicated the municipal box we had built, and assisted interested First Nations in implementing our programs. We attempted to eliminate the two tier system that was developing in Ontario. Post Walkerton, the Provincial Government adopted legislation and accreditation to ensure the safety of residents; meanwhile, the Federal Government hadn’t kept pace.

Northern Waterworks Graphic

“Our relationship with the First Nation bands we have provided services to is excellent. As an aboriginal company, we understand and appreciate the process of community outreach. We engage both the community and leadership. It is a grass roots approach. Only through commitment from the operator, up through to Chief and Council, can any program achieve success. This has proven true time and time again. If we don’t have support of Chief and Council, we will typically not submit a tender bid. To do so would be to set the program up for failure. We have numerous First Nation programs rolled out in Ontario currently. Here is a snap shot of a couple programs currently being delivered by NWI. We provide 24/7 Technical Support and First Response Services to all Ontario First Nation Communities. Through this program of the Federal Government, we have responded to and mitigated more than 400-Emergency situations throughout the Province. We have provided this since 2011.

“We have provided Annual Performance Inspections, a mandatory risk assessment of the Federal Government for the past three years. This program has us perform on-site risk assessments, of all First Nation water and wastewater systems in Ontario. So we know first hand the true condition of First Nation systems. The main advantages are the relationships, and trust built, through 20-years of continuous service. Many organizations have a habit of attempting to enter the field, after Federal announcements of impending dollars being allocated to address the issue. We have a track record of service, and stability, backed by 20-years. Another advantage is knowledge of the systems. Through provision of services Province wide, we have first hand, on the ground experience with all systems in Ontario. When there is an emergency or critical failure, these files and experience are priceless.

“Remote, fly-in communities typically have no access to specialized trades. Further, a hardware store isn’t a block away with remote communities. Therefore access to required skilled trades, and supplies does not typically exist. We maintain a stacked warehouse full of parts, materials, and supplies for just that reason. We have the ability to be on-site within hours, complete with all required parts and supplies to mitigate and rectify. Common problems with communities throughout Ontario in general include a lack of local certified operators. Over the next three years, our goal is to assist in the development of a First Nation owned Water Authorities. We are working with a First Nation group to develop, from ground up, a Water Authority developed by First Nations, for First Nations. Over 20-years, we have dynamically developed and tuned our model, allowing us to duplicate a proven model.

“With Government policy ever changing, coupled with annual funding agreements, to take on the First Nation water crisis at its root is not sustainable. Skilled and Qualified operators are typically certified at Level 3 (Ontario: Operator-In-Training, Level I, Level II, Level III, Level IV). They have typically gained their experience through operation of municipal systems, and typically have 15+ years’ experience. This means they are some of the highest certified in the Province, have 15+ years’ experience, are near the top of their pay scale, and have significant time invested into a pension plan [almost all, if not all municipalities have pension plans and attractive benefit packages].

“Due to funding mechanisms of the Federal Government, funding agreements are typically annual, and must be renewed each year. It is near impossible to attract the qualified staff required, while offering the security of “one-year term contracts”. Rightfully so, these qualified personnel are just not willing to leave the security offered through municipal employment. NWI delivered the Circuit Rider Training Program (CRTP) for two years, throughout Ontario. This is a program of the Federal Government, standardized nationally, to provide technical assistance and ‘on-the-job-training’ or OJT, to First Nation communities throughout Canada. Annually, we had to give our trainers ‘lay-off notices’ while awaiting the Governments decision to fund CRTP another year or not. Of course, each annual cycle, we lost employees during this ‘wait and see’ period. Employees, which in many cases, took years to attract in the first place.

“While attending annual CRTP conferences, we have discussed this challenge with trainers from other provinces. It is not a challenge unique to NWI. Nationally, it appears as though almost all CRTP Service Providers are short qualified staff, with no additional capacity existing. So if capacity doesn’t exist for current programs, what will happen with the proposed implementation of new standards and regulations? We are scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, as is. Something needs to change… Long story short, what I am trying to say is that the system, as currently established, is destined to fail. We have tried for 20-years to work within this box, and it just doesn’t work. We are transferring our knowledge and capacity to First Nation Authorities. We are developing, in partnership with various stake holders, First Nation Water Authorities to allow NWI to focus on stable, municipal opportunities, which typically provide the stable 5-10 year contracts, allowing us to attract and retain qualified staff. Unfortunately this is the only viable model at present, and is now the objective of our 3-5 year business plan. Significant changes may be occurring behind the scenes, but I have personally not seen a change or improvement. To the contrary, in many ways, we have seen risks increase over the past couple of years.”

First Native Owned Winery a Success

by Frank Larue

Osoyoos First Nations Chief Clarence Louie has proved to be a visionary when it comes to business. The Osoyoos First Nations has built a spa and resort, rented out land to wineries, and made the first native owned winery in Canada and the United States. All projects have been successful. The Osoyoos First Nation have become financially secure, and they are always open to new challenges. No one is surprised that the resort has done so well, but many are surprised that the winery has prospered since it opened 15 years ago.

The Nk’Mip Cellars has been given multiple awards since its inception, including Best Winery awards for their Icewine and Pinot Blanc. They are now one of the main wineries in Canada, and it all started by partnering up with Vincor.

Patio at Nk’Mip Cellars Winery

Patio at Nk’Mip Cellars Winery

“We already had 300-acres of very high quality grapes, and they thought it was in our best interest to come together and make a winery,” assistant winemaker and band member Justin Hall told the CBC. “The idea was to utilize our high quality grapes and actually make wine out of them instead of selling grapes to so many people, and them all profiting from it. Why not profit from it ourselves?”

Vincor was bought out by Constellation Brands, who continued handling the corporate such as the marketing and distribution. The OIB are visited by their corporate partner twice a year to inform them of their strategies, and to discuss what new wines they are projecting for the future. “Our mandate for the winery is to produce wine off native soil,” Randy Picton told the CBC. “The band has over 1,000 acres in production, and we have about five or six different vineyards that we source grapes from. We get our cooler climate varietals from vineyards situated more northerly in the valley, and our Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc all come from the 350-acre vineyard in Oliver, which is owned and managed by OIB.”

Picton has encouraged band members to become familiar with the process of wine making, and he has recruited band members to work for Nk’Mip. Picton wants the winery to be cultural to the Osoyoos First Nation, insisting that the selection of names for their wines is influenced by their own culture. This includes their lively white wine ‘Dreamcatcher’, and their smoky red wine – named after the mythical Thunderbird – ‘Talon’.

“You never stop learning” says Picton, speaking on the wineries everyday challenges. “The different thing, from a winemaking perspective, is that you only get one shot every year. You have to wait until the next year to make changes to your program. Over the years, we’ve become more familiar with our blocks of grapes, and we have a very good understanding of the winery.”

The Osoyoos First Nations, led by their entrepreneurial Chief Clarence Louie, have successfully taken native business in a different direction. The only concern now is to maintain a level of consistency, which I am sure the OIB will handle with the pragmatism and caution they’ve carried in all of their enterprises. First Nations entrepreneurships have grown more in the last 10 years than they have in the last 100 years, and it is native leaders such as Clarence Louie that have been the difference.

Taking action towards cultural safety in healthcare for Indigenous people in British Columbia

By Margo Greenwood, Hilary McGregor and Julia Petrasek MacDonald

In British Columbia, Northern Health is taking up the challenge of building cultural safety for Indigenous people both within the structures and systems of the organization and at the front lines of health care delivery. This is occurring within the context of a changing landscape of First Nations health governance in the province that is initiating New Relationships. This article discusses how Northern Health is taking steps towards cultural safety and provides concrete examples.

Health Service Delivery in Northern British Columbia
The landscape of northern British Columbia (BC) is vast and diverse with a relatively sparse population. It covers approximately two-thirds of the province and is home to about 300,000 people. Approximately 18% of the population is Indigenous.

Health services in BC are funded through the Ministry of Health and delivered through five regional health authorities. Unique in the province is the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), the first Indigenous-led health authority in Canada. In 2013 FNHA assumed responsibility for the health programs and services previously administered by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. This historic transfer marked a New Relationship between First Nations, the province of British Columbia, and the Canadian government. Northern First Nations, the FNHA, and NH are working together to implement the Northern First Nations Health and Wellness Plan with goals and actions to support improved First Nations peoples’ health and wellness.

Repositioning Northern Health to Build a Culturally Safe Health System for Indigenous People
Cultural safety occurs when an individual feels affirmed and respected, is able to maintain dignity, and is safe from racism and discrimination. Health care service providers—and the organizations that support them—must reflect upon, understand, and if necessary, change any routine processes, habits, or behaviours that create unsafe healthcare experiences. Realizing concepts like cultural safety require different types of initiatives, activities, and processes. Following are examples of how Northern Health has made system changes to be more culturally safe.

In 2013, the CEO and Board of NH created a Vice President of Aboriginal Health position – the first executive-level position in Aboriginal Health in the country and a significant structural change that supports incorporation of Indigenous perspectives and priorities throughout organizational structures.

In July 2015, Northern Health, along with the BC Ministry of Health, FNHA and the remaining regional health authorities, signed a Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility, providing a mandate to advance cultural humility and safety in their practices with Indigenous people in BC. Furthermore, all new leadership job descriptions include a commitment and responsibility to the goals and intent of the Northern First Nations Health and Wellness Plan.

Building cultural safety at the front-lines of health service delivery
Northern Health (NH) is committed to advancing cultural humility and safety, especially at the front-lines of health service delivery. The Aboriginal Health (AH) team supports NH employees to learn about Indigenous peoples’ histories and current realities and provides a multitude of resources for employees. For example one fact sheet provides information on how to support continuous care as First Nations patients transition from acute care settings to their homes in First Nations communities.
In addition, NH funds seats for employees in a provincially-developed online Indigenous cultural safety training course. This course provides an important introduction to colonial histories in Canada along with opportunities to critically reflect on one’s own biases and assumptions about Indigenous people. The goal is for all employees to take the course.
Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees (AHICs) are an example of NH’s commitment to strengthen and enhance relationships with Indigenous people in northern BC. AHICs bring together local NH leaders, members of Indigenous organizations and communities, and representatives from the FNHA, to collaboratively address local health priorities. To date, the work of AHICs has included patient journey and process map activities to identify and address gaps and opportunities in health care service delivery. They have also developed over 30 local cultural resources to support increased cultural learning within the health system by informing health care providers about local Indigenous community protocols, histories, experiences and needs.

The examples described in this article represent only a small glimpse into the ongoing work by Northern Health and the Aboriginal Health team in collaboration with Indigenous communities, to build a culturally safe health system for Indigenous people in northern BC. These initiatives are helping one regional health authority take meaningful action on its commitment to improve the way health care services are delivered to Indigenous people. Northern Health recognizes that meaningful transformation in the face-to-face, on-the-ground interactions between Indigenous clients and health service providers requires an organizational commitment to cultural safety at all levels.

The Housing Revolution: Quality High-Efficiency Housing with Lower Operating Costs

In the Fall of 2016, Yale First Nation signed on with modular builder, Britco, to start a housing revolution.

For the past few years, Yale has been struggling to solve its housing crisis. They have a need, they have funding, but the solutions that existed did not necessary bring true affordability to the Nation’s 160 band members – specifically those that live on reserve.

Yale First Nation’s existing housing was becoming uninhabitable, with basic structural issues plaguing many members’ homes. Housing that had barely met building codes when it was built 22 years prior was now structurally unsound. Their homes were literally falling apart.

And substandard housing wasn’t the only issue for the Yale First Nation. In winter months, the majority of their community members would have difficulty paying their Hydro bill – which isn’t surprising considering the average Hydro bill last winter came in at $350. This left the Nation helping its members pay those bills and, at times, footing the bill for food and other necessities as well.

Pioneering Passive House

The housing revolution begins with two townhouse complexes for ten Yale First Nation families built to Passive House standards. Passive House standards are currently the highest standards of energy efficiency in a building available in the world today, making Yale First Nation the most energy efficient First Nation in Canada per capita once the townhouses are complete. This extreme energy efficiency will reduce energy costs by 80% and the members living in the townhouses will see and feel the difference in quality and comfort immediately.


When pairing Passive House standards with controlled off-site modular construction techniques, the quality of the building itself is drastically increased because Britco is able to oversee every step of the construction process to ensure quality and attention to detail. This style of building also helps sound-proof the units and doesn’t expose materials to inclement weather during the build.

“Poor quality and high operating costs are issues that many First Nations are facing,” said Yale First Nation Chief Ken Hansen. “We hope to help our neighboring First Nations in British Columbia overcome these issues with some of the solutions we’re working on with Britco.”

Through their work together, the Yale First Nation and Britco are striving to make quality sustainable housing with lower operating costs more accessible to Indigenous communities. In some cases, remote communities are relying on extremely costly diesel generators to heat their housing – which takes a financial toll on the Nations, as well as an environmental one.

The Greener Solution

In addition to reducing energy costs, Yale First Nation’s new Passive House townhouses will emit 80% less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional housing – which aligns well with their beliefs in sustainability and stewardship.


“The lowered impact on the environment paired with the drastic savings in energy costs is a solution we hope a lot of communities will turn to,” said Chief Hansen. “We’re setting a standard for other First Nations in Canada in moving forward with this type of housing.”

Although building to Passive House techniques is new to Canada’s First Nations communities, Britco’s first Passive House project was completed in 2015 for Vancouver Coastal Health Authority in Bella Bella, British Columbia.

A Lasting Partnership

With the support of Yale First Nation, Britco is establishing new benchmarks with this project that will be viewed as an achievement never before seen in a First Nation community. Both Yale First Nation and Britco share a vision of long term sustainability, environmental responsibility, energy efficiency and economic vitality in an on-reserve housing initiative that will undoubtedly serve as a model for Indigenous communities across the province and nationwide.

“There have only been three houses built on Yale First Nation reserves in the past 22 years. The housing need is no secret and it’s one of my priorities,” said Chief Hansen. “I am proud of the staff and management at both Britco and at Yale First Nation for their dedication to this project and the development of a lasting relationship.”

As one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly residences in an Indigenous community in North America, the Yale First Nation Passive House will provide the Nation the opportunity to share their stories, successes and mentor and guide other communities through the process.


About Yale First Nation

Yale First Nation is an independent First Nation located in Yale, British Columbia, with approximately 160 band members living on and off reserve.

The Nation has 13 Staff members and a full-time, 3-person Council who, collectively, are responsible for Community Health, Band Support, Housing, Finance, Social Development, Economic Development, Education, Fisheries, Maintenance and Natural Resources.


About Britco

Britco is one of the largest commercial modular construction companies in North America, providing innovative solutions to temporary and permanent residential and commercial modular buildings.


Britco offers leading design-build capabilities as well as turnkey construction management services with a focus on permanent modular construction, workforce accommodations and temporary construction site offices.


Calgary, Alberta (July, 2016)

Today, AltaGas Ltd. (“AltaGas”) and Halfway River First Nation (HRFN) signed a Comprehensive Relationship Agreement. The ten-year agreement provides the framework for consultation, financial benefits, community investment, employment opportunities, and support for a wildlife study in HRFN’s traditional territory.
“This agreement supports AltaGas’ three guiding principles for developing energy infrastructure: respect the land, share the benefits, and nurture long-term relationships,” said David Harris, President and Chief Executive Officer of AltaGas. “We look forward to continuing to build a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with HRFN that recognizes and respects their values and traditions.”

“We are pleased to sign this relationship agreement with AltaGas,” said Chief Darlene Hunter of Halfway River First Nation. “By working together with AltaGas, we have developed an agreement that will benefit our community for many years to come.”

Halfway River First Nation Chief Darlene Hunter and President and CEO of AltaGas David Harris celebrate after signing a ten-year Comprehensive Relationship Agreement in Calgary. The agreement provides the framework for consultation, financial benefits, community investment, employment opportunities, and support for a wildlife study in HRFN’s traditional territory. Photographer: Todd Korol

Halfway River First Nation Chief Darlene Hunter and President and CEO of AltaGas David Harris celebrate after signing a ten-year Comprehensive Relationship Agreement in Calgary. The agreement provides the framework for consultation, financial benefits, community investment, employment opportunities, and support for a wildlife study in HRFN’s traditional territory. Photographer: Todd Korol

AltaGas is constructing its Townsend Facility approximately 100 kilometres north of Fort St. John in Northeast British Columbia on HRFN territory. When completed, the Facility will include a 198 million cubic feet per day (MMscf/d) shallow-cut natural gas processing facility, a gathering pipeline, sales pipeline, two liquids egress pipelines, and a truck terminal on the Alaska Highway. The Townsend Facility is a key component of AltaGas’ Northeast British Columbia energy strategy. The Project has provided members of HRFN with employment opportunities during construction and will continue do so once operational.

“This agreement between AltaGas and the Halfway River First Nation is an important step towards sharing the prosperity that comes with natural gas development,” said the Honourable John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, for the Province of British Columbia. “The growth of a sustainable, responsible natural gas sector will bring substantial financial benefits, jobs and new business opportunities to Halfway River and other First Nations communities throughout northern B.C.”

Jobs at the Vancouver Police Department

The Vancouver Police Department is actively hiring for the position of Special Municipal Constable. In this role, you can work as a Community Safety Personnel member, as a Jail Guard, or as Traffic Authority member.  Special Municipal Constables are appointed under the Police Act; they have restricted peace officer status and perform specific authorized duties, but are not police officers.

These positions offer flexible work schedules with a competitive salary. Once hired, you join an auxiliary employee list where the schedule is based on your availability and staffing needs.  A part-time auxiliary position can become full-time, dependent on availability, qualifications, and performance. Additionally, some people may be trained for more than one position, depending on the current staffing needs

These positions are challenging and will help you improve your communication skills, your problem-solving abilities, and allow you to gain valuable police-related work experience. This can help prepare you for future careers within the criminal justice system and increase your competitiveness as an applicant.  Many VPD officers began their careers as a Special Municipal Constable. For some it was a chance to mature and gain more life and work experience, while for others it was a great employment opportunity while going to college or university. It can also become a lifelong career.



Community Safety Personnel

Community Safety Personnel are distinct and separate from regular police members, and are a unique element of the police department. They provide a visible presence in the community and serve the citizens, businesses, and visitors of Vancouver. The primary purpose of Community Safety Personnel is to assist the Vancouver Police Department and enhance service delivery in the community by:

•      responding to lower-level, lower-risk tasks, to alleviate regular police officers, thereby providing officers with an increased capacity to serve the community

•      patrolling neighbourhoods, attending public events, and providing a visible presence to the community, which promotes safety and security

•      acting as a liaison between regular police officers and the community, as appropriate, to ensure the Vancouver Police Department continues to effectively serve citizens in Vancouver

Community Safety Personnel assist patrol officers in their daily functions by doing various tasks, such as picking up statements, providing outside perimeter security at police incidents, and assisting with the transportation and tagging of property. They also provide logistical support during large-scale deployments, major events, emergencies, or disasters.



Jail Guard

The Vancouver Jail is located adjacent the Provincial Courthouse at Main Street and East Cordova. It is a challenging work environment – on any shift you may deal with everything from intoxicated persons to those arrested for having committed the most serious of criminal offences.  A Jail Guard provides security and control in the jail, and the duties include, but are not limited to:

•      searching all prisoners upon arrival

•      obtaining fingerprints, photographs, and information of prisoners, and booking them into and out of the Vancouver Jail

•      monitoring and assessing prisoner behaviour while in cells, restraining aggressive or violent individuals, responding to emergencies within the jail, and attending to overall prisoner welfare

•      controlling the movement of prisoners within the cell areas and escorting them to the detention units

•      serving court documents on prisoners and completing all necessary forms and reports.



Traffic Authority

Traffic Authority Members serve with dedication and commitment, upholding the professionalism and standards of the Vancouver Police Department.  They perform specific authorized duties, primarily directing vehicle and pedestrian traffic at public, private, and community events. Member work outdoors in all weather conditions and are often called upon to work at large events like concerts, sporting events, and the annual Celebration of Light fireworks festival.

The nature of the work means a lot of time on their feet and working around vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The position appeals to those who are only interested in part-time auxiliary employment. There are no set hours for shifts – it’s based on your own availability, which you can base around your own work or school schedule.

Applicants selected for a Special Municipal Constable position will complete a formal paid training program that occurs on evenings and weekends at the Vancouver Police Department – 100% attendance is mandatory. The training includes, but is not limited to:

•      legal studies

•      use of force

•      radio procedure

•      policy and procedures

•      traffic intersection control

•      on the job practical training

Upon successful completion of training program, you will be sworn in as a Special Municipal Constable, eligible to begin working shifts. Starting wages range from $22.00 to 24.49 per hour, depending on the position.


RRUC Project – Joint Venture Contracting & Local Workforce

The Port of Prince Rupert is within the traditional territory of the Coast Tsimshian, who have lived and traded in the area for thousands of years. The engagement and participation of local First Nations in port activity and development is critical to the success and growth of Prince Rupert’s trade gateway. The Prince Rupert Port Authority works closely with the nations of Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams and Kitkatla to ensure an alignment of interests, particularly on mutually beneficial development and the stewardship of port lands.

The Ridley Island Road, Rail & Utility Corridor presented a unique opportunity for local First Nations communities to participate in the construction of a major infrastructure project over 24 months. The bands of Metlakata and Lax Kw’alaams (through Coast Tsimshian Enterprises) partnered with JJM Construction Ltd. and Emil Anderson Construction Inc. to form Prince Rupert Constructors (PRC), a joint venture firm that was successful in bidding on a majority of the work for the RRUC. The Gitxaala Nation (Kitkatla) collaborated with ICON Construction to form Coast Industrial Construction (CiC), which completed the remainder of the work on the project. Together they built $75 million of the $97 million project, one of the largest First Nation joint ventures ever seen in Canada.

“Through this partnership, we were able to train a number of our local band members in Industry Training Authority certified programs to operate heavy machinery and equipment,” said Harold Leighton, Elected Chief of Metlakatla First Nation. “It is was a positive experience for the many members of our community that were employed on the RRUC project, and the Coast Tsimshian look forward to building a strong future for our communities through our involvement in port-related developments.”

Colin Robinson and Elaine Leighton

Colin Robinson and Elaine Leighton

Throughout the course of construction, employees of PRC and CiC received hundreds of hours of on-site training with various pieces of equipment, including excavators, bulldozers, rock trucks, graders, and compactors.

“The project was really beneficial to all parties concerned,” said Cameron McIntosh, General Superintendent with JJM Construction who oversaw RRUC construction on behalf of PRC. “Our partnership with Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams provided a local workforce for the project, gave them proper trade experience, and built a significant piece of port infrastructure. It was amazing to see most of our labour with little to no experience when we began the project become as good as anybody in the field at what they’re doing.”

Between the two contractors over 100 people were employed throughout the 24 month construction phase, many of whom reside in their respective villages and the Prince Rupert area.

“It was amazing to be a part of this project,” said Elaine Leighton with Prince Rupert Constructors. “I used to have to go to Vancouver for work, so it means a lot to be working alongside friends and family so close to home.”

Indigenous Communities Building the Capacity to Lead Clean Energy Projects

by Ian Scholten – Project Manager, Lumos Energy

Clean energy projects hold a lot of potential for Indigenous communities in Canada. Not just in terms of revenue or jobs but long term economic development and opportunities to address major community challenges including housing, education, and public health issues. Yet, about half of the potential benefits of participating in clean energy projects simply aren’t being realized in communities. Why? Lack of capacity.

These are three words we unfortunately hear all too often when it comes to Aboriginal communities. Decades of injustice have put communities at a disadvantage in many areas. Clean energy is one of those areas. The rate at which the sector is growing can make it extremely difficult to understand all of the opportunities, let alone effectively maximize the social and economic benefits that accompany them.

What does it look like when the capacity to develop clean energy projects is present in Aboriginal communities?

Here are two examples:

Pit Cook 25th April 2009 003T’Sou-ke Nation on Vancouver Island took their time organizing their efforts to pursue roof top solar projects in their community. When all was said and done, members of the community were trained to install the solar system (both solar panels and solar hot water systems), the community received multiple awards for the initiative, and they leveraged the opportunity secondary benefits including eco-tourism. The community is now building on this success through new initiatives like a green house that will produce wasabi for an international market, and provide further training and jobs.

On the other side of the country, the Ojbways of the Pic River First Nation have been building their capacity in hydropower. They first got involved in the early 1990s. In this first project, they were only able to secure minority ownership. Since then, they’ve continued to build their capacity through four more hydro projects. The end result? They wholly own three out of four of these projects and are majority owners of the final one. Together, these projects generate huge amounts of revenue (over $1 million per year) for the community.

But how can other communities start to capitalize on these opportunities in the same way T’Sou-ke Nation and the Ojibways of the Pic River have? By building the internal capacity to lead projects. That’s when you start making the most of clean energy for your community.

Capacity in this case doesn’t just refer to technical or trades training. Though those are integral to securing jobs in projects, capitalizing on the full range of opportunities that come with clean energy requires knowledge in five key areas: community engagement, economic development, job creation, project financing, and strategic reinvestment. Having the ability within your community to effectively tackle these areas will ensure that both immediate and long-term benefits flow from the project.

It’s important to note, though, that building capacity is not about becoming an expert in all areas of project development (yes, you will likely still need consultants). It’s about gaining the confidence to lead projects and make informed decisions.

A good place to start building the capacity needed to be leaders in clean energy is by learning directly from the people who’ve led these projects. People like Chief Gordon Planes of T’Sou-ke Nation and Byron LeClair, Director of Energy Projects for the Ojibways of the Pic River. Building these connections and developing a community of practice is exactly what we’re doing through the 20/20 Catalysts Program: a hands-on clean energy capacity building program being developed by Lumos Energy and the Aboriginal Human Resource Council. Over the course of three months, Aboriginal individuals will connect with and learn from leaders who have implemented renewable energy projects across Canada. It’s an opportunity to learn effective strategies for maximizing community benefits. Participants in the program will be expected to bring the knowledge they gain back to their community and, this is the key part: apply it to the projects they are working on.

Building capacity will take time and hands-on experience. But by putting in the effort and ensuring it becomes a requirement in all partnerships, you can gain the confidence you need to position your community to play a leading role in clean energy projects.

Aboriginal and Minority Owned Suppliers Drive Their Businesses into High Gear

Toronto, April 13, 2016 – Approximately 300 attendees hit the ground running today at CAMSC’s 12th Diversity Procurement Fair. With a focus on driving economic growth in diverse communities across the country, Aboriginal and minority owned suppliers had the chance to pitch their businesses to some of North America’s leading corporations. Attendees also had the opportunity to network with peers, hear their inspirational success stories and attend workshops led by experts in IT, pharmaceutical, automotive, recruitment, government, manufacturing and financial industries.

CAMSC’s 12th Annual Diversity Procurement Fair celebrates momentum and growth as corporations spend over $2 billion on diverse vendors since 2004.

CAMSC’s 12th Annual Diversity Procurement Fair celebrates momentum and growth as corporations spend over $2 billion on diverse vendors since 2004.

“The fact that over $2 billion has been spent on diverse suppliers is a testament to our corporate and supplier members on the front lines promoting the benefits of inclusive procurement,” said Cassandra Dorrington, President and CEO, CAMSC. “With the economic climate these last few years, we expected a slight decrease in dollars spent with diverse suppliers. Instead, that number is going up. This illustrates the importance corporate Canada places on the value that diverse suppliers bring to the organization. This is a wonderful foundation for future growth.”

Growth in supplier diversity was a key focus for today’s luncheon keynote speaker, Reginald Humphrey, Sr. Manager, Supplier Diversity, General Motors (GM). His “Race to Win” address highlighted the benefits of supplier diversity at GM and described the necessary elements for success.

“Supply chain diversity is integral for GM,” stated Humphrey. “In my current role, I manage over 200 certified diverse suppliers. Procurement inclusivity is not just a corporate mandate, it is a personal one and I am thrilled to share my insights at events such as this Fair. A supplier diversity program is successful when there is an opportunity to network and learn. This event provides both.” For more information, visit

Keynote Speaker Reginald E. Humphrey  Sr. Manager, Supplier Diversity, General Motors

Keynote Speaker Reginald E. Humphrey
Sr. Manager, Supplier Diversity, General Motors



CAMSC (Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council) is a non-profit organization created in 2004 to advance the economic strength of Aboriginal and visible minority communities through business development and employment. CAMSC’s mission is to facilitate business relationships with Canadian corporations dedicated to diversity and supplier organizations owned by Aboriginals and minorities. Since its inception in 2004, corporate members have spent more than $2 billion with CAMSC certified Aboriginal and minority-owned businesses.

CPA Canada, AFOA Canada Partner To Establish Strong Aboriginal Financial Leaders

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) and AFOA Canada (formerly Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada) announced on February 19th that they’re building on a long-standing and collaborative relationship through a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). “We both share a common vision,” says Tashia Batstone, vice president of education services with CPA Canada. “We each represent professionals who demonstrate a commitment to help organizations and communities succeed through high standards, accountability, and strong decision making.”

Tashia Batstone (Vice-President of Education Services at CPA Canada) and Terry Goodtrack (AFOA Canada President CEO)

Tashia Batstone (Vice-President of Education Services at CPA Canada) and Terry Goodtrack (AFOA Canada President CEO)

Canadian CPA is one of the world’s preeminent accounting and business designations, and they are committed to supporting the development of strong financial leaders in the Aboriginal community. “Working with the AFOA and through our continued participation in programs such as the Martin Aboriginal Initiative, CPA Canada is committed to making a positive contribution to economic and social development in Canada,” said Batstone. “In discussions with AFOA executives we determined there was considerable alignment between the AFOA’s CAFM designation and the CPA Canada ACAF, and therefore we felt that an agreement that would recognize this alignment made good business sense for both organizations.” CPA Canada is committed to working with CPA Canada’s Aboriginal community and very much supported a strong relationship with the AFOA.

CPA Canada will be offering support by providing an efficient pathway to the new CPA Canada Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance (ACAF). The ACAF is an online education program created for students looking for junior and intermediate careers in accounting and finance. CPA Canada will work on integrating some course material from its ACAF program into the curriculum to become a Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager (CAFM). This will provide CAFM students an accelerated route to obtain the ACAF.

“The health and success of our Aboriginal communities can be linked to financial wellness and its management capacity,” states Terry Goodtrack, president and CEO of AFOA Canada. “Certified Professionals are key to communities in their journey towards social and economic prosperity. This relationship with CPA Canada just makes sense and continues to strengthen our ability to produce the top Aboriginal accounting and financial professionals.”

With the MOU, CPA Canada is also looking ahead, beyond just program support. “CPA Canada will also look for opportunities to increase exposure to Indigenous culture and history to members and students through professional development and education programs,” adds Kevin Dancey, president and CEO of CPA Canada. “We look forward to a strengthened working relationship with AFOA Canada and continuing to explore ways our two organizations can bring value to our members.”

Batstone says that the CAFM designation includes a module on Aboriginal history and culture. “This course would be very relevant to our CPAs and students who work with the aboriginal community. I would hope that through this partnership we will be able to make these types of opportunities available to our members.”