Apprentice Instrumentation Technician
I found it was a lot of hard work and it took a lot of dedication to get through it, but it’s paid off. It’s been absolutely rewarding.
“I heard about the Syncrude Aboriginal Trades Preparation Program at Keyano College through my Aunty Marty who also works at the company. I had brought the kids over to her place for a play date and she casually brought it up that Syncrude was offering this course where you can learn a trade, get a paid work placement, and if successful, get a guaranteed job at the company when you graduate.
I found it was a lot of hard work and it took a lot of dedication to get through it, but it's paid off. It's been absolutely rewarding and, as a graduate, I would definitely recommend the program to others. I love getting up every morning and coming to work.”
- Regular consultation and community engagement meetings were held with all five of the region's First Nations and several Métis locals
- Regular contact with Aboriginal contractors was maintained, and issues and concerns were promptly addressed
- Elders advisory tours on Syncrude reclamation projects were held with region's First Nations and Métis locals
Aboriginal Relations Policy, Program & Governance
Syncrude's policies pertaining to our relationships with Aboriginal stakeholders are incorporated into our overarching Communications and Stakeholder Relations Policy and Stakeholder Consultation Guidelines.
The goals of our Aboriginal Relations Program are to:
- be a corporate leader in Aboriginal Relations and employment and a sustainable and socially responsible leader and employer in the oil sands industry;
- attract and retain qualified employees from local Aboriginal communities to assist in meeting our workforce needs;
- be an employer of choice for Aboriginal people;
- be a corporate leader in Aboriginal business development;
- achieve effective, two-way relationships and consultation with local Aboriginal stakeholders;
- focus community investment initiatives on education and recruitment, community relations, cultural retention, and Aboriginal leadership;
- ensure local Aboriginal communities have the capacity to engage with Syncrude regarding consultation, employment, business, and environmental and socio-economic impacts from our projects; and
- ensure Syncrude's environmental programs are designed to mitigate impacts to traditional land uses, incorporate traditional knowledge where possible and are well understood by our stakeholders.
Progress toward these goals is stewarded by Syncrude's Aboriginal Relations Steering Committee, whose mandate is to ensure that Syncrude delivers on its six key commitment areas for Aboriginal Relations: Corporate Leadership, Employment, Business Development, Education, Community Development and the Environment. The Committee includes senior managers and advisors from throughout Syncrude who meet quarterly to guide and champion strategies to ensure positive outcomes for Aboriginal stakeholders. An Aboriginal Relations team supports the Committee; the team manages the day-to-day interactions and relationships with local stakeholders.
Our Approach to Aboriginal Consultation
Syncrude operates on the traditional lands of five First Nations. Since our earliest days, we have, where possible, accommodated the interests of the local First Nations and Métis Locals. We endeavour to earn support through relationship-building and formal agreements that are aligned with our mutual interests, mitigate concerns, provide benefit to affected communities, and are in accord with Canadian law.
Our engagement with those affected by our operations is ongoing, and in specific cases is also triggered by regulatory applications that fall under the following laws and under which Syncrude has delegated the procedural aspects of consultation:
- Oil Sands Conservation Act;
- Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, including Closure and Reclamation Plan renewals;
- Alberta Water Act;
- Federal government approvals or amendments (e.g.: Fisheries Act or Canadian Environmental Assessment Act); and
- Licenses or permits that fall outside of existing Mineral Surface Leases (e.g.: winter drilling programs).
In 2012, consultation continued on the Base Mine Lake project. Syncrude also released a public disclosure document on the Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) project and announced our intentions to begin stakeholder consultations. Initial project scoping is underway and we anticipate filing a formal regulatory submission in 2014.
Our Aboriginal Workforce
Syncrude was successful in attracting 32 new permanent Aboriginal employees in 2012. Attrition among Aboriginal employees was lower than overall workforce attrition, at 10.4 percent. As at year-end 2012, our 474 Aboriginal employees comprised 9.1 percent of our total workforce, an increase of 0.5 percent over 2009.
Ongoing recruitment initiatives, such as the day-to-day work of Syncrude's Aboriginal Recruitment Specialist, Syncrude's rotational employment program in several Wood Buffalo Aboriginal communities, and Syncrude's participation in the Aboriginal Human Resource Council's Inclusion Works National Career Fair will help maintain strong levels of Aboriginal hiring. Workforce development initiatives, such as our work to support education and trades training programs, also play an important role in developing the next generation of Aboriginal employees.
In 2012, Aboriginal people represented about 10 percent of our new employees.
Business Development Reaches $1.8 Billion
Syncrude recorded strong performance for Aboriginal procurement in 2012, with a total business volume of $147 million with companies owned by Aboriginal entrepreneurs and First Nations in the Wood Buffalo region. This brought to $1.8 billion the total cumulative procurement since 1992, when Syncrude established a minimum annual target of $30 million. Our policy requires an Aboriginal business to be 51 percent owned by a First Nation, Métis Local or Aboriginal person. The Aboriginal owner must also be in control of the operations on a day-to-day basis.
Procurement with Aboriginal-Owned Companies
The cumulative total for Syncrude business with First Nations- and Métis-owned companies since 1992 is over $1.7 billion.
Investing in Strong, Healthy Communities
Syncrude invested over $600,000 in Aboriginal community projects during 2012. Among the projects we supported:
- The National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (now the Indspire Awards) and the NAAF Education Series Career Fair for Aboriginal high school students.
- The Science Alberta Foundation. It will produce classroom science learning tools for Aboriginal schools in the Wood Buffalo region and beyond.
- Athabasca Tribal Council Regional Gathering. This event celebrates Aboriginal culture and brings together First Nations communities to promote better understanding and appreciation of traditional values.
- Alberta Foundation for the Arts Travelling Exhibition (TREX) Program. It features works by Aboriginal artists in an exhibition that travels to various communities across Alberta.
- The WISEST and DiscoverE programs with the University of Alberta School of Engineering, which will now reach out to Aboriginal communities in northern Alberta.
Syncrude Leaders Serve on National Boards
Two Syncrude leaders continued to serve on the governing boards of national Aboriginal organizations during the 2012 reporting period. Dan Brown, Manager of Process Control and Automation, volunteers for the Aboriginal Human Resource Council, and Kara Flynn, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, volunteers for the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
Syncrude Accredited Through PAR Program
The Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) Program establishes a framework for companies to measure progress on developing progressive Aboriginal relations. It considers corporate efforts in Aboriginal employment, Aboriginal business development, building individual capacity and enhancing relations with Aboriginal communities. Syncrude is the only oil sands company holding Gold Level PAR distinction, and has been accredited five times.
Syncrude Aboriginal Review
Published annually, Syncrude's Aboriginal Review provides a comprehensive overview of our Aboriginal Relations work and our progress in stewarding to our key commitment areas of corporate leadership, employment, business development, education, community development and the environment. View the 2012 report here. The magazine has been recognized internationally with a MarCom Platinum Award and an Award of Excellence from the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence.