As a result of the steps we have taken to improve our Indigenous cultural awareness and inclusion in our recruitment and procurement practices, we have been better able to create sustainable benefits for Indigenous communities.
Our Highland Valley Copper Operations near Kamloops, British Columbia is developing programs to build meaningful relationships and incorporate the interests of the local Indigenous communities of the Nlaka’pamux Nation. These programs have set the foundation for the successful implementation of recently negotiated Impact Benefit Agreements, which include commitments to improve Nlaka’pamux inclusion in HVC’s business activities.
At HVC, a lack of awareness and knowledge about Indigenous culture impacted its ability to hire and contract from Indigenous communities. To increase cultural awareness – especially among employees who interact most often with our Indigenous employees, neighbours and contractors – in 2012, HVC began offering Indigenous cultural awareness sessions, led by HVC’s Community Affairs Supervisor. This full-day session includes an overview of First Nations peoples in Canada and Canada’s colonial history, including government policies that fostered assimilation at the expense of First Nations culture. This training provides employees with the knowledge to better understand how the history of First Nations peoples in Canada affects their current situations with regards to education, skills, training and literacy.
Applying people-centred frameworks and the principles of dialogue, which focus on seeing through the eyes of others, has strengthened our relationships with local First Nations peoples. The knowledge foundation provided by the cultural awareness training has also helped us work towards a model of participatory inclusion that will facilitate meaningful understanding and response to First Nations concerns.
To help increase the number of First Nations employees and suppliers, HVC modified its recruitment process for Nlaka’pamux Nation members and partnered with community agencies such as the Aboriginal Mentoring and Training Association (formerly the British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association) to promote skills and training development for First Nations applicants.
HVC also conducted a local sourcing assessment and identified a First Nations-owned drilling contractor that met the qualification criteria. HVC then supported this business through the prequalification process, helping it develop formal business systems and compile required documentation. The Indigenous business was then able to demonstrate success through an initial drill project on-site. In subsequent years, we worked with the business to design new contract terms, leading to increased efficiency and a tenfold increase in the volume of sales with HVC.