TransCanada is building upon its support for Aboriginal employment in North America with the launch of an innovative new Aboriginal business initiative spearheaded through the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project in British Columbia.
On February 19, TransCanada and the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business (ICAB) launched the B.C. Aboriginal Business Association (BCABA) Marketplace — a one-stop online resource providing Aboriginal businesses with innovative support services and access to industry business opportunities.
In turn, industry will be provided with access to Aboriginal suppliers, supporting a burgeoning business sector.
“We are proud to be a founding sponsor of the BCABA Marketplace as we appreciate the importance of creating awareness of aboriginal business capacity and capabilities,” said Rick Gateman, president of the Coastal GasLink Project. “Ultimately, by engaging with qualified Aboriginal businesses, we can maximize opportunities for aboriginal communities in proximity to our projects and operations.”
The Aboriginal business owner and entrepreneur sector is growing at five times the rate of self-employed Canadians overall, but many face challenges accessing contract opportunities and resource services.
To help counter those obstacles in Canada’s most western province, the BCABA Marketplace will list B.C. Aboriginal contractors from a wide range of sectors in one central business directory, housing webpages that can be searched by industry. The Marketplace also houses a library of support services, such as a resource centre with templates to create business-related plans and policy manuals.
“Many companies are committed to contracting Aboriginal suppliers but face challenges finding those businesses. At the same time, Aboriginal suppliers who could fill those contracts can have difficulty learning about the opportunities,” said Brenda Ireland, chief executive officer of ICAB. “The Marketplace is the first province-wide resource designed to link Aboriginal suppliers to industry opportunities and support Aboriginal business growth.”
Gary Forsyth, President and CEO of IVL Contracting Ltd., an aboriginal business providing a full spectrum of licensed general construction services, also sees the benefit.
“The Marketplace is another valuable service that BCABA is providing for small Aboriginal businesses like mine, particularly those of us operating in rural areas,” Forsyth said. “Being linked to the BCABA Marketplace is going to give us exposure and access to industry opportunities that will help us grow our businesses.”
TransCanada will provide financial support and expertise on the maintenance and ongoing development of the Marketplace. A portion of the financial support will directly enable the registration of businesses from Aboriginal communities in regions near the proposed right-of-ways for both our Coastal GasLink and Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Projects in northern B.C.
“One example of our commitment to working with Aboriginal businesses is the strong relationship we have had with Summit Pipeline Services for over 10 years,” Gateman said at the February 19 announcement in Penticton, B.C. “This past year we completed $9.5 million in work with Summit, largely for investigative digs and integrity work related to our existing Canadian pipeline systems.”
Summit Pipeline Services is 90 per cent owned by the McLeod Lake Indian Band in northeast British Columbia.
Overall, TransCanada’s approach to Aboriginal contracting is to work closely with communities and our prime contractors to bundle work packages in a way that allows Aboriginal businesses to compete successfully. The company’s Aboriginal Contracting Program is in now in its 11th year and has resulted in almost $300 million in Aboriginal employment and contracting on projects across North America. Where there is no capacity for contracting, TransCanada works to provide employment opportunities for community members through our prime contractors.
Members of the Aboriginal Relations teams for both B.C. pipeline projects are working closely with some 36 First Nations, not only to ensure their awareness of contracting and employment opportunities, but also to ensure that First Nation traditional land uses and ecological knowledge are incorporated into planning, routing and operational decisions for our projects.