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Maxine Leclercq began her career more than 20 years ago with Christina River Enterprise, a 100 per cent Aboriginal-owned company, and is now the organization's longest-serving employee.

Aboriginal Relations

“It’s good to see Aboriginal businesses continue to grow along with the industry and we hope to see that increase even more in the future," says Mitch Mercredi, President, Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association.

Syncrude’s spending with Aboriginal companies tops $228 million in 2014

Syncrude did a record amount of business with Aboriginal-owned companies in 2014, spending more than $228 million on goods and services.

The number represented a 22 per cent increase from 2013, when Syncrude spent $187 million with Aboriginal-owned businesses.

Syncrude has contracts with more than 25 Aboriginal-owned companies based in the Wood Buffalo region and is a founding member of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA). The record amount of business between Syncrude and Aboriginal-owned businesses pleased NAABA President Mitch Mercredi.

“Syncrude continues to increase the amount of business it does with Aboriginal-owned contractors because our members deliver high quality goods and services safely and cost-effectively. It’s an excellent partnership,” he said. “It’s good to see Aboriginal businesses continue to grow along with the industry and we hope to see that increase even more in the future.”

Syncrude first began tracking the amount of goods and services procured from Aboriginal-owned companies in 1992 as part of its commitment to business development in its Aboriginal Relations Program. Since then, Syncrude has now spent more than $2.2 billion on goods and services from Aboriginal-owned businesses, in keeping with a commitment made by founding president Frank Spragins to ensure First Nations and Metis groups in the region received opportunities to participate in the development of the oil sands.

Syncrude aims to respect Aboriginal cultures

Syncrude aims to respect Aboriginal cultures and traditions and is proud to be one of Canada’s largest employers of Aboriginal people. We continue to work toward providing greater opportunities for Aboriginal participation in our company through business development initiatives, and through education and skills development programs that open the door to rewarding careers.

Our Aboriginal relations commitment

Our Aboriginal relations commitment focuses on six key areas: corporate leadership, community development and capacity building, employment, business development, education and the environment. Among our performance highlights:

  • We are recognized with Gold Level accreditation by the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB) in their Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program. We are the only oil sands operator to achieve this level.
  • We are one of the largest private-sector employers of Aboriginal people in Canada. Of our total workforce, around 9% are of self-declared First Nations, Métis or Inuit descent.
  • Total cumulative spending with Aboriginal-owned businesses is over $2 billion.
  • Syncrude has permanently reclaimed over 3,400 hectares of land with another 1,000 available for revegetation. Aboriginal Elders and community members provide input on our reclamation through regular meetings and annual tours.
  • Syncrude and the Fort McKay First Nation co-manage a herd of wood bison grazing on land reclaimed from mining operations. The ranch has been in operation for 20 years.
  • Syncrude was the lead funding organization for a trades preparation and skills upgrading program at Keyano College. Called the Syncrude Aboriginal Trades Preparation Program (SATP), it was available in Fort McMurray, Janvier, Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan. The 29-week program included a four-week work placement at Syncrude, and has now been completed.
  • The Fort Chipewyan rotational employment program provides employees with free accommodation for the duration of their shift at Syncrude and free air transport to and from Fort Chipewyan. The program has been in place for over 30 years.
  • Each year, Syncrude produces a review of its Aboriginal relations commitments, called Pathways. The publication also profiles many local and national success stories from the Aboriginal community.