Nicole Bouchier

Photo: courtesy of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

Aboriginal Relations

“We’re very proud to be Aboriginal people from
this region and we strive to prove that we’re the best at what we do,” says
Nicole, a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation.

Local Aboriginal business owner recognized for her achievements

She’s known as a mother, Aboriginal business woman, board member, wife, chief executive officer, and community advocate – and now Nicole Bourque-Bouchier can add Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) award winner to her repertoire.

It was hard work, passion and an entrepreneurial spirit that led Nicole to be chosen out of 83 province-wide nominees as AWE’s recipient of the 2015 Celebration of Achievement Award. Co-owner of the Bouchier Group of Companies since 2004, Nicole is a driving force within the company and the community.

“Nicole’s contributions to the region extend far beyond her role as Chief Executive Officer,” says Lana Hill, Syncrude’s Stakeholder Relations Advisor. “She is proud of her Aboriginal heritage and is committed to expanding opportunities for other First Nation and Métis people in the region and across Canada. Her success has made her a strong role model in this community, for Aboriginal people, and also for women.”

Nicole strives to create a work environment she is proud to work in each day. Out of the 850 employees currently with Bouchier Group, 45 per cent are Aboriginal, with a target of 60 per cent on average. One of the challenges Nicole and her co-owner husband, David, face is the misconception that Aboriginal companies are given more opportunities than non-Aboriginal businesses. 

“We’re very proud to be Aboriginal people from this region and we strive to prove that we’re the best at what we do,” says Nicole, a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation. “We want to be the most competitive, provide the best quality services, and dedicate the community commitment that goes along with that.”

Being involved in the community is a passion of Nicole’s, and one that can be seen in her involvement with organizations such as Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta, Keyano College Board of Governors and Alberta’s First Nation Women’s Economic Security, to name a few. Nicole is also the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association’s only female president in the history of the organization, a role she served for four years.

Balancing her personal life, business needs and community initiatives takes focus, but Nicole is up for the challenge.

“I think we have such a wonderful story to tell about Aboriginal women in business that doesn’t get told a lot,” adds Nicole. “To know I may be playing a small part of that through this recognition, is an honour to me.”

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.