Working with Indigenous communities: ensuring everyone benefits from FortisBC projects
For almost 20 years our Statement of Indigenous Principles has helped us build and sustain meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities across BC.
The statement, created in consultation with key leaders from Indigenous communities, is the foundation of our work with the 150 communities our infrastructure crosses through and the 56 communities we supply electricity and natural gas to.
It also creates some very tangible benefits for communities.
The statement in action: creating opportunities
Our gas line upgrades can be a big deal. In 2017 we built more than 10 kilometres of new natural gas line running from Surrey to Coquitlam. In 2018-19 we are replacing a 21 kilometre-long gas line running through Vancouver, Burnaby and Coquitlam. Projects of this scale represent significant economic and employment opportunities—and we want to make sure everyone benefits.
Seven Generations Environmental Services, wholly owned by six Stó:lō Nation communities, was hired for environmental monitoring. For local vegetation clearing and restoration expertise, we engaged Tsleil-Waututh Nation company Inlailawatash. The Tsleil-Waututh have been stewards of their territory for thousands of years and Inlailawatash embraces this with site restorations that re-establish native plants that had been overrun by invasive species.
We conduct business in a way that not only respects the social and cultural interests of Indigenous communities, but also creates new employment and economic opportunities for them.
Olivia Stanley Indigenous Relations Manager, FortisBC
The statement in action: supporting communities
Being present in BC’s Indigenous communities can often mean finding creative solutions that are mutually beneficial. When two second-growth cedars needed removing for the Silver Creek watershed we saw an opportunity blossom to support local Indigenous education. We organized for the cedar logs to be cut to size and delivered to the Suwa’lkh School in Coquitlam for use in its education program. The logs will give students a unique opportunity to learn traditional wood carving and bark weaving through hands-on art classes.
These logs will provide our students with an incredible opportunity to learn about their history and culture through hands-on classes with a local Coast Salish artist.Gayle Bedard District Principal, Suwa’lkh School
The statement in action: partnering with communities
Our Mt. Hayes LNG facility on Vancouver Island is a great example of the benefits of working in partnership. The facility is a valuable part of our natural gas storage system and creates jobs and economic opportunity for partners, the Stz’uminus (Chemainus) First Nation and Cowichan Tribes.
With a total of $70 million invested, including by the Nations, the project created local jobs, supported local suppliers and contractors and provided both Nations with ongoing funds through a special tariff.
More recently, FortisBC secured a unique opportunity to partner with Upper Nicola Band and Okanagan Nation Alliance to build a solar farm on reserve lands. The partnership will see us provide support and expertise for the community-led project, and demonstrates how our Statement of Indigenous Principles is helping build relationships with Indigenous communities.
This partnership was developed with the purpose of profiting together, in a manner that is in harmony with the values of the Upper Nicola Band for use of their land.Grant Bierlmeier Business Development Director, FortisBC Alternative Energy Services
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