One of the first people from FortisBC to connect with Nupqu more than 10 years ago was Blair Weston, one of our community and Indigenous relations managers. He’s watched the company grow from a forestry company to one with competency in a variety of resource management services. “We first hired Nupqu to do some clearing work for us on a small project and continued to work with them on specific jobs over a span of 10 years,” says Blair. “They got to a place where they were able to take on large-scale project work for us.”
Nupqu grew its portfolio of services by listening to clients, such as FortisBC, to understand their needs, says Kevin Wilson, Nupqu’s business development manager. The company also took steps to acquire the skills and resources it needed to be considered for the work.
“Nupqu is owned by the Indigenous communities that make up the Ktunaxa Nation,” Kevin explains. “Our mandate is to support those communities wherever we can.”
When Nupqu saw a need within the industry for environmental technicians, it launched a program to provide Ktunaxa community members with practical field skills training to meet them. “The program succeeds because we ensure participants gain valuable employment experience with Nupqu or with other companies in the region,” says Kevin.
Whenever the company requires additional expertise, it partners with complimentary service providers to acquire it. Nupqu formed a partnership with Hemmera Envirochem allowing them to offer a broader range of environmental services. “We provide the competent local workforce and Hemmera’s registered professionals provide the professional oversite,” says Kevin. A partnership with Kettle River Contracting, another Ktunaxa-owned business, has been equally beneficial for them. The two companies teamed up to provide the site clearing services for our Inland Gas Upgrade project in the Kootenay region—work that will enhance our proactive maintenance activities.
Veteran Nupqu employee and Cranbrook resident, Darrell Luke was the Faller Supervisor during the site clearing work for the project. He worked with Kettle River to clear FortisBC’s gas line right of way. “My job was to remove the trees impeding the right of way so the crew had enough room to do the upgrade work safely,” he explains. “Kettle River brought in its heavy equipment to haul the logs away, as well as other vegetation that was removed during the clearing process.”
Kevin says it was necessary to ask Kettle River to join them as a sub-contractor because Nupqu needed the company’s heavy equipment, and its expertise operating it. “This is a great example of how we’re working with companies within the Ktunaxa network to grow the scope of services we can offer.”
This field season, Nupqu will directly employ approximately 65 people in its core specialties of forestry, environmental and safety management services. More than 60 per cent of those employed are Ktunaxa community members.
Kevin is proud of the central role Nupqu plays in the Ktunaxa economy, as well as the way it has expanded its network to meet client’s needs, such as a recent request from FortisBC to provide drone footage of our gas line. “We don’t have drones, but we do have a network,” he says. Nupqu was able to quickly acquire a visual overview of our infrastructure with the help of one of its partners. “We’re happy to help FortisBC with solutions to these one-off requests. This is part of our growing relationship,” notes Kevin. “In the big picture, we see a future for our company as a quarterback, a prime contractor, tapping into our network and putting a team together to get a job done.”