The first hurdle facing many Aboriginal companies and workers is opportunity, but PotashCorp is taking steps to remove that barrier.
The company is actively working to attract more First Nations and Métis people to the potash industry and to establish relationships that can deliver long-term benefits to PotashCorp and its Aboriginal suppliers.
One of the early success stories is Points Athabasca FHQ Contracting LP (Points Athabasca FHQ), which is responsible for scaffolding and painting on the $2.8 billion expansion project at Rocanville.
Points Athabasca FHQ is a partnership between Points Athabasca Contracting LP, owned by seven First Nations and non-First Nations communities in the Athabasca Basin; FHQ Developments Ltd., which is owned by the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council; and Graham Group Ltd., one of Canada’s largest construction companies. The full-service general contracting business is focused on providing superior service to its clients and stakeholders with a commitment to training, employing and retaining Aboriginal employees.
Points Athabasca's crew consists of 30 employees, 60 percent of whom have Aboriginal heritage. According to Brad Darbyshire, General Manager for the contractor, it won’t be long before the company is employing more than 100 people – with a target of 80 percent Aboriginal participation from local communities.
"I see ample opportunity to grow this company through productive, safe execution with significant employment and engagement of Aboriginal people," Darbyshire says.
"PotashCorp has given us our first break and put their trust in us to deliver. The inaugural award by PotashCorp put real work forward that both suits our company profile and meets the needs of the available Aboriginal workforce. Since the contract they have been extremely supportive and a big part of the contract success."
Creating new opportunities
Engaging Aboriginal communities and creating greater employment and supplier opportunities for Aboriginal people and companies is at the core of PotashCorp’s Aboriginal Strategy.
"PotashCorp's Aboriginal Strategy grows out of a better understanding of First Nations and Métis people in Saskatchewan and a desire to expand our business relationships in those communities," explained Leanne Bellegarde, Director of PotashCorp's Aboriginal Strategy.
"Points Athabasca FHQ met our requirements for painting and scaffolding contract work at Rocanville. We're proud to support this Aboriginal business and thrilled to provide a foundation upon which it can launch its plans for growth."
As Points Athabasca FHQ's new employees learn valuable skills and become immersed in the world of trades on the job, Darbyshire senses the beginnings of great things to come.
"As a business, we want to provide safety, quality and productivity. The value-added kicker is that we want to take high-unemployed groups of First Nations people in our province and put those people to work," he said. "This is Saskatchewan's future. I'm very happy PotashCorp is committed to raising awareness and providing these opportunities for Aboriginal suppliers."