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A principled approach to Aboriginal relations

by Jasmine DeMarcos
August 31, 2016


Bruce Falstead, FortisBC community relations and Aboriginal initiatives manager, with Tyrone McNeil, vice president of Stó:lo Tribal Council and manager of Stqó:ya Construction.


For more than 12 years, we’ve used our Statement of Aboriginal Principles to guide our approach to projects, day-to-day operations and for all of our interactions with Aboriginal communities. This statement was initiated by Bruce Falstead, FortisBC community relations and Aboriginal initiatives manager, who was brought on board in 2001 after the construction of the Southern Crossing project.

“The Southern Crossing project was a very complex undertaking, which involved building a 300 km pipeline crossing through many Aboriginal territories,” Bruce said. “The negotiations for land use were very difficult and complicated, and it highlighted a need for a more consistent approach.

“We had to look at our values as a company and how we wanted to work with Aboriginal communities, as partners.”

Making a statement

The process to create the Statement of Principles took a couple of years and was developed in consultation with several local Aboriginal leaders.

“The Aboriginal leaders gave us very valuable, very specific recommendations, and they were surprised we were asking them,” Bruce said. "We see our relationships with Aboriginal communities as a huge strategic advantage.”

Training for the future

Recently, Bruce has been focused on the Pathway to Electrical Careers Initiative, which FortisBC has now joined. The goal is to develop a streamlined entry program that allows Aboriginal applicants to successfully enter the electrical trades and helps them succeed in achieving their Red Seal electrical certification. The initiative is a partnership between the Squamish Nation training Center, the Musqueam Nation, Tsleil Waututh Nation and the Electrical Joint Training Committee. 

“When we facilitate training for Aboriginal people so they’re qualified for well-paying jobs, and we hire skilled Aboriginal workers, everyone wins,” Bruce says. “We strengthen our relationships with local Aboriginal communities, and we benefit from an increasingly diversified workforce.”

Learn more about how we’ve committed to building effective Aboriginal relationships.