Comprehensive Strategies for Reconciliation
BC Hydro has made a specific effort to support Indigenous communities and prioritizes building those perspectives into their planning and operations. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of Indigenous peoples worldwide. BC Hydro has introduced a mandate to incorporate the UNDRIP into its business, which can be seen throughout the organization, from inclusive hiring practices to partnerships with First Nations.
Commitment to reconciliation
To support BC Hydro’s move toward true and lasting reconciliation with Indigenous People, BC Hydro acknowledges past wrongs, listens to Indigenous perspectives and seeks shared understanding with First Nations communities and governments.
BC Hydro Statement of Indigenous Principles
- We will always operate safely and protect the safety of individuals.
- We will inform First Nations communities, to the best of our ability, of our multi-year planning, identifying potential projects and works as early as possible for discussion.
- We will strive to provide the most clear, accessible, and transparent information possible.
- We will seek advice on Indigenous perspectives on how to best reduce or avoid impacts on the environment, cultural heritage, and social needs.
- We will be accessible and open to understanding the unique interests of Indigenous Peoples in relation to our operations.
- We will respect that our perspectives may be based on different world views.
- We will seek opportunities for meaningful benefit with First Nation communities as we refurbish existing facilities and assets, build new infrastructure, or undertake work.
- We will seek solutions to improving the accessibility of clean reliable and affordable power to First Nations communities in remote areas of the province.
- We will support Indigenous candidates to succeed in gaining employment with BC Hydro and to increasingly become a part of our workforce.
- We will deliver on our commitments, and we will be open and transparent if something is standing in the way of our mutual success.
One of the ways that the organization enacts the statements above is through education. All employees, including contractors, have access to web-based Indigenous Awareness training. They offer an online course, as well as a more intensive half-day course. This training highlights the history of Indigenous people in Canada and B.C. Over 1,500 employees have completed the online course, and 900 participated in the half-day course.
BC Hydro works toward hiring and retaining people with different perspectives, experiences, and ways of thinking. Indigenous candidates can access programs that help with skills upgrading to preparation for apprenticeship and co-op opportunities. They can access pre-employment supports including coaching and interview preparation. BC Hydro’s capacity development and employment programs described below, are designed with to provide information about the types of roles, to experience the workplace culture and to help candidates develop skills to advance in their careers.
BC Hydro training & apprenticeship programs
- Youth Hires program: Job shadow program to provide young people the opportunity to explore different trades and technical careers.
- Pre-apprenticeship program: One-year full-time program designed to provide the basic skills to prepare for the power line technician apprenticeship program.
- Apprenticeship programs: Full-time apprenticeship program consisting of both classroom and on-the-job training.
- Co-op program opportunities: For students in co-op programs at recognized post-secondary institutions. Four-month co-op work terms in the winter (Jan-Apr), summer (May-Aug) and the fall (Sept – Dec) with the possibility to extend the work term up to eight months.
- Try-A-Trade program: An eight-week, paid work experience program offering the opportunity to gain exposure to different trades roles.
- Indigenous Professional in Development: One-year paid work experience and training program for post-secondary graduates.
In addition, BC Hydro offers several Indigenous scholarships and bursaries, created based on an understanding of educational attainment as a barrier to employment for Indigenous Peoples. These awards range from $2,000 to $8,000 and are available to Indigenous students from B.C. First Nations or Indigenous permanent residents of B.C. who are studying at an accredited post-secondary institution in a program that aligns with occupations at BC Hydro.
BC Hydro also focuses on building relationships with First Nations, especially those directly impacted by their operations. The organization understands that communication and mutual respect are integral components of successful relationships and are committed to putting in the required time and effort. True to their Statement of Indigenous Principles, which include a promise to inform First Nations communities about projects and initiatives as early as possible, BC Hydro’s partnerships focus on incorporating the priorities and interests of First Nations into their operations. Below are several examples of how the organization has collaborated with Indigenous communities.
Examples of collaboration
- Leased land from We Wai Kai for the Campbell River II District Office providing a long-term revenue stream for We Wai Kai and providing an anchor tenant for a business park they are developing
- Partnered with Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) who participated in BC Hydro’s LED lighting incentive program to learn about LED lighting for their new business Sugar Cane Cannabis which uses LED lighting model throughout
- Worked with four First Nations in the North to revise highway crossing signs to incorporate the Dane-zaa language and place names as part of highway realignment for Site C
- Worked with Squamish Nation and Coast Salish artist Cory Douglas to design and create a sign for the Cheakamus Generating Station that includes the Squamish language and village name and Coast Salish artwork as part of cultural recognition
- Achieved a cumulative value of over $1 billion in direct contracts issued to Indigenous designated businesses from Fiscal 2015 to present
Progressive Aboriginal Relations designation
The Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program was designed to help Canadian organizations measure and improve their commitment to progressive relationships with Indigenous communities, businesses, and people. PAR Gold companies demonstrate sustained leadership in Aboriginal relations and their commitment to working with Aboriginal businesses and communities. BC Hydro has been a gold-certified company since 2012 and is one of 18 companies in Canada to achieve gold status, and one of only three public utilities.
The range and scope of BC Hydro’s Indigenous initiatives demonstrate their commitment to working with Indigenous communities and advancing reconciliation. BC Hydro said that their teams are focused on learning from Indigenous employees and job seekers about what is important to them, and what can make a real difference. It was a pleasure to listen to and learn from this organization, and both IW and CCDI are pleased to have them as DreamMaker Summit leaders who will continue to grow their reconciliation efforts.