I'd like to commence. We're running a bit behind. Welcome to our new committee, the members who are with us after the membership change. I'm not sure if it's going to be a permanent change or not, but if it is, welcome to the committee. I look forward to working with all of you.
With that, I think we'll commence.
We have with us in person Mr. Patrick Cheechoo, representing the Native Women's Association of Canada. Via teleconference we have Mr. Howard McIntyre from Suncor Energy Inc.
We'll ask Mr. McIntyre to introduce the witness who is with him. I believe it is Madam Virginia Flood.
Of course, we are still discussing procurement matters. This study was initiated a couple of months ago. We'll talk with committee members a little later about how we wish to proceed.
Colleagues, at about 12:45, I'll see if we can suspend and go to an in camera discussion on future business. We have a number of calendar items we have to discuss and some future business that I'd like to consult all of you about. If I have your concurrence on that, we'll see if we can get through this section by approximately 12:45.
With that, colleagues, we will commence. We will start with Mr. Cheechoo, since we have him with us. Then we'll go to Mr. McIntyre and Madam Flood.
Mr. Cheechoo, do you have an opening statement?
The floor is yours, sir. You have 10 minutes.
I was told they were going to go first, but I'm fine.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land are gathered on is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe. I am honoured to stand before the standing committee, along with colleagues committed to the empowerment of indigenous peoples, promoting self-sufficiency and advancing economic opportunities.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to the committee about indigenous women's business experiences and the procurement strategy for aboriginal business. As you can guess, I'm not an indigenous woman, but our executive director was unable to make it and sends her regrets.
I am Patrick Cheechoo, I'm the director of operations for the Native Women's Association of Canada. The organization is affectionately known as NWAC. NWAC is the long-standing national voice for indigenous women on urgent issues, including missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, truth and reconciliation, and more recently, building a nation-to-nation relationship with Canada.
As a primary organization representing indigenous women, we have a long history of successful projects, programs, and partnerships with government and industry from across Canada. In Canada the number of indigenous women who work for or are developing their own businesses is growing. Our nation's indigenous population is booming, and we want to ensure that our women will share in any prosperity that may result from increased business with government through the procurement process.
NWAC is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural, and political well-being of the women we represent within first nation, Métis, Inuit, and Canadian societies. As part of our mandate we support indigenous women's labour market participation and economic development opportunities. NWAC is committed to enhancing and strengthening the economic reality of aboriginal women, their families and communities across Canada.
It is important that the federal government aims to increase the number of aboriginal firms participating within the procurement process, including those owned and operated by indigenous women. As such, we welcome the opportunity to speak about the procurement strategy for aboriginal business.
The Native Women's Association of Canada's research, partnerships, and networking have revealed that indigenous women's businesses experience significant barriers to development and expansion. These barriers are relevant for indigenous women who wish to access procurement contracts with government departments. In order for indigenous women's business suppliers to access the benefits of the procurement strategy for aboriginal business and submit proposals, a larger strategic approach is needed to support their businesses from the ground up, from conception to implementation. For instance, barriers to financing and credit mean that indigenous women cannot leverage existing infrastructure to implement their concepts. Many live in poor socio-economic situations and isolated communities. Without first addressing the social determinants of their health, they cannot even begin to access the intended benefits of the federal procurement strategy.
As for the procurement strategy for aboriginal business, the process itself, indigenous women would benefit from training on how to structure their bids for government contracts to fit smoothly into the federal procurement strategy, not only as it is now but also in the new iteration. In addition, some departments only accept electronic bids, which can limit participation by smaller businesses owned by indigenous women and located in smaller or remote communities without the needed technological infrastructure. It should not be mandatory for an indigenous woman to move her business from her community and culture to do business with the wider world.
If you think there are no business solutions or innovative service delivery options to be found out there, we suggest you enhance the virtual highway to discover all those amazing concepts you've been missing out on.
Concerning the mandatory and voluntary set-asides within the procurement strategy, NWAC recommends that indigenous women-owned set-asides be established in order to help our women sustain their markets. It would also be beneficial for the federal government to establish a multi-year, longer-term commitment to purchase their goods and services. This would provide additional stability and support for indigenous women seeking to develop their businesses.
As part of the procurement strategy, the federal government promotes sub-contracting through aboriginal firms and encourages joint ventures between aboriginal and non-aboriginal businesses. It would be beneficial if the bidding evaluation process could be enhanced to recognize and reward the presence of indigenous women amongst those joint ventures as employees and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, all procurements over $5,000 for which aboriginal populations are primary recipients are restricted exclusively to qualified aboriginal suppliers. These are mandatory set-asides.
There also exist voluntary set-asides at the discretion of the federal departments where aboriginal capacity exists, but how often does this occur? How often do aboriginal businesses succeed in securing federal contracts in open competition with non-aboriginal businesses? It would be helpful to see the statistics. We are concerned that the voluntary set-aside policies may leave the process open to interpretation; therefore, we'd like to be assured the federal departments and agencies are adhering to the mandatory set-aside requirements. We would also like to see the establishment of an evaluation process that monitors and measures the particular success of indigenous women with the federal procurement system. Such an evaluation process would provide ongoing performance measurement data that tracks how indigenous women attempt to secure government contracts versus how often they actually succeed in the process.
It would also be helpful to understand the criteria the government uses to judge an aboriginal business, and in the opinion of federal departments and agencies, what is hindering a successful application among aboriginal business owners in general and indigenous women in particular.
Please note that many indigenous women are not aware of the procurement strategy for aboriginal business. As such it would be beneficial for the government to consider targeted promotion and marketing specifically for indigenous women. It would be beneficial to establish a formal government mechanism to implement and monitor this outreach towards indigenous women, and NWAC would be happy to sit on an associated advisory body that would be supported with online and print materials on how to submit a solid application and on understanding the registration process, where to submit it, and who to contact. The federal government encourages aboriginal firms to get to know the people within the departments who may wish to buy their goods and services, yet for many indigenous women the federal government appears as a large, faceless, inaccessible bureaucracy that is very difficult to reach.
NWAC can assist with this by spreading awareness through our social media platforms. We also publish quarterly reports to our stakeholders and clients regarding the labour market information and entrepreneurship for indigenous women. We could highlight the procurement strategy for aboriginal business in our next bulletin and welcome comments about the strategy from indigenous women concerning their awareness and personal experience while trying to bid for federal contracts. We could then share their experiences and comments with you, if this is something that interests the standing committee.
Please recognize that we appreciate your ongoing dialogue with NWAC and our counterparts to find productive, beneficial ways to increase the presence of indigenous business in the federal procurement process. The conversation we are having today will not just have a significant impact on the economic viability of businesses owned by indigenous women, it will have a positive impact on their whole community. Through dialogue, indigenous women can work with you as business leaders in indigenous communities to identify and demolish barriers that exist in the procurement process. Development of that process occurring in consultation and co-operation with indigenous women cannot help but ensure it becomes more equitable and able to help our sisters across Canada play a strong leadership role as partners in the development of their businesses and their communities.
Thank you for inviting us here to speak to your standing committee today on your study on how the federal government can improve access to federal procurement opportunities.
My name is Ginny Flood, and I'm the vice-president for government relations. Howard McIntyre is our vice-president for supply chain and field logistics.
My remarks will provide an overview of how Suncor is working with aboriginal peoples, whereas Howard will focus on the procurement approaches and the relationships.
We would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather here in Calgary is home to many aboriginal peoples and is the traditional territory of Treaty 7, which includes the Stoney Nakoda, Tsuu T'ina, and Blackfoot, including the Siksika, the Kainai, and the Piikani.
Suncor is Canada's largest integrated energy company, contributing significantly to Canada's economy and jobs. We are best known for our oil sands production, but we also operate three refineries in Canada, in Edmonton, Sarnia, and Montreal. We have 1,800 Petro-Canada retail and wholesale locations. We have four wind farm power projects, and we have Canada's largest ethanol production facility. Many of our operations are located right across Canada. We operate on the traditional territories of 140 aboriginal communities across Canada, so we hope we can share some of our experiences.
Suncor strives to be a leader with respect to environmental, social, and governance matters, and it is with this concept in mind that we recently created the position of chief sustainability officer, who has a strong accountability for our relationships with aboriginal people. That's where we'll focus today's conversation.
While our company has worked with aboriginal communities for more than 40 years, we recognize that sometimes our approach has been colonial rather than collaborative—we wanted to “do” or “fix” things rather than seeking to understand the interests and the needs of the communities.
This has been a journey and a learning experience. As you can see from the slide that we provided with the text, this has been a work in progress from 1999.
In 2016, we launched our first social goal within our company, declaring our intent to do things differently. We're choosing a new path that focuses on strengthening relationships so that aboriginal peoples can play a larger role in how energy is developed from project conception through to reclamation. It reflects our commitment to change the way we think and act as an organization.
Howard will speak specifically about procurement, but I first want to highlight a number of ways that Suncor is working with aboriginal people.
An important learning is that if you listen and if you are maybe creative, you can probably find other mutually beneficial arrangements that go beyond just procurement. We'd encourage you to put procurement within that broader context. I'll just give you a few examples of where our journey has taken us.
We have 26 Petro-Canada stations that are first nations owned. Fort McKay First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation purchased 49% equity position in a billion-dollar oil sands infrastructure project. The Aamjiwnaang First Nation, whose reserve is adjacent to our refinery in Sarnia, holds a 25% interest in the Adelaide wind power project near Strathroy, Ontario. As well, Suncor purchased a 41% stake in Petronor, which is operated and owned by the James Bay Cree.
I'm going to turn the presentation over to Howard so he can give you a few examples of our procurement.
Good morning, everyone. Thanks for taking the time, and thanks for the opportunity to speak to you. I commend you for learning more about this area. It's a very important part of our business.
I understand that you had a number of sessions this year, and from them I think you should be in a position to agree that the capability and diversity of aboriginal businesses is quite outstanding and that they in a position to grow going forward.
In 2017, I'm proud to say that Suncor spent $521 million on goods and services from 197 aboriginal businesses and suppliers. This brings us over the $4-billion mark since we started in 1999. We're aiming to build on these successful relationships and see a lot of growth opportunity going forward. We want to apply what we've learned more consistently in our economic envelope and broaden it across business lines so that more aboriginal entrepreneurs and communities have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from our operations.
I thought I'd share with you six lessons that we've learned and applied that enable us to be successful in this area.
First, we ingrain aboriginal commerce in our culture. The most important aspect of continuously being able to seek to develop these opportunities is to embed this attitude within our staff and our vendor community. We do this by ensuring that our staff have aboriginal awareness training as a baseline. In my group of approximately 792 people, 75% of the organization has completed basic web training on this. We expect to get close to 100% by the end of the first quarter. Many more employees have participated in advanced training and learning opportunities and associated themselves with aboriginal groups. We're trying to incorporate this understanding so it's part of our mindset and comes instinctually in what we do. In many ways, it's very similar to the safety journey that we've ingrained in our staff at our contractor program.
We've developed processes, policies, and metrics. We hold ourselves accountable. We measure ourselves. This is supported by governance structure where both Ginny and I sit on Suncor's Aboriginal Relations Vice-President Committee. We believe that leading from the top is important. We have complementary governance structures in other areas of our organization. Mel Benson, from Beaver Lake Cree Nation, has been on our Suncor board of directors since 2000.
The second thing we do is to develop joint business development plans. We have a long history of working with aboriginal suppliers, particularly Wood Buffalo. We're working with some communities in Wood Buffalo to generate these joint business development plans, which aren't short-term focused. They can look well into the future. We co-create these plans, and they provide structure for how we work together and collectively focus on the same objectives. These annual work plans have helped aboriginal communities to direct their efforts where there is a possibility to increase their business and help Suncor to track our suppliers' capabilities and to identify new opportunities.
Together, we're building increased capacity. I can't express enough how important it is to recognize that this requires a long-term investment, a lot of effort, and investment in relationships. We grow together with patience and hard work in looking for opportunity, giving opportunity and accepting it; in listening and discussing; in getting creative and working together to navigate through growing pains; and in keeping communication open. It's much more than simply posting opportunities on Merx and hoping for good things to come.
The third thing that we do is to diversify aboriginal procurement. Internally, we're working with each of our supply chain categories and looking for opportunities where there's a natural fit for aboriginal entrepreneurs and communities to participate. We're finding ways to broaden and diversify the scope of our overall spending available to these aboriginal groups. We're working directly with them to select the businesses to help build their capabilities.
We're also investing resources to develop our business line. Just recently, as an example, we added new resources to take a look at what we could do with our downstream operations. Specifically, we're investing in people to look at how we can marry up in our refining operations contracted work and aboriginal opportunities there. I think Suncor will be spending money in this area in a very big way going forward. We always look at how we can support each other in launching a business that can grow and mature over time. It's an ongoing investment by both parties.
The next new initiative is a sustainable supply chain. We work with our contractors and our suppliers, who provide a lot of our commercial work, to promote shared values, such as increasing aboriginal participation in both the aboriginal and non-aboriginal companies. We take into account their aboriginal strategies when evaluating each contract. When they make a bid about their commitment to the community, and particularly to the aboriginal groups, that measure is weighted.
I've recently begun a new review of our sustainable supply chain. We believe there's a lot of opportunity here. It talks about community, it talks about the economy, and it talks about investment in the environment.
Frankly, some businesses might be majority aboriginal-owned in name, but have little role for aboriginal people, yet some non-aboriginal companies can be very good at employing aboriginal groups and getting them started and in developing strong relationships with these communities. It is complex and something that we will be taking a closer look at. We work with aboriginal organizations, the NAABA and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, CCAB. We're very well connected, we sponsor events, we attend and we help them.
CCAB runs a certification standard for progressive aboriginal relations, which confirms corporate performance in this area. I'm happy to announce that last fall Suncor received gold-level certification, the highest level recognition, which we're very proud of. Our chief operating officer, Mark Little, has just agreed to be an inaugural co-chair procurement champion with CCAB.
Last but not least, we work with industry associations, such as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Mining Association of Canada, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. We try to influence these people to do the right thing.
In conclusion, I can tell you that aboriginal businesses are a major opportunity across the country, for us, for you, and for other companies. They provide a broad diversity of products and services, excellent quality, with very good pricing, efficiency, and safety records. There is no way that Suncor would be as successful as we are today without these crucial business relationships. We know they'll be important going forward. Suncor continues on its journey to fully utilize aboriginal businesses and is pleased that this committee is looking into the procurement strategy as it relates to this area. I'm excited not only for the past accomplishments that we've had, but also the promise of tomorrow. Our $520 million last year is going to grow significantly in the years ahead.
We now look forward to answer any questions you might have of us.
I want to thank all of you and welcome you to our committee.
Maybe, Mr. Cheechoo, I'm going to wait for you to be ready to hear me in French or English.
This is an important topic, and I am pleased to be able to hear the viewpoint of the Native Women's Association of Canada, and to learn about how to do business with enterprises that belong to indigenous women. I am also happy to hear the opinion of the private sector from the Suncor Energy representatives. As they indicated, it is a respected and renowned enterprise that is widely well-regarded, which is all to its credit.
I'd like to speak to the Suncor representatives and gain some understanding of the business integration.
You included a graph in appendix A entitled “Suncor's Aboriginal Annual Revenues Earned”. What can that income be compared to? We see that the company's overall income has grown. What is this due to? In percentage terms, what has that growth been in the past ten years? What guarantees are there that this growth in indigenous business income that is derived from Suncor will continue?
I mentioned in my overview that there are two things we do.
We always make ourselves conscious of the capabilities of aboriginal companies and communities. We have dialogues, and when we do a bidding process we have a pretty good understanding of who is interested in the business and who is capable.
The second thing we do is that we make this a topic with major companies in Canada that do construction work for us. We ask them about the capability in areas where we operate, and we say, “You know what? There's a really good capacity and capability in the aboriginal area to do some of the work.” Many of them subcontract in the areas. The majority of the work that's done for us is in the construction area.
There's a third thing we do. We try to have dialogues with these organizations and with individual first nation groups to talk to them about where we see our business needs going forward and to help them with their development goals: to develop their own capacity, not necessarily for the needs of today but for tomorrow's. I'm personally very well vested and interested in growing the long-term capacity of the aboriginal community.
For example, we think there's a fantastic opportunity for them to play a role in the environmental monitoring of our facilities as we grow going forward. They have awareness. They have understanding. They have appreciation. They have capacity. That could be an example of a new business area that we could help co-develop with them to hit our target of $600 million plus over the next couple of years.
With the building trades unions, we think there is a big opportunity for capacity-training of aboriginal groups so they can be members of building trades groups and unions. We don't have any specific call-out to only employee aboriginal groups that come from these trade areas.
In influencing contractors, I mentioned that we believe they're an important available labour source in that area. It's not so much an issue today, but in the past trying to get labour into the Wood Buffalo region in Alberta was a challenge. It was a natural fit to use the resident workforce to increase our the capability there and not to have to worry about the transportation of migrant workers there.
I think we've been very successful with a lot of our big contractors to willfully and successfully employ aboriginal entrepreneurs in communities in that area. If I take a look at growth going forward, the hard work is getting started. I mentioned we just finished a very big project, and we're very satisfied with the quality of work that was done. Our contractor was very satisfied with the new aboriginal engagement they had. I think that's going to be how this is amplified, not just for Suncor, but, certainly, within that concentrated area, the next job they bid on for a competitor for Syncrude or whatever could very well have a bigger aboriginal content.
Yes, I would say absolutely.
Getting back to that, one of the things is understanding the culture of the communities you're working in.
Last year or two years ago, we developed web-based training for all of our employees, and Howard mentioned that his staff were taking that. It was really developed with the aboriginal peoples. We've made it public now, but it's about understanding that issue around culture, the capabilities, and the capacity within the communities.
Again, it gets back to, if you take this one-size-fits-all approach, you're probably going to have a few successes, but not as great as they could be if you're looking at having more flexibility. It's about understanding that culture, and the departments that are working in those communities have the relationships that understand those cultures they're working within.
A large part of our spend is in the area of construction—providing transportation, providing workers that do some of the construction on what we call turnaround projects or new builds. That's a big piece of it.
If I look at first nations and where we spend our money, I see that in 2017 we exceeded all our goals—Mikisew Cree, $84 million; Athabasca Chipewyan, $53 million. Fort McKay is our biggest spend at $155 million, and so on going forward. We have a very diverse number of groups involved. We spend with 197 groups, and as I mentioned, we're also seeing an expansion, from something that's based predominantly in construction and maintenance, into other areas, such as environmental services and some other areas. We are trying to grow that diversity by growing knowledge and capacity of the business opportunity in those areas. Quite frankly, when we attend CCAB and some of these other events, we speak to what we see as the biggest opportunities going forward.
You mentioned some good examples in our downstream assets owned and operated by aboriginal groups, and as we continue to grow our economic presence in Canada—construction and maintenance is big today—we're diversifying into other areas.
Mr. Drouin, this is a good point for me to emphasize inflect something that I've been waiting to do for this group. It's my mantra here; that is, the powers of positive deviance.
We have to spend time to find out where things are working and understand why, even if it's a minority; learn from that, and then find a way to replicate it. With examples of where things have worked, we say if this has worked over here and there was a good outcome, then how can we approach the development of an entrepreneur or business or find a way to marry this company and that company together? I'd say that a large part of our success is finding what works, the power of positive deviance, and trying to replicate it.
The challenge that we've had is that there have have been many occasions when an aboriginal group or entrepreneur has come to the table and not been fully qualified. They don't have the big plan on how they're going to source their workers, how they're going to have a trained set of workers, etc., and then sometimes they're not successful in their bid.
It's about being honest and transparent with them on why they didn't succeed, what they could have done to win that bid, and giving them some input on their business development plans and what they need to do to be successful, as opposed to just saying, you weren't successful. We've seen many companies that have been the second or third bidder. Over the years they have developed a capable workforce, an infrastructure, brought the right people on board, and then suddenly they earn the business. If we share with them why they haven't been successful, and are open and transparent, they then have something to work on and what it's going to take to win.
I can't emphasize enough that there are a lot of examples out there, and they grow every year, on what's working. If you could just assemble that group of those who are succeeding, and learn from it, then we could all collectively benefit from it.
It's good to have you all here, and it's good to be part of this committee. I'm hoping to be a full-time member.
Let's start with Mr. Cheechoo.
A lot of my colleagues, in their discussion, covered a lot of the barriers. One of the things that stuck with me was the offer or the recommendation that you put on the table around consultation and partnership—specifically with NWAC—in helping to improve the process and bring access to the training, education, and to address financial barriers, etc.
You briefly touched on the type of model of partnership in your previous comment, but can you expand on that? How can we go about facilitating that consultation and partnership? What would be the first step that your organization would take, and we could facilitate, to build on or design that partnership?
Thank you to our participants for being here with us this morning. It's very much appreciated.
I want to start with Suncor. Frankly, I think you're coming across as more modest than you need to be. Your relationship with aboriginals is much more than just a procurement relationship or supplier relationship of course. It's much more than a business relationship. It's much more than a business partnership, although it's all those things. It's part of your culture, isn't it?
Maybe you can take the opportunity to expand on that. I think it's important for us in the government to realize that these things don't happen overnight. It's been a committed effort, I think, for over 40 years by Suncor to develop the aboriginal partnerships that you have, and there are no quick fixes really, are there?
Maybe you can elaborate more on how it goes to the very culture of Suncor. I know about Suncor from reading up about it little bit and being very interested in industry for a long period of time for other reasons, but how did the social goal come to be an important part of your investor relations and a part of the company overall?
Sure. I can start and then maybe Howard can answer.
One of the things that I think we've certainly recognized is that the commitment is right from the top. It's about the importance of having these relationships. We're working in these communities. They're very much part of our business and our success. It's not good enough to just have a few people in the organization who basically are responsible for the relationships. We've really broadened that out in looking at ways of, first of all, really having those respectful relationships. Second, it's about creating the trust so that we can actually have the tough conversations when we need to have them. Also, it's really about learning together.
What often happens, I think, where we've hired and have learned this—it does take some time, and hopefully people can leapfrog—is the idea that if we go in and think we know what's best, we would be looking at it just from our perspective, from a business perspective. You have to actually be looking at it from their perspective as well, and they bring a different perspective to the table. I think what it means is that you have to listen differently, and you have to show up differently. Sometimes it takes a lot longer in order to work with the communities than it does if you want to just negotiate a deal, necessarily. You have to be able to understand why that is, and it's built on trust and respect.
I think that has permeated through our culture at Suncor. We're still continuing to do this. This is not an easy thing to do, but it certainly is worthwhile, and I think our employees see the investment and they as well really feel that it's important.
Thank you for that. I appreciate the elaboration.
This is where I think that part of the perspective as a government, as a player in the procurement world, needs to perhaps take a different approach, maybe emulate Suncor in a certain way, and develop partnerships and relationships with aboriginal groups that may be able to provide services to the government.
Mr. Cheechoo, obviously you've talked about it a bit in your presentation, but can you perhaps elaborate on the approach we're taking and the reason there are these barriers? A part of those barriers is awareness. A part of the barriers, as you've said, is that aboriginal women just see this as something that's out there and may not be for them, if they even know about it at all.
Is there a way for us to develop the trust and the relationship to allow these aboriginal women in business to feel comfortable, to be aware of it, and to feel like they're part of a collaboration with us in providing services to the government. Is this something that we should be doing a lot more of?
I'll give a couple of examples. First of all, entrepreneurs and aboriginal businesses need to know how the procurement process works—how to put in a bid, what's expected—just so they can kind of get to the qualification table. So training, telling them how it works face to face, is important.
Second is telling them what they need to do in order to be a qualified vendor, the expectations of capacity, skills, and things like that. So if we have an incumbent in a position that has our business, tell them what and why it's got that business, so that they have a benchmark to go against.
Finally, I'd say the perspective, which I pleasantly see in many of these communities, is to have a longer term plan. Every piece of opportunity that comes to you isn't necessarily the one you should pick. Know what you're good at, know what your own long-term strategy is and your labour pool and capacity, and then pick that path that has decades' worth of opportunity. Many of the ones we've dealt with have really done a good job of knowing what they are good at, or going to be good at, and then we can daisy-chain into their longer term plan.
I have a few quick questions.
Thank you all for being here; you're doing such good work.
I'd like to ask Suncor three questions. In the best practices you shared, I was amazed at your saying that you had first taken a colonial approach, which nobody admits to, and then went to a collaborative approach. Number one, where did that cultural shift come from?
Number two, when you were engaging the aboriginal communities was there ever an incentive to hire aboriginal employees? I ask because when we met with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, they said the federal government should provide incentives for major businesses or corporate Canada to employ aboriginals.
Finally, how many of the aboriginal entrepreneurs you employ or work with are women? Thank you.