Trade show series connects Aboriginal businesses, pipeline contractors

Enbridge initiative aimed at fostering business relationships

Connecting with Aboriginal businesses in Canada? Bill Crowe figures it’s a matter of dollars – and (common) sense.

“When I first started working in the oilfields, and this is going back 17 years now, I remember thinking: ‘Why aren’t there more Aboriginals involved out here?’ I distinctly remember thinking that,” says Crowe, president of Saskatoon-based First Alliance Construction. “Things have really changed since then.”

Enbridge’s 2015 Aboriginal Business Reverse Trade Show series, which will wrap up at Saskatoon’s Dakota Dunes Casino on Friday, April 24, is a fitting case in point.

In recent years, it’s been estimated that more than 36,000 Aboriginal businesses will contribute about $32-billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) activity, in combined income, across business and government in Canada by 2016.

Enbridge is committed to providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Native American-owned businesses to benefit from our projects, starting with contract opportunities in the construction phase.

This 2015 Aboriginal Business Reverse Trade Show series, which began April 7 in Edmonton and continued April 16 in Winnipeg, featured Enbridge contractors staffing exhibitor booths. As many as 200 invited guests have attended – representing local Aboriginal businesses, as well as non-profits and governmental organizations that support local Aboriginal business development, employment, and training.

(APRIL 27 UPDATE: Friday's event in Saskatoon also drew interest from the local media, with both the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Missinipi Broadcasting, a Saskatchewan-based First Nations radio network, interviewing delegates and providing coverage.)

“This reverse trade show series is all about fostering business relationships between our contractors and local Aboriginal businesses,” says Jordan Duguay, an Aboriginal business advisor with Enbridge’s Aboriginal Relations division. “Our contractors know that Enbridge is serious about creating economic opportunities for Aboriginal businesses, and this series allows us to spread the word even further.”

While this series is not focused on any specific Enbridge initiative, many of the contractors represented at Friday’s reverse trade show event in Saskatoon, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be involved in Enbridge’s proposed $7.5-billion Line 3 Replacement Program, the largest project in Enbridge history.

Enbridge will spend about $4.9-billion on the Canadian portion of the Line 3 Replacement Program, if approved. The L3R Program’s construction phase in Canada is expected to generate:

  • 11,183 temporary full-time equivalent jobs in Alberta, 9,175 in Saskatchewan, and 3,823 in Manitoba;
  • $216.5 million in federal, provincial, and local tax revenue in Alberta, $183.9 million in Saskatchewan, and $108.2 million in Manitoba; and
  • $1.389 billion in GDP in Alberta, $1.065 billion in Saskatchewan, and $391.9 million in Manitoba.

At the same time, Aboriginal groups have become more sophisticated in creating their own governance to take advantage of economic opportunity, says Crowe.

First Alliance Construction, for example, is owned by the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC), an association of six Saskatchewan-based First Nations. And Friday’s event venue, the Dakota Dunes Casino, is owned by the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, which also owns a golf course and is developing a commercial business centre.

“The company I represent (whose partner organization, Site Energy Services, has a booth at these events), we have the capacity to build pipelines, as well as heavy construction and civil earthworks,” says Crowe. “And we’re certainly not the only ones out there.

“Trade shows like these create relationships with a mutual benefit. I take my hat off to Enbridge for what they’re doing, organizing something like this.”