Working Warriors: Opportunities for Indigenous workers

How industry and Indigenous communities can work together: A perspective from Jamie Saulnier of Running Deer Resources.

The Canadian oil and natural gas industry offers opportunity for Indigenous communities. That can only occur when trust is established and positive relationships are formed between communities and industry through consultation, engagement, and understanding.

Jamie Saulnier is president and CEO of Running Deer Resources which works to create employment opportunities among Indigenous communities and oil and natural gas companies.

For more than 10 years I’ve worked with Indigenous communities to create a bridge between Indigenous peoples and industry to ensure both sides benefit equally when opportunities present themselves. Our guiding principles at Running Deer Resources include being innovative; remaining committed to improving Indigenous engagement; fostering trust and demonstrating commitment in all that we do; demonstrating pride while improving our company and ourselves; and, sharing success with the communities we operate in.

Having worked in Canada’s oil and mining industries, I understand the importance of having a skilled labour force and recognize the incredible resource Aboriginal people provide. Running Deer’s Working Warriors program has created a national skills inventory of Indigenous workers by occupation, business, education, or age and gender demographics. And it continues to grow as Running Deer grows.

In late 2017, Running Deer was awarded a contract by Enbridge to act as an engagement tool between contractors and Indigenous stakeholders on its Line 3 pipeline replacement program. This year, we were awarded another contract by LNG Canada to pilot Working Warriors on the project’s early works.

The oil and natural gas sector has the potential to play a significant role in making positive changes to the lives of Indigenous peoples and in communities. With development comes opportunity for employment and business. There isn’t another sector today that can provide those same opportunities for so many.

If industry wants to have a successful working relationship with Indigenous peoples, it needs to engage face-to-face, not in a boardroom. Don’t wait for a project to build a relationship but seize the opportunity to establish trust before it happens. Know the history of the people, the challenges they have faced, and what they hope to achieve for the future.

Together we can clear a new path for the generations to come.