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Respecting traditions and perspectives

As a company that operates across North America, we respectfully acknowledge that our work takes place on the territory and traditional lands of many Indigenous Peoples. Several of our Canadian operations reside on treaty territory.

​Our history is interwoven with the development of Edmonton, also known by the traditional name Amiskwaciwâskahikan (meaning Beaver Hills House), the histories and legacies of interaction between settlers and Indigenous Peoples, and the siting of our facilities within Edmonton. The banks of the North Saskatchewan River, where both our water treatment plants are located, have been a sacred gathering place since time immemorial.​

We respect the histories, languages and cultures of First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and all Indigenous peoples across North America, whose presence continues to enrich our vibrant community.

We recognize the deep connections Indigenous Peoples have to the land and water and respect their rights, history, culture, aspirations and diversity. This has led to our commitment to becoming a sector leader in Indigenous relations and to creating an environment where the participation, perspectives and traditions of Indigenous Peoples are respected and valued in our business today and into the future. ​

​Ceremony returned to the land surrounding the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant (the former reserve lands of Enoch Cree Nation) on September 1, 2020, for the first time in over 100 years. On that day, Enoch Cree Nation and EPCOR signed a memorandum of understanding formalizing their commitment to working together in the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

​Our commitment in action​

Proud member of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

As a member of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, we've implemented a comprehensive program to be certified by the council's Progressive Aboriginal Relations program. We achieved “Committed status in 2022 and are working towards obtaining Bronze status. ​

EPCOR is also registered as a CCAB Procurement Champion. Champions are CCAB Members committed to increasing opportunities for Indigenous businesses to participate in their supply chains. ​

​We were granted “Committed” status in large part due to the additional time and diligence invested in completing our Indigenous Peoples Policy​, which was approved in February 2022, as well as completion of a Leadership Commitment Statement​ and Employee Communication and Training Plan.

Archeological monitoring with Indigenous Nations​

An important part of our planning process includes our Indigenous Monitoring Program, which provides Indigenous Nations and communities with access to sites where EPCOR project excavations take place. We regularly reach out to more than 30 First Nations and Métis communities in the greater Edmonton area on major projects in the North Saskatchewan River valley. Even the simplest of projects can unearth important parts of history that require a respectful approach to honoring the past and moving foward in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

Archeological monitoring and partnerships with Indigenous Nations also extend beyond Edmonton, including in the Southern Bruce region of Ontario, as part of our expansion of natural gas distribution. Indigenous Nations and communities are able to participate in oversight of archeological work, ensuring the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives. 

Building ​a future tog​​ether: 2021 progress update​

In 2021, EPCOR connected with Indigenous communities on six occasions to review potential archeological findings that were made during projects. For example, during a maintenance project to replace a water main, hydrovac crews discovered a bison horn, which, following further excavation by an archaeologist, turned out to be attached to a full bison skull. Consultation with Indigenous leaders from Enoch Cree Nation led to a smudge ceremony, a prayer song and laying of tobacco, before the extraction was completed​.

Aside from this particular find, work supervised by archaeologists and Indigenous communities on the grounds of the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant uncovered cultural deposits such as tools and animal bone fragments, as well as signs of historical activities such as camps and fires. This has provided opportunities for both EPCOR and participating Nations and communities to learn more about the history of the site and river valley, which points to multiple different occupations over thousands of years.​

As EPCOR moved forward with flood protection for its Edmonton water treatment plants, a key part of the consultations focused on its work with Indigenous leaders and communities, which wanted to more deeply understand the projects and connect with the lands.

By the end of 2021, over 80 percent of Indigenous N​ations and communities EPCOR works with had participated in various engagement activities. EPCOR also arranged walking tours of the E.L. Smith Plant, with representatives from 11 Indigenous Nations and communities taking part in them​. Participants shared stories of the land, connected with its history, learned about EPCOR's activities on the lands, and discussed the flood protection project. Participants examined the land where a berm and flood wall will be installed, learned about EPCOR's commitments to protect the environment and mitigate any impacts of development, and shared perspectives on the importance of moving forward for the growth and care of generations to come.

Our work at the E.L. Smith and Rossdale Water Treatment Plants

Partnering on clean water and utility infrastructure

EPCOR is developing strong business relationships with Indigenous-owned companies, and engaging in commercial partnerships with Indigenous governments and businesses. We've entered into formal partnerships with two First Nations communities – one in Ontario and one in British Columbia – to bring safe, clean drinking water to Indigenous communities, build reliable wastewater services, and support community economic development.

EPCOR is also committed to developing business relationships with Indigenous-owned businesses, and developing commercial partnerships with Indigenous governments and businesses. As part of our journey, we have created an internal database of Indigenous businesses and suppliers that operate in the communities we serve. Indigenous businesses are invited to apply today.

 Community Investment

Through our Community Investment program, we annually support organizations that help Indigenous students and youth along their educational journeys. 

  • In early 2020, we partnered with the University of Alberta's First Peoples' House and its Transition Year Program, which supports the success of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) learners in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Since 2015, we have supported the Indigenous Career Pathways program through Careers: Next Generation.

Since 2020, EPCOR has committed $3.5 million in pandemic relief and recovery funding through its Heart + Soul Fund, which is in addition to the more than $1 million is provides in community support every year. EPCOR has supported 27 Indigenous arts, cultural and charitable groups or projects through its Heart + Soul Fund.  

Heart + Soul Fund supports Indigenous artists

EPCOR's Heart + Soul Fund was designed to help arts and cultural organizations adapt their creative works and address the demands they face. Combining EPCOR’s spirit of community giving and our ongoing efforts to promote the spirit of reconciliation, the fund has also supported more than two dozen Indigenous initiatives:

  • In 2022, the Heart + Soul Fund supported pêhonân​, the Indigenous-led and Indigenous-centerd community gathering space at Edmonton renowned International Fringe Theatre Festival.
  • In 2021, the ​Heart + Soul Fund supported Fort Edmonton Park in delivering Indigenous-focused workshops and educational programs as part of the new Indigenous Peoples Experience installation (pictured). This included the sharing of Indigenous narratives, customs and traditions, and the opportunity for participants to grow their understanding and value of our relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

EPCOR's Indigenous Relations Steering Committee

In 2019, EPCOR formed its Indigenous Relations Steering Committee, which has representation from senior leadership and Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees from across the organization. The committee provides leadership and guidance in EPCOR's work to pursue business opportunities with Indigenous companies and suppliers, recruit Indigenous employees, and support the development of learning opportunities for staff.

​​EPCOR's Indigenous R​elations Steerin​g Committee

In 2019, we formed an Indigenous Relations Steering Committee, which has representation from senior leadership and Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees from across the organization. Together, the committee is pursuing opportunities to work with Indigenous businesses and suppliers, recruit Indigenous employees, and educate our employees about Indigenous Peoples and culture.​

SPIRIT: Supporting People in Reconciliation of Indigenous Truths

EPCOR is also committed to building greater awareness, understanding and recognition of Indigenous culture, traditions and history throughout the organization. That is the objective of our Employees Resource Group (ERG) called SPIRIT (Supporting People in Reconciliation of Indigenous Truths). The ERG provides a safe space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees to share, learn and grow together. SPIRIT plays a positive role in fostering Indigenous inclusion, supporting anti-racism and encouraging reconciliation at EPCOR and across the communities we serve.

​Featur​ed st​​ories:

Edmonton's E.L. Smith and Rossdale Water Treatment Plants operate on the former reserve lands of Enoch Cree Nation. Together, we're ensuring this land is respected and protected.​

EPCOR and Enoch Cree Nation have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that formalizes a commitment to work together in the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.Learn more about our commitment


EPCOR and Enoch Cree Nation have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that formalizes a commitment to work together in the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

Learn more about our commitment​​

kīsikāw pīsim ᑮᓯᑳᐤ  ᐲᓯᒼ ​Solar Farm

​In early 2022, Enoch Cree Nation gifted the name kīsikāw pīsim ᑮᓯᑳᐤ  ᐲᓯᒼ to the solar farm that helps to ​power the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant.​

Read the news release​

Learn more about our solar farm project​​​​

​National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Every year on September 30, our offices are closed across Canada as we join our friends, neighbors and communities across the country to recognize and honor residential school survivors and their families. We do this through commemoration, acts of reconciliation and the sharing of Indigenous culture, history and perspectives. 

We encourage our employees to take time to reflect and deepen their understanding about the history of residential schools, commemorate survivors and their families, and to consider their role in the reconciliation journey.

Building a path forward together​​​

It took many generations to shape the deeply rooted circumstances we see in front of us today, which will undoubtedly make for a long road towards reconciliation, healing and equality. ​EPCOR is committed to that journey​.

We are deeply grateful to the Indigenous elders, leaders, knowledge keepers, survivors and families who bravely share their experiences, perspectives and wisdom as we walk through this journey together on September 30, and every day.