Skip ribbon commands
Skip to main content

​​​​

Respecting the traditions and perspectives o​​​f Indigenous Peoples

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, 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 was 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 this day, Enoch Cree Nation and EPCOR signed an MOU formalizing their commitment to working together in the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.


N​ational Day for Truth and ​Reconciliation​

Together with our Indigenous Relations Steering Comm​ittee, EPCOR hosted a series of events, activities and resources for our teams to foster reflection and learning on September 30 and beyond.​​

HOW WE'RE HONORING RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL
SURVIVORS AND THEIR FA​​MILIES



​Our commitment in action​

Proud member of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

As a member of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, we're working to implement comprehensive and robust program toward achieving status under the Council's Progressive Aboriginal Relations Certification. Our goal was to achieve Committed level of status in 2021 and Bronze level certification by the end of 2023. ​

​Although we continued working toward achieving the “Committed” status level throughout 2021, we now expect to reach this target in 2022. This is due to additional time and diligence invested in completing our Indigenous Peoples Policy​, which was approved in February 2022; and the completion of a Leadership Commitment Statement and Employee Communication and Training Plan. These elements will support progression to the “Committed” status level in 2022 and move us towards reaching “Bronze” level certification by the end of 2023.​​

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 excavations related to our projects are taking place. We regularly reach out to more than 30 First Nations and Métis communities in the greater Edmonton area on major projects in the river valley. Even projects that may seem simple can unearth an important part of history that requires a respectful approach to honoring the past and moving toward the future.

Archeological monitoring and partnerships with Indigenous Nations also extends beyond Edmonton, including work in the Southern Bruce region of Ontario as part of our recent natural gas distribution projects. This enables Indigenous Nations and communities to participate in oversight of archeological work and ensures the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives. 

Building ​a future together – 2021 progress update

This past year saw EPCOR connect with Indigenous communities on six occasions to review potential findings that were located 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 a full bison skull. Consultation with Indigenous leaders from Enoch Cree Nation resulted in a smudge ceremony, a prayer song and laying of tobacco, before the extraction was completed​.

Apart from this particular find, work supervised by archaeologists and Indigenous communities on the grounds at the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant has discovered cultural deposits such as tools and animal bone fragments, as well as signs of historical activities like camp sites and fires. This has provided opportunities 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 planning and projects for Edmonton-based water treatment plants, a key part of the consultations focused on our work with Indigenous leaders and communities who wanted to get both a deeper understanding of the projects and a direct connection with the lands.

By the end of 2021, over 80% of identified Indigenous Nations and communities had participated in various engagement activities, and EPCOR created an opportunity to visit the grounds of the E.L. Smith plant for a walking tour where stories of the past were shared, as well as a vision for the future.

Representatives from 11 Indigenous Nations and communities took part in the walking tour where they were able to connect with history, learn about the activities that took place on the lands, and discuss the flood protection project. Participants walked the length of future development for the berm and flood wall that will be installed, learned about commitments to protect the environment and mitigate any impacts of development, while sharing perspectives on the importance of moving forward for the growth and care of generations to come.

Learn more about our work at the E.L. Smith and Rossdale Water Treatment Plants.

Partnering on clean water and utility infrastructure

We're 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 in Ontario and British Columbia, seeking opportunities to work together to bring safe, clean drinking water to Indigenous communities; build reliable wastewater services; and support community economic development.

We are also working to create an internal database of Indigenous businesses and suppliers that exist and operate in the communities we serve.

 Community Investment

Through our community investment funding, we support organizations dedicated to supporting Indigenous students and youth along their educational journey to help them have a better chance of success. 

  • In early 2020, we partnered with the First Peoples' House at the University of Alberta to support the success of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) learners by funding the Transition Year Program to provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum supports until 2023. Learn more about this great program in the feature story: Clearing the Way​.
  • We have been providing annual support for an Indigenous Cultural Liaison with BGCBIGS since 2018, as well as the Indigenous Career Pathways program through Careers: Next Generation since 2015.

When COVID-19 impacted the community, EPCOR stepped up and introduced two years of special funding to support sectors significantly impacted by the pandemic. Arts, culture and festival organizations along with charitable sector received funding.

In 2020 and 2021, EPCOR provided more than $775,000 in community support through the programs outlined above.

Heart + Soul supports Indigenous Peoples Experience

Combining EPCOR’s spirit of community giving and our ongoing efforts to promote the spirit of reconciliation, a portion of the funding provided through the Heart + Soul Fund​ in 2021 supported Fort Edmonton Park in delivering Indigenous-focused workshops and educational programs as part of the new Indigenous Peoples Experience installation. 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, we formed an Indigenous Relations Steering Committee, which has representation from senior leadership and Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees from across the organization. The committee is providing leadership and guidance in our work to pursuing business opportunities with Indigenous companies and suppliers, recruiting Indigenous employees, and supporting 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

Supporting greater awareness, understanding and recognition of Indigenous culture, traditions and history throughout the organization is also an objective of our Employees Resource Group (ERG): SPIRIT (Supporting People in Reconciliation of Indigenous Truths). This ERG provides a safe space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees to share, learn and grow together; playing a positive role in fostering Indigenous inclusion, supporting anti-racism and encouraging reconciliation within EPCOR and our communities.

​Featur​ed st​​ory:
EPCOR-Enoch MOU

Edmonton's E.L. Smith and Rossdale Water Treatment Plants in Edmonton 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

EP​COR-Enoch MOU

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 is connected to the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant.​

Read the news release​

Learn more about our solar farm project​​​​


​National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On this day we join our friends, neighbors and communities across Canada in recognizing and honoring residential school survivors and their families through commemoration, acts of reconciliation and the sharing of Indigenous culture, history and perspectives. 

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 it a long road to reconciliation, healing and equality. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but as a company the community counts on, an employer, a neighbor and a friend, we are committed to that journey – and to doing the right thing.

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.

​​

​How we're honoring residential school survivors, their families and the children who never made it home

As an organization, we are embarking on a shared journey and are taking steps together toward truth and reconciliation.

On September 30, 2021, EPCOR honored residential school surviv​ors and their families through commemoration, acts of reconciliation, and shared learnings. We hosted events for our employees to reflect on the lasting impact of residential schools, demonstrate our support for the survivors, their families and their communities; and learn how we can all contribute to reconciliation.

To encourage a greater understanding and appreciation for Indigenous culture and the important role Indigenous Peoples played in shaping our country, we are hosting a series of events and activities throughout the month of September and beyond.