Indigenous Relations at Suncor- 2023 Report on Sustainability

Sep 28, 2023 10:30 AM ET

We broke new ground when we first began publicly reporting our sustainability performance in the mid-1990s. Twenty-eight years later, our Report on Sustainability and its companion publication, the Climate Report, continue the practice of disclosing our progress in more than a dozen areas of environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. Read more on our ESG progress in our reports here.

Partnering with Indigenous communities is foundational to successful energy development. 

Our approach

We seek to build authentic, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous Peoples. We have agreements with a number of Indigenous communities near our operations. These agreements reflect how we work together on a range of matters from project consultation to realizing the benefits of commercial and business opportunities, as well as supporting skills, employment and training programs.

All employees and contractors, as well as our joint venture partners, are responsible for following our policies. Our Chief Executive Officer is accountable to the Board of Directors for ensuring the Stakeholder Relations and Indigenous Relations policies are implemented.

We are guided by the reconciliation framework outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and work to apply its principles in our activities involving Indigenous Peoples, their land and resources. We are also informed and guided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

We also measure and report our performance against the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining Indigenous and Community Relationships Protocol.

Journey of Reconciliation

The Journey of Reconciliation reflects the continued transformation within our organization and in our relationships with Indigenous Peoples. It represents our commitment to learn about Indigenous culture and history with open hearts and minds, to expand our perspectives, and build genuine relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on mutual trust and respect. Through this Journey of Reconciliation, Suncor aspires to progress the way we think and act to learn and better understand Indigenous perspectives and reflect Indigenous knowledge in what we do. We work to recognize the impacts of Suncor’s operations on Indigenous communities and incorporate that knowledge into our business activities.

Reconciliation is critical to healing and deepening relationships with Indigenous Peoples. We are taking an active and meaningful role as outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission call to action #92. We believe it is the right thing to do from a societal and business standpoint. Including Indigenous perspectives brings about innovation and different ways of approaching our work. Building strong relationships with Indigenous communities earns the trust and respect of true partners that helps propel our business and navigate the ever-changing landscape.

The Journey of Reconciliation is fundamental to our purpose. It supports our strategy of becoming a leader in sustainability and the energy transition. Read more on how we are building trust and respect with Indigenous Peoples here.

Partnering with Indigenous business and communities

It starts with open and honest relationship building to understand common interests and how we can partner together for mutual benefit. Meaningful participation requires the ability to understand each other’s desired outcomes, strengths and limitations.

When it comes to our supply chain, our Indigenous Business Participation Strategy supports sourcing activity across the company. Working with local Indigenous businesses provides close and reliable talent and services. It also supports companies to invest revenues back into their communities.

  • In 2022, we spent approximately 27% more with Indigenous suppliers than in 2021.
  • Twenty percent of our overall spending – worth approximately $3.1 billion – was with Indigenous suppliers. This was achieved by focusing on increased engagement and new relationships with suppliers that were established over the past few years. Doing business with Indigenous suppliers is embedded in our way of working, which is why we no longer set an annual spending target.
  • Suncor’s work with Indigenous communities also remains strong through our Petro-Canada™ business. As of 2022, we have 63 Petro-Canada™ branded retail stations and wholesale marketing arrangements with First Nation and Métis communities. Not only do the retail stations service the community, but, in some instances, they act as a place for community members to gather.

Strengthening Indigenous workforce and inclusion

We want Suncor to be an inclusive and diverse work environment where everyone feels valued and respected. We believe this supports strong business performance, differentiates us in our communities and helps us to attract and retain Indigenous employees who want to build meaningful careers for the long term. Based on data from voluntary self-identification, as of 2022, Suncor has 923 Indigenous employees, which is 5.4% of our workforce.

Journeys, Suncor’s Indigenous employee inclusion network, plays an important role in supporting Indigenous employees to feel a sense of safety, pride and belonging within the company. Journeys has been pivotal in creating deep connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees. The network hosts numerous events and cultural experiences throughout the year, including medicine harvests, sharing circles and Indigenous Awareness Week events, inspiring employees to learn and take actions in reconciliation.

We have a Diversity, Talent and Sourcing Advisor, who manages all skills, employment and training for agreements with Indigenous communities. The advisor also works on initiatives such as training-to-employment programs in areas where we operate, and the Oil Sands Regional Workforce committee, led by the Oil Sands Community Alliance, to take a regional approach focused on mentorship and careers for youth in the Wood Buffalo region. The advisor is a resource to advise leaders and employees on Indigenous culture, protocols and knowledge and co-leads Journeys. Additional resources for Indigenous employees include the Indigenous Employee Mentorship Program, and Indigenous Programs for post-secondary students.

Partnering with Indigenous youth

Indigenous youth and their voices represent the future. The Indigenous Youth Advisory Council (IYAC) works with Suncor, the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF), our Indigenous and Community Relations team and various senior leaders to listen, share, reflect and act on issues of mutual interest that are affecting Indigenous communities and the lives of Indigenous youth. It also supports young Indigenous leaders in developing their leadership potential while providing opportunities to participate in the energy system. IYAC further strengthened its relationships with leaders in 2021 through the formation of the IYAC Mentorship Program. The program focuses on reciprocal two-way mentorship between members of the SEF board and IYAC to support one-on-one human connections that are important for strengthening relationships.

Another way we partner with Indigenous youth is through postsecondary institutions across Canada. Since 2019, a member of Suncor’s Indigenous and Community Relations team in Sarnia, Ontario, has been part of a Lambton College planning committee designing an Indigenous Outdoor Gathering Space for youth on campus. Indigenous members of the committee oversaw the entire process and provided valuable direction on the purpose and design of the space. Students at the college will use this space for ceremonies, learning and gathering year-round. It will also be a place where Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and members of the community can walk the reconciliation path together.