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Forward Summit Co-Chair, JP Gladu on Indigenous Economies, Supply Chains, and Procurement

In our continued efforts to enhance and promote Economic Reconciliation, the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB) is excited to be part of Forward Summit. This unique and progressive event will bring major players to the table and foster further growth and awareness in regards to Canada’s Aboriginal Businesses and their many capacities.

Over the past six years, I have served as CEO and President of the CCAB. I have witnessed dramatic growth in our community and a substantial increase in awareness. However, there is still much work to be done.

Aboriginal businesses are ready to join Canada’s supply chains, and we at CCAB are pushing harder than ever for increased access to these networks while promoting and strengthening relationships between private, public and Aboriginal sectors.

“When it comes to Canada’s economy, a healthy Aboriginal Business leads to an overall healthier country.”

This is what Forward Summit is all about; creating opportunity. And furthermore, generating a platform for sustainable and lasting business relationships that will benefit all sides involved. When it comes to Canada’s economy, a healthy Aboriginal Business leads to an overall healthier country.

A lot has happened since I first talked about procurement as the key to building a sustainable indigenous economy. At both our 2018 Aboriginal Economic Development Conference and Calgary Gala held in May, I had the opportunity to share our new Aboriginal Procurement Strategy. The strategy focuses on highlighting the opportunities and value of Aboriginal procurement relationships. With a focus on connecting Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses, the multi-year strategy includes several key pillars and actions:

• CCAB is recruiting leaders from the business community to serve as Aboriginal Procurement Champions.
• CCAB is creating Canada’s largest directory of Certified Aboriginal Businesses, which are independently certified as at least 51% Aboriginal-owned and controlled.
• Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal companies will be able to exchange information about procurement opportunities via a new Aboriginal Procurement Marketplace.

The awareness among Canadians for the need to achieve reconciliation has never been higher. The desire by governments and businesses to work effectively with Aboriginal communities from coast to coast to coast towards the goal of achieving reconciliation has never been more acute. The time to push for change is now.

“Economic reconciliation will see all of us gain access to business opportunities. It will see our communities managing wealth, not poverty. To manage wealth, we need to generate wealth.”

What does economic reconciliation look like?

Economic reconciliation will see all of us gain access to business opportunities. It will see our communities managing wealth, not poverty. To manage wealth, we need to generate wealth. To generate wealth, we will need to leverage our assets, which are our people, land and innovation through business.

Our CCAB members have directed us to create more procurement opportunities. We are being asked to promote and advocate for changes in supply chains across the country. Canadians are also asking for this change. In 2017, the CCAB’s national Canadian survey work produced in cooperation with Sodexo, found that Canadians see the value in Aboriginal businesses competing in supply chains across the country. Approximately 80 per cent of Canadians see procurement as a path to reconciliation.

Our Aboriginal businesses want access to supply chains. Canadians want corporations and governments to open their supply chains to Aboriginal businesses.

This is a call for action. This is the time for change.

Leveraging leading practices in procurement and setting strong targets will empower the 43,000 talented Aboriginal businesses that already exist, and the countless others to come, to play a dominant role in growing not just the Aboriginal economy, but the Canadian economy.

CCAB has always worked as a partner for corporations and governments who want to do more to generate jobs and business opportunities with Aboriginal peoples. CCAB is asking for help from Canadian business leaders.
We have issued a challenge to every corporation across Canada:

• Become an Aboriginal Procurement Champion
• Become a Certified Aboriginal Business

We are asking governments across Canada to support the expansion of Aboriginal procurement opportunities.
Find out how Canadian businesses can become part of this movement by visiting www.supplychange.ca and viewing our Aboriginal Procurement video.

With the help of Suncor COO, Mark Little, Co-Chair of CCAB’s Aboriginal Procurement Champions initiative, we have already in just four short months, secured 34 Champions committed to Supply Change!

These include: Aecon, B.C. Housing, Bee-Clean Building Maintenance, Bird Construction, Bouchier Group, Bruce Power, Cameco, CIBC, Civeo, Clough Enercore, CN, Cortex, E. S. Fox Limited, Fisher Powerline Construction, Fluor, Fort McKay First Nation, Fort McKay Group of Companies, FPAC, Hydro One, Imperial, LiUNA, Ontario Power Generation, ORIGIN, RBC, Resolute Forest Products, SFU, Sodexo, Stantec, Suncor, Syncrude, Tuccaro Group, Union Gas, Venshore Mechanical, and VIP Powerline.

To every CEO and every elected official, this is what sustainable development looks like. This is what economic reconciliation looks like.

Join us in 2019 at Forward Summit to help continue this momentum as we move towards a stronger and more stable Canadian economy.

-JP Gladu, President and CEO – Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

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