Business summits

Enbridge’s Business Summit draws overflow crowd

The promise of jobs and economic growth attracted an overflow crowd at the Enbridge’s second Northern Gateway Business Summit.

A late boost in interest in the Summit held Nov. 1-3 had organizers quickly adjusting to accommodate an additional 150 to 200 delegates – including from some 30 First Nations communities from Alberta and B.C. The additional crowd was over the 200 scheduled to attend the event at the River Cree Resort on the Enoch First Nation near Edmonton.

“Success for me is measured in two ways. Success is measured by attendance and it’s measured by buzz,” said Morgan Yates, Enbridge Northern Gateway Vice President of Aboriginal and Stakeholder Relations.

“From the get-go at this event, it’s just been tremendous momentum and positive buzz.”

Building on the success of Enbridge’s first Northern Gateway Business Summit in 2010, the 2011 edition aimed to connect Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members, leaders and businesses with industry.

The Northern Gateway Project, if approved, promises to generate 62,000-person years of employment during construction across both provinces and beyond. The 1,177-km pipeline and marine project connecting northern Alberta’s prolific oil sands region to a marine port at Kitimat, B.C. aims to have 15% of the construction workforce comprise of Aboriginal people.

Alfred Goodswimmer, Director of Operations for Sturgeon Lake First Nation, made the trip to learn opportunities in industrial support jobs such as trucking and construction but also in energy industry operations.

“As community leaders, we don’t go out and make demands on industry. We establish relationships, have dialogue, and come to agreement on how we are going to work together because it’s the people we want to make sure benefit from these projects,” said Goodswimmer.

Kelly Lendsay, President and CEO of the Aboriginal Human Resource Council, stressed the importance of inclusion of Aboriginals in the new economy – not just for the sake of good jobs today but for vibrant communities into the future.

“People are seeing opportunity. We can no longer live in a world of shame and blame. It’s about how we collaborate, set targets for our communities and then achieve those targets together ,” said Lendsay.

Described as a resounding success, organizers hailed the delegate list that included members of some 30 First Nation and Metis communities from Alberta, B.C. and a number of signed agreements.

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