New research: how Canadian businesses begin and build positive community relations with Aboriginal communities

    38 Businesses report progress: common themes for success emerge

    TORONTO, Feb. 18 /CNW/ - The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
released its first research report today sharing findings on 38 companies and
their progress and commitment to working with Aboriginal people, businesses
and companies. These 38 companies -- from diverse economic sectors and
geographic locations -- represent 300,000 employees in Canada and
approximately $200B in annual revenues and include IBM Canada, BMO, BC Hydro,
Xerox and Place Louis Riel among others. CCAB looked at companies electing to
participate in its Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program between 2001
and 2008.
    "If positive community relations cannot be achieved, nothing else
matters. Real two way communication is the foundation of all positive working
relationships between Canadian businesses and Aboriginal communities," said
Clint Davis, CCAB President and CEO. "Our research provides much needed
insight into the behaviours, attitudes and approaches common to successful
community relations between Canadian businesses and Aboriginal communities at
a time when Aboriginal people represent the fastest growing demographic in
this country."
    In measuring the progress of 38 companies, CCAB notes a growing trend in
cooperation between Canadian companies and First Nations, Métis and Inuit
communities. The trend appears to be largely due to resource development
escalation, labour requirements and emerging northern markets. Positive
company-community relationships demonstrate:

    -   There is no one-size-fits-all template for success: a focus on the
        unique circumstances of each Aboriginal community is most effective.
    -   Time and effort and not necessarily money, are key ingredients to
        effective relationship-building.
    -   As the economic influence of Aboriginal communities continues to
        grow, so will the importance of effective community relations.
    -   Mastering productive community relations is no longer a "nice-to-
        have" for companies seeking a return on their investment;
        increasingly, this is being viewed as a "must-have".

    Davis further noted that companies working with Aboriginal communities
increasingly recognize that long-term commitment can contribute to a
community's economic self sufficiency, further develop financial, technical
and human resource skills among community members and give communities more
control over the development of resources while maintaining cultural values.
    The Report shows that Canadian companies begin, build, and broaden a
positive relationship with First Nations, Inuit, Métis communities though
approaches similar to those often seen in all good working relationships. The
research offers an in-depth look at those approaches and solid examples of
companies and communities working together. Successful programs between
companies and aboriginal communities:

    -   Use systematic communications processes (ESS Compass Group, BC Hydro,
        Alberta Pacific Forest Industries)
    -   Are based on robust collaborative consultation (Syncrude)
    -   Include the willingness to observe cultural differences (Alberta
        Pacific, BMO Financial Group)
    -   Understand the importance of mutual benefit (BMO Financial Group,
        BC Hydro)

           -  100 per cent of all Gold (highest rated PAR companies) have
              been in the program for more than four years
           -  80 percent have participated three or more times in the
              evaluation of their efforts
           -  35 percent of the participating companies have reached Gold

    What's Next: Later in 2009 CCAB plans to release a second piece on
    research on PAR and business development.

    Through CCAB's Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program (PAR), companies
establish an effective strategy to maximize their involvement in the
Aboriginal market. Through a comprehensive self-assessment exercise, companies
assess their individual performance in working with Aboriginal communities,
which are then verified by an independent organization - the National Quality
Institute. This verification is submitted to an independent PAR jury to
determine whether a company's level is Bronze, Silver or Gold.

    METHODOLOGY: The findings in the current report are based on a systematic
review of PAR documentation submitted by 38 companies. The documentation
covers these companies' community relations' practices between 2001-2008.
Company examples were selected that best illustrate the key findings described
in the report. The review of PAR data was supplemented by nine interviews with
community and company representatives.


    ABOUT CCAB: The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) was
founded in 1984 by a small group of visionary business and community leaders
led by Murray Koffler. CCAB is committed to the full participation of
Aboriginal people in Canada's economy. A national non-profit organization,
CCAB offers knowledge, resources, and programs to both mainstream and
Aboriginal owned companies that foster economic opportunities for Aboriginal
people and businesses across Canada.
    CCAB marks its 25th Anniversary on February 18th in Toronto. Daytime and
Evening Events - starting at noon -- will bring together nearly 500 Aboriginal
and non-Aboriginal business and community leaders to meet, debate and
celebrate about the reality, challenges, and benefits of working together.
Both events take place at the Fairmont Royal York in downtown Toronto.

    500 Business and Aboriginal Business and Community Leaders Gathering in

    NOON: A SOLD OUT FORUM ON Corporate Social Responsibility and Aboriginal

    -   Noon: A lively panel on the strong connections and ultimate goals of
        positive Aboriginal business relations between individual companies,
        industry sectors and Aboriginal communities. Close to 200
        participants slated to attend. Media participation welcome.

    EVENING: More than 500 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal business and
    community leaders will be at this event. Cocktails at 5:30 and Dinner at
    7. Media must call ahead to attend evening events. 416 616 9940

    -   Photo opportunities (lots!) and interviews available
    -   Keynote by John Ralston Saul, Air Farce Comedian Craig Lauzon to
    -   Newest Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame Laureates, Scholarship
        Recipients to be fêted
    -   Eight Original 1984 Founders plan to attend

For further information:

For further information: CCAB Media contact: Claire M. Tallarico, (416)

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Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

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