There are a total of four First Nations in the Kitimat/Terrace area, and twelve First Nations’ traditional territories in the watershed near our operations.
In 2010, we signed the Haisla Legacy Agreement, establishing a collaborative working arrangement with the Haisla Nation for the next 30 years. Current focus areas include procurement, environmental protocols and employment, including contracts and permitting related to the Kemano T2 Project. We work closely with the Haisla community to ensure these focus areas remain relevant, continuing to define how we work together including prioritising First Nation businesses for contracting and employment opportunities.
Since 2000, we have been collaborating with the Cheslatta Carrier Nation on initiatives ranging from land and forest management, to competitive contracting and reservoir stewardship projects. In 2017, with our support, the Cheslatta opened the Remote Industry Training Centre, to build a workforce to work on projects across a range of industries. In 2012, we returned 12,000 acres of land to the Cheslatta Nation which has led to a renewed protocol agreement.
The geographical size of the Nechako reservoir touches many First Nations including those who are not directly adjacent to it. Currently we also have protocol agreements with the Nee Tai Buhn and Skin Tyee communities.
We recognise and respect the significance of the cultural heritage of our host communities, and ensure cultural heritage management systems are incorporated into all of our business activities and operations. For example, both the Cheslatta Nation and Haisla Nation have shared cultural awareness training with our employees. These interactive sessions aim to strengthen the partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and to teach our employees about the people who lived on the territory before our operations existed. An example of this learning process is the use of blankets arranged on the floor to represent the land. As employees step across the blankets, they take on the roles of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people – and explore their history, language and stories of Canada's Indigenous people.
Finally, the Kitimat Public Advisory Committee (KPAC), which comprises more than 20 community organisations, including the District of Kitimat, Haisla Nation, Unifor 2301, Kitimat Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Environment, serves as a source of community information on our operations, and conversely, ensures that community voices are heard and considered in BC Works decision making.
Rio Tinto Aluminium Canada Fund
The Rio Tinto Aluminium Canada Fund was set up in 2008 to support the communities where we operate. We have contributed over C$10 million annually through First Nations initiatives, as well as health, education, youth, and environment programmes. Since 2011, as partners with the Breakfast Club of Canada, we have contributed nearly C$1 million to support breakfast programmes for schools in Kitimat and Nechako watershed regions. There are now 14 breakfast programmes feeding almost 1,000 students every school morning in our operating communities in the region.
The community investment programme aims to support our operating communities by helping to meet their current needs while safeguarding their legacy for future generations. You can apply online for support for community initiatives that meet our guidelines.
In 2019, we spent C$589 million in British Columbia towards contracts and services, and contributed over C$843 million to the provincial economy. We have worked with the local community, Haisla and Cheslatta Nations to ensure their members and affiliated businesses benefit from project opportunities such as the building of a second tunnel at Kemano. During the modernisation of the Kitimat smelter, at peak construction, we employed over 1,200 local residents from Kitimat, Kitamaat Village and Terrace.
Community feedback process
We believe that by listening to our communities and considering their feedback, our operations and relationships can be improved. Whether it is a concern you have, or important feedback or suggestions for us, we encourage you to share it with us by contacting one of our local offices or emailing us.
Any feedback requiring action will be investigated internally to determine the appropriate resolution. We are also committed to maintaining open channels of communication, and will ensure that all those that provide feedback receive a response as to how it has been considered.
We will respond to feedback within 48 hours of receipt.