Our Social Responsibility Policy guides our approach to managing community relations as well as upholding our commitments to health and safety, local socio-economic benefits, and Indigenous involvement. Our Community Relations team is based in our regional office located in Smithers, BC. This team leads our day-to-day activities on the ground, driven by our commitment to supporting local economic benefits through employment, training, business opportunities, and community investment. Our senior leadership, including our CEO and Vice President of Environment and Regulatory Affairs, are actively engaged with our communities and Indigenous groups, and champion this commitment across all levels of the company.
Commitment to Our Local Communities
We believe that—when done right—mining can be a win-win for all involved, and we work hard to make this a reality. We choose to invest in people and communities, developing a strong and successful workforce by supporting the individuals, families, and communities that surround our operations. We are creating steady, long-term employment opportunities so that everyone can thrive and succeed. Our Community Relations team participates in high school job fairs throughout the year to work with youth and promote career opportunities in the mining industry. In 2020, many of these events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but there was ongoing engagement with the communities and Indigenous groups to hold virtual meetings and presentations instead.
Another aspect of our local engagement is to help local businesses access contracts and partnerships. These initiatives contribute to the economic prosperity of the smaller communities that surround our property in Northwest BC and the direct economic stimulus of our employment and procurement supports indirect benefits such as spin-off employment in local communities. Direct and indirect economic impacts are discussed more in Socio-Economic Impacts & Benefits.
Responding to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has amplified the importance of our strong relationships with local communities, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty. Our ability to maintain operations at the Brucejack Mine is a testament to the trust, support, and communication of our community and Indigenous partners. We recognized that many communities had concerns about disease transmission at the site and, by extension, to their communities due to the high percentage of local employees. We were able to navigate the initial months of uncertainty through increased and transparent communication and collaboration with our local partners and agree on protocols and practices that would keep everyone safe and secure. We openly shared information on the implementation of social distancing, hygiene, emergency measures, and other mechanisms for COVID-19 prevention with our Indigenous partners, local communities, vendors, and contractors. Our response was guided by public health directives and Pretivm’s established risk management practices.
In addition to pandemic-related support in the form of local donations and contributions (discussed further below), Pretivm also engaged with Indigenous groups and other stakeholders about community responses to COVID-19 cases in the region. Caseloads in the region required coordinated efforts between the communities, our corporate office, and the Mine in order to ensure that our operations would not contribute to the spread of the virus. Our efforts were successful, as no COVID-19 cases were declared among Pretivm workers at the Mine in 2020. Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to be a challenge in 2021, and we are actively managing and monitoring its impact on our people and communities.
Opportunities for Recruitment, Training & Economic Development
We believe collaborative relationships can open the doors to many opportunities, and we actively work closely with and learn from Indigenous groups and other partners. We host an annual collaborative session bringing together employment and training representatives from multiple Indigenous groups, regional economic development organizations, and staff from various departments within Pretivm. Although the 2020 annual session had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, we maintained our relationships and communication channels throughout the year.
Pretivm works with schools throughout Northwest BC to engage with students and educate new graduates on career opportunities in the mining industry. Only one high school engagement was conducted in 2020; the other events were cancelled due to the pandemic. Similarly, our Community Relations Manager typically attends career fairs and hosts information sessions about careers in mining in communities throughout Northwest BC. Career fairs attended in the first quarter of 2020 showed successful turnout and positive feedback for Pretivm’s involvement. The participation of local site-based staff who could speak to their direct experience working for Pretivm was particularly well received.
In 2020, Pretivm connected virtually with local organizations and Indigenous communities to maximize local employment and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We held monthly discussions or review meetings with the Tahltan Nation, Nisga’a Nation, and Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs. Topics discussed during these meetings ranged from Indigenous employee recruitment, COVID-19 emergency response, community events, and specific sponsorships to socio-economic projects within their communities, including training and apprenticeship programs that extend benefits beyond the direct influence of the Mine.
More information about how we work with communities is provided in Socio-Economic Impacts & Benefits and Economic Development, and initiatives specific to Indigenous groups are discussed in Indigenous Involvement.
Our Corporate Donation Policy guides our community investment strategy, outlining how requests for donation or sponsorship are evaluated. We prioritize investments that have a local focus and contribute to ongoing and sustainable community building. Further information about our Corporate Donations Policy is provided in Corporate Governance & Business Ethics.
Throughout 2020, our investments in local communities addressed topics such as community services, health and safety, Indigenous culture, education and career development, and sports and recreation (including sponsorship of adult and youth sports teams and tournaments at the beginning of the year). From April 2020, the focus of our donations shifted to addressing the rapidly changing needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to keep communities and families safe, and provide sufficient food and supplies, we committed monthly funds for 19 community groups and food banks.
Even though 2020 was an unusual year, we were proud to see that our contributions have made a noticeable impact in their respective communities. Some of the year’s highlights include:
- Stewart Community Development: Pretivm is working with the Stewart Community Connections Society to create opportunities through a variety of community development initiatives.
- Fundraising for the Terrace Hospital: The health and safety of our communities is of utmost importance to Pretivm. The Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace is the medical centre for the region, benefiting communities throughout Northwest BC including many of our employees and their families. Pretivm was happy to contribute to the Festival of Trees annual fundraiser to enable the purchase of an ultrasound machine for the hospital’s imaging department.
- Canadian Mineral Industry Education Foundation: The Canadian Mineral Industry Education Foundation supports around 170 students at universities across Canada. Pretivm and other mining companies support the Foundation and hope to attract university students to careers in the mining industry.
- Smithers Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre: The Smithers Chamber of Commerce commissioned a group of local student and Indigenous artists to redesign and paint the mural on the Smithers Visitor Centre in the context of a building improvement project. Pretivm decided to support this art project as it makes a positive contribution to the community through the beautification of this central building and by bringing people together to enjoy art and culture and support local businesses. The mural was designed to depict a “snapshot” of life in the Bulkley Valley and features symbols of Smithers business community, culture, and the general pulse of the area.
- Gitanyow First Responder Training: To better respond to emergencies, the Gitanyow community organized a First Responder Training in October 2020, for the volunteer fire department and interested community members to broaden the network of emergency responders. Pretivm and the Gitanyow believe that training and emergency preparedness are particularly important, especially for these remote communities. Pretivm was pleased to be able to provide funding to support the 40-hour training course.
In 2020, we contributed over $402,306 in donations, sponsorships, and other investments with communities and Indigenous groups. We are honoured to continue to support and engage with our local communities.
A Personal Connection to the Communities
Born and raised in Kitimat, our Community Relations Manager Aldea Lavallie has a strong personal connection to Northwest BC and has spent most of her life living and working in the region. Aldea, who is Metis, began her career in the mining industry over 16 years ago as a dedicated Human Resources and Community Relations professional. During her time at Barrick Gold, she was the Social Development Coordinator, a role that was a first in the industry. She supported employee wellbeing, on the physical, mental and professional level, connecting employees to their communities and the communities to site. Mining also runs in her family history: her great grandmother ‘Ma’ St. Pierre was one of the first women on the Klondike trail in the Yukon in the early 20th century where she owned and operated a mine with her husband.
When Aldea first started, there were not a lot of women working in the industry, but she has noted that there have been many positive changes since. “A supportive management is key”, she says, “and I have been very fortunate to work with many great people over the years.” And her hard work has not gone unnoticed. In 2012, she won the Yukon Chamber of Mines Community Award for her ‘Groundwork for Employment’ workshop with Yukon Zinc.
Her role as Pretivm’s Community Relations Manager allows Aldea to travel across the region and meet with community members around the Mine to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships. “The people have always been the best part of my job and if you open yourself up to the diversity of cultures, you will gain many memorable experiences that last a lifetime”, she says. Especially being invited to cultural celebrations such as the Nisga’a Hobiyee are what makes her work so uniquely rewarding.