We value our relationships with Indigenous groups and are committed to collaborating to create sustainable growth and development for First Nations people and communities in the region around the Brucejack Mine.
Portions of the Mine, access road, and transmission line lie within the traditional territories claimed by the Tahltan Nation and Tsetsaut Skii km Lax Ha, and in the Nass Area of the Nisga’a Nation as defined in the Nisga’a Final Agreement. Our Cooperation and Benefits Agreements with the Nisga’a Lisims Government, Tahltan Central Government, and Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs and our memorandum of understanding with the Tsetsaut Skii km Lax Ha support our relationships with these Indigenous groups.
While our formal agreements provide hiring objectives, we consider these objectives to be a minimum standard and aim to exceed these targets each year. Our Community Relations Manager addresses areas of opportunity and reports progress and recommendations to our Indigenous partners. Beyond the negotiated agreements, we engage with several additional Indigenous groups within the region, including the Carrier Sekani, Gitxsan, Haisla, Kitselas, and Wet’suwet’en, on many levels. We recognize the history of First Nations in the area and the legacy of resource development in past decades, and our Social Responsibility Policy defines our commitment to incorporating Indigenous knowledge, building capacity, and working cooperatively with local communities and Indigenous groups. Our hope is that our actions today support the Brucejack Mine’s legacy of long-term local and regional benefits.
In 2020, 30% of our direct workforce and 15% of our contractor workforce self-identified as Indigenous. We are proud to have strong partnerships and continuously work to recruit, support, and develop talent for long-term growth and success at Pretivm, and the communities surrounding the Mine. Our main objective is to maximize Indigenous employment at the Brucejack Mine, and we have implemented a number of mechanisms to support Indigenous workers through our recruitment process. We prioritize hiring qualified candidates from the Indigenous groups we have negotiated agreements with, followed by other candidates who identify as Indigenous.
We work closely with the Nisga'a Nation, Tahltan Nation, Gitanyow Nation, and other Indigenous groups throughout the region to share job postings, identify eligible individuals, and proactively mitigate potential barriers to employment. We also support our on-site contractors’ Indigenous hiring efforts, and gather monthly reports on their local and Indigenous staff numbers. More information about Indigenous representation in our workforce is provided in Our Workforce & Contractors.
Our efforts to engage with First Nations and local communities regarding employment opportunities continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As in-person meetings and participation in events such as career fairs were restricted, we pivoted to virtual communication through email, phone, or teleconference, and were able to safely continue our recruitment efforts.
Snow Removal Team Recruitment Program
The Brucejack Mine receives high volumes of snowfall every year, and safely removing snow from roads, roofs and other surfaces is critical to our winter operations. Snow removal activities at the Mine provide seasonal employment opportunities for local community members and Indigenous groups. These entry-level roles require limited pre-requisite skills such as physical fitness and the ability to work outside for an extended period of time. The seasonal nature of the Snow Removal Team contracts makes them appealing to applicants who wish to take part in cultural and land use activities in the summer and autumn. We support the professional development of workers expressing interest to transition into more permanent positions with the Mine, and to further develop skills and work experience.
Recruitment for the 2020-2021 Brucejack Snow Removal Team started in May 2020. The 2020 recruitment program benefitted from an increased level of involvement from team supervisors alongside the Community Relations team and human resource personnel, as all interviews were conducted by phone or videoconference due to COVID-19 restrictions. Meetings with the Nisga’a Nation, Tahltan Nation, and Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs served as a platform to share information about the snow removal program, discuss recruitment, and find solutions to specific challenges encountered in previous years.
In 2020, 97 candidates were hired for the Snow Removal Team, 60% of whom were Indigenous workers. We were able to rehire 50 staff from prior seasons which speaks to the success of the program, and interviewed 63 new candidates, 47 of which were hired. The Snow Removal Team continues to be an accessible gateway to employment with the Brucejack Mine. In 2020, 17 individuals transitioned from temporary positions into permanent roles across the Mine, and we are immensely proud of this program’s success.
Tahltan Skills Inventory Database
The Tahltan Skills Inventory Database, OnTrack, provides a tool for Pretivm to find and track potential talent within the Tahltan community. Our mill and maintenance teams share their skills and training information with the Tahltan Central Government, who manages the database. OnTrack enables us to improve workforce capacity and match job requirements with prospective employees’ skills, education, and experience. We are excited to have the capabilities to track both applicants and new hires through this innovative program in 2021.
Building Skills & Experience
Our approach to building skills and providing hands-on experience for our workforce aims to contribute to capacity-building efforts that are meaningful to all Indigenous groups. We continue to support a number of initiatives designed to maximize Indigenous employment and maintain engagement with communities.
Workplace Essential Skills Training
In 2020, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nisga’a Lisims Government to support a new Workplace Essential Skills Training. The program was developed in collaboration with ACCESS—Essential Skills for Aboriginal Futures, which defines a training curriculum for nine essential skills: reading, document use, numeracy, writing, oral communication, working with others, thinking, digital technology, and continuous learning.
Throughout the year, we worked closely with the Nisga’a Nation to develop and implement the program, providing job descriptions, policies, procedures, and safety information. The goal of the program is to provide basic skills to students that prepare them to apply for more in-depth training, such as apprenticeships, post-secondary programs, or specific courses (e.g., emergency management). For each specific course, students receive certificates from the Progressive Learning Academy. Six students participated in the first Workplace Essential Skills Training cohort and classes were conducted in-person and online. Our Community Relations team supported the training through conducting mock job interviews.
In parallel to this training initiative, we issued letters of support for other First Nations to access training programs and funding related to employment skills, infrastructure development, and heavy equipment operations.
Career Development at the Brucejack Mine
We measure the success of our Indigenous employment programs not only by the number of people we hire, but also by our ability to retain Indigenous workers and help develop rewarding careers at the Mine. We are proud of the number of individuals that have been hired into other roles following the snow removal program, including work as geological assistants during the summer, or permanent employment in other positions. In 2020, we promoted 13 Indigenous workers and supported 18 others to change positions.
As described in Training & Development, Indigenous workers benefited from a high proportion of the overall training hours at the Mine, including safety and training programs as well as job-specific and technical trainings. Skills gained on the job not only set workers up for success at Pretivm but are transferable to other employers and industries and support the development of rewarding careers. Considering the cumulative training hours in 2020, 57% of training hours (9,533 hours)—including 78% of technical training hours for mill and surface operations (8,451 hours) and 18% of safety training hours (1,082 hours)—were attributed to our Indigenous employees.