“There’s no question that the offshore sector and the First Nations in Newfoundland and Labrador collaborating to find new opportunities to work together is beneficial for everyone.”

- Eric Christmas

Operators are engaging in new ways with Indigenous groups in Newfoundland and Labrador, through a series of safety and offshore engagement training sessions. The CAPP-sponsored sessions aim to educate about the oil and gas industry and safety culture, while looking at future opportunities to work together.

Eric Christmas is one of the organizers of the sessions, modelled on a successful series of safety culture seminars delivered to all 13 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq communities in 2018. Christmas is an Indigenous business consultant and a member of the board of directors of LearnSphere, an organization that provides training to help small and medium-sized companies be more competitive.

The initial session was held March 5-6 in St. John’s in conjunction with a larger LearnSphere Indigenous training event held that week. The March 5 session included 16 Indigenous participants who were then joined on March 6 by over 30 local oil and gas industry representatives. The sessions included an overview of the oil and gas industry and safety culture, information about supply chain readiness and presentations from Indigenous firms, suppliers and operators. There were also one-on-one meetings to allow all organizations to get to know each other better. Participants received a free Safety Culture 101 online course and a 12-month subscription to a Digital Safety Inspection App.

As a result of this initial event, many Indigenous organizations are now looking to come together as an Atlantic regional business association to help pursue future opportunities in oil and gas, and other industries. Christmas said they are encouraged by the progress to date.

“A great outcome for us would be to create a new way to communicate between the offshore sector and the First Nations in Newfoundland and Labrador, so that the offshore has a complete knowledge as to the capacities and services that First Nations companies can offer, but equally, the First Nations fully understand and appreciate what the offshore can offer.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed other sessions planned for Corner Brook, Conne River and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Once these sessions are completed, a final report will be tabled to include any recommendations on how the industry and Indigenous communities can work together for their mutual benefit.

Contributor bio

Eric Christmas, Board Director
LearnSphere

Eric is a business consultant and entrepreneur who has dedicated his career to the advancement of Indigenous communities, corporations and institutions through a variety of private/public sector engagements. He is also a member of the board of directors of LearnSphere, an organization that provides training to help small and medium-sized companies be more competitive.