5 Questions with Ranjith Narayanasamy on Working with Aboriginal Businesses

November 21, 2016

5Q with Ranjith
As part of our commitment to working closely with Aboriginal communities, we're trying to increase our work with Aboriginal suppliers. In support of this goal, we held the 2nd annual Aboriginal Procurement Information Session in Regina on October 25, 2016. We talked with Senior Aboriginal Procurement Advisor Ranjith Narayanasamy to find out how it went and why these efforts are so important.
  1. What was the event all about?

    This info session provided valuable information and networking opportunities for the Aboriginal supplier community. It was also a good chance for various groups involved to connect and form relationships.

    The event drew over 100 people including representatives from a number of First Nations and Métis communities across the province, and a number of Aboriginal businesses and entrepreneurs who work with SaskPower or would like to in the future.

  2. Why did we host this event?

    Our Aboriginal Procurement Policy aims to increase Aboriginal participation in our supply chain the first of its kind in the Crown sector. The policy aims to ensure that Aboriginal businesses and workers are a part of the day-to-day work at SaskPower and that we are meeting our annual Aboriginal procurement targets on an ongoing basis.

    People from First Nation and Métis communities all over the province have helped build and maintain the plants that produce power and the lines that deliver electricity to our homes. They are inspecting and maintaining power poles, controlling forest overgrowth around power lines and building ice roads. Often, they are doing necessary work in the remote parts of our province places that can be blisteringly cold, full of thick forest and dangerous wildlife. Having participation from these groups is great for both us and them, as much of this work takes place in their home regions and they can work in the community where they live.

  3. How has this event, and our Aboriginal Procurement Policy, made a difference?

    Supplier sessions are a big part of our outreach activities that take place throughout the year. They lead to follow-up face-to-face meetings and relationships with key operational staff, project managers and suppliers which lead to procurement opportunities for these groups.

    So far in 2016, Aboriginal procurement accounts for 8.6 per cent of our Saskatchewan procurement spend, which amounts to $41.7 million.

  4. How else does SaskPower support Aboriginal business and communities in Saskatchewan?

    At any time, we have multiple projects on the go with Aboriginal businesses and communities all over Saskatchewan. The biggest benefit is the jobs that come with the contracts. The companies are able to offer good paying jobs plus training and skill development that gives their employees the potential to grow their careers.

    Take, for example, our work at the Island Falls Hydroelectric Station near the community of Sandy Bay on the Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan. The station is undergoing some structural improvements to extend its life. We included the local community before the process began, using our Aboriginal procurement process. This summer, between 40-60 per cent of workers were from Sandy Bay, and extra materials from the project were used to improve public facilities in the community.

    Another recent example is the B1S project aimed at trimming/removing trees on a power line between Fond Du Lac and Uranium City a total of 190 structures stretching over 58kms in tough terrain, accessible by helicopter only. Over the course of the project, over 100 workers from several northern communities will be employed. Most of the money spent will stay in the North: wages went directly to Northerners, all fuel purchases go to a local vendor in Stony Rapids, our subcontracted helicopter company is La Ronge based and we purchased the required cutting equipment in the North.

  5. How can I learn more?

    We have a dedicated team that works with Aboriginal suppliers. You can reach them at aboriginalprocurement@saskpower.com.

    Our procurement department hosts supplier information sessions for all suppliers throughout the year, including the event mentioned earlier. These sessions are a great way to learn how to do business with SaskPower and make valuable contacts.

    The Aboriginal Procurement Policy and vendor registration forms are available here on our website.

 

Quotables:

"Our Aboriginal Procurement Policy aims to increase Aboriginal participation in our supply chain“ the first of its kind in the Crown sector."

"People from First Nation and Métis communities all over the province have helped build and maintain the plants that produce power and the lines that deliver electricity to our homes. They are inspecting and maintaining power poles, controlling forest overgrowth around power lines and building ice roads."

"Having participation from these groups is great for both us and them, as much of this work takes place in their home regions and they can work in the community where they live."

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