3 minute read 15 Jan. 2024
 Why Canadian energy organizations should be investing in meaningful Indigenous relations

Why Canadian energy organizations should be investing in meaningful Indigenous relations

By EY Canada

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

3 minute read 15 Jan. 2024

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As a result of engagements and conversations with clients, Indigenous relations leaders, and its internal Indigenous Professionals Council, EY Canada has compiled research on the importance and resulting benefits of building positive relations with Indigenous communities.

In brief
  • Investment in effective and meaningful relationships with Indigenous Peoples is critical for Canada’s energy and resources organizations as they re-evaluate their environmental and social impact.
  • Indigenous entrepreneurs are creating new businesses at nine times the Canadian average and organizations with strong Indigenous relations will have the opportunity to develop mutually beneficial relationships with these fast-growing businesses.
  • With cultural awareness and respect at its core, EY’s Indigenous Relations Framework outlines the need for continuous commitment, engagement and collaboration by organizations to foster and sustain meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities.

As businesses advance, organizations are recognizing the increasing need to develop positive relations and collaborate effectively with Indigenous communities. This is specifically important to Canada’s energy and resources sector given the abundance of natural resources available across the country and the growing importance of responsible development and mitigating environmental and social impacts. Recent developments have shown — and are highlighted in select case studies throughout this report — that this includes engagement in free, prior and informed consent and participation from impacted Indigenous Communities.

Through EY Canada’s engagements and conversations with clients, Indigenous relations leaders, and the internal Indigenous Professionals Council, this report compiles research on the importance and benefits of positive Indigenous relations to help organizations build a business case for investing in meaningful collaboration with Indigenous communities.

Effective Indigenous relations in energy and resources organizations have numerous benefits, which we discuss in detail throughout this report. These benefits include environment, social, governance (ESG) and diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) performance, increased investment (from public and private markets, grants, incentives and government agencies), a broader and more diverse labour force, building credibility and trust, and advancing reconciliation.

In addition, there are several costs and risks to not advancing Indigenous relations capabilities, including reputational damage, loss of credibility and social trust, project delays or cancellations and creating an exclusive culture.

Relationships and agreements between corporations and Indigenous groups in Canada have come a long way over the past few decades. However, many corporations don’t know how to work effectively, equitably and meaningfully with Indigenous groups.

A study that assessed the commitment of over 500 medium-sized and large companies across various sectors in Canada showed that 85% are categorized as “disengaged” as it relates to engaging with Indigenous communities and their awareness, readiness, strategies, consultations and partnerships.¹

Organizations interested in building out their Indigenous relations competency, should factor in the following considerations:

There is significant complexity involved in building Indigenous relations. Each Indigenous community in Canada is unique, and the relationships they have with different organizations will vary. There is no standard approach or a one-size-fits-all answer.

EY’s Indigenous Relations Framework offers a starting point and is intended to provoke thought around approaches to consider.

The framework is depicted in cyclical nature to show that meaningful Indigenous relations at any organization is not linear, but rather a continuous commitment that becomes embedded in an organization’s governance with cultural awareness and respect at its core. Continuous engagement is used as a constant feedback cycle with Indigenous communities for each of the sub-components.

  • Show references

    1Blackman, Jeff. Researching Indigenous Partnerships: 

    An Assessment of Corporate-Indigenous Relations. Ottawa : 

    R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd., 2017.

Learn more about the growing importance of investing in meaningful Indigenous relations.

Download the full report



Organizations expanding their understanding of the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and growing Indigenous relations capabilities are still in the very early phases. Continued advancement is expected to be led by the Canadian energy sector between project proponents and communities, whether through employment, financial participation, training and development, or supply chain inclusion.

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By EY Canada

Multidisciplinary professional services organization