We hear it all the time—disruption is all around us. And, while it’s true that technological advancements are rapidly changing the way we live and work, sometimes we forget that innovation is about so much more than machine learning, block chain and "AI."
Innovation driven by Indigenous Nations and groups in North America is equally important and transformative. Indigenous communities—empowered by constitutional rights, favorable legal decisions and modernizing regulatory processes—are transforming the way business is done in North America. At Enbridge, we believe this transformation is a very positive development.
Historically, Enbridge—like other companies with linear infrastructure projects— has negotiated project-specific, limited-term capacity agreements with Indigenous Nations near where we do business. Today, we have come to more fully appreciate the value that building longer-term relationships can create for both the communities involved and our business.
My point is that this is not an entirely altruistic view. While Enbridge believes that building sustainable relationships with Indigenous Nations connects directly to each of our core values—Integrity, Safety and Respect—we also believe that it is integral to our business case. With infrastructure for delivering oil, natural gas and power that spans North America, Enbridge engages regularly with over 200 Indigenous Nations and groups in Canada and 30 federally recognized Native American Tribes in the United States. We are convinced that our continued success as North America’s premier energy infrastructure company depends on our ability to build and maintain relationships with communities near our projects and operations. Put simply, if you are in our business, success will not come to companies that do not go beyond cursory compliance with government regulation when it comes to engagement with Indigenous communities. Rather, it will come to companies that are guided by a set of strong internal values and systems that can help them navigate a rapidly changing landscape.
This Discussion Paper represents Enbridge’s voluntary response to a shareholder resolution brought forward at our 2017 Annual General Meeting. At that meeting, Enbridge committed publicly to expand reporting on the steps we are taking to: (1) implement our Indigenous Peoples Policy, and (2) integrate Indigenous rights sensitivities into our investment review processes through early identification across our different types of investments.
We welcome the opportunity to improve our reporting on these important points. As I stated at the outset, Indigenous relations are evolving in North America. This is a very positive development—one we are pleased to participate in. This report provides Enbridge with an opportunity to demonstrate transparency in our approach to matters affecting Indigenous Peoples living and working near our operations. And it also provides us with an opportunity to reach out to understand how we can do better.
With that, I hope you find this report a useful contribution to the discussion on the role that companies can play in the transformation now underway on Indigenous relations in North America. I encourage you to provide us with your feedback. With your help we will continue to strengthen our performance in this critically important area.
Vice President Responsible for Indigenous Relations