Opportunities in Mining Procurement
Mining companies can’t do everything themselves. Whether they are just beginning to explore an area or have been in production for years, mining companies rely on the products and services of many other businesses. Pauktuutit wants to know what this means for Inuit businesswomen and women interested in starting a business. What are the opportunities for Inuit women to do business with the mining industry? To answer this question, Pauktuutit created a project to find out where mining projects are in Inuit Nunangat, who the mining companies are and what they need to buy from other businesses. All the answers we found are on this website.
Whether you want to know what mining projects are near your community or hear about the experiences of women who have done business with mining companies, this website is for you! You may want to know about potential business opportunities at different stages of a mine or whether a mining company might be interested in your business.
On this website you will find a map of current mining projects, information on the needs of mining companies at different stages and some examples and lessons learned from women who have done business with mining companies. We hope you find it very helpful!
Northern Mining Locations Map
Mackenzie Gas Project
South Voisey's Bay
Two Time Zone
What does it mean to be a woman and Inuk and be interested in business? Inuit women have strengths both as women and as Inuit that can be applied to the business sector. Local businesses operated by women can prepare to take advantage of the economic opportunities coming to the North. In the next few decades, Inuit Nunangat expects to see considerable growth in mining, shipping, tourism and in the businesses that will grow to support these industries. To take advantage of these opportunities, entrepreneurs are starting now to develop ideas and gain the skills and expertise to participate in this growth.
No matter how hard the work is, you know at the end of the day that you were successful, you did your best, and that your efforts helped make your community and your family better off.
For many Inuit women, the thought of starting a business that can provide a valued service or product and that generates enough income for their families to live on, is an exciting, and maybe slightly scary, challenge. Are you an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is someone who has an idea and is able to develop it into a successful business. They are people who take some risks in developing this new idea, but then enjoy the rewards when the business succeeds. Entrepreneurs are seen as creative, sometimes visionary (they see opportunities that others don’t) and leaders in their field.
Inuit Cultural Strengths for Business
Indigenous peoples have always been entrepreneurs, developing extensive trade routes throughout North America to exchange specialized tools, furs, preserved food, medicines, clothing and decorative art. Inuit traded with other Northern Indigenous groups such as the Dene, Cree and Athabaskans. For the last several hundred years, they have acted as guides to European explorers, supplied food and tools that ensured European survival and provided interpretation and liaison services for whalers, missionaries, the RCMP and, eventually, Canadian governments and businesses.
The commonly identified character or personality traits of an entrepreneur are not so different from the cultural traits that have enabled Inuit to thrive in the Arctic environment.
|ENTREPRENEURIAL TRAIT||INUIT CULTURAL/TRADITIONAL STRENGTHS|
|Self-starter||Women and men worked hard for their families; preparing for each season, taking advantage of all harvesting opportunities and moving camp when necessary.|
|Problem solver||Women and men, families and camp members worked together to make decisions, solve social problems and deal with climate challenges and changes.|
|Not afraid to make tough decisions||Inuit made decisions about justice in the community, enforced rules and rationed food when needed.|
|Comfortable with risk||Living off the land in the Arctic is about understanding the risks and managing them!|
|Aware of their own strengths and weaknesses||Inuit relied on each other’s strengths and were realistic about their abilities in hunting parties, travel on the land and in nurturing children’s natural abilities to contribute to the family.|
|Passionate about the business idea||Inuit have a love of the land and its bounty and worked hard to make a prosperous life for their families based on what was available to them.|
Inuit Women’s Strengths in Business
We believe that the core strengths of Inuit women, including determination, intelligence and hard work, translate quite nicely into the world of business.
Some of the characteristics that are useful in business are being able to make a long-term commitment, dedicating the time needed to do well, being patient and working with others to promote harmony, all of which are skills that women develop in taking care of their families. In fact, the Guide for Inuit Women Interested in Building Their Own Business notes that having a business is a lot like having a baby and watching it grow. Managing multiple priorities and demands on your time, having a long-term plan but being able to adjust to changes quickly, budgeting and keeping track of expenses and planning activities and meals are all skills that help to make both a family and a business run well.
Women are good at relationships… and business is all about relationships.
Rhoda Cunningham – Communications Services Grounded in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit
Rhoda Cunningham, originally from Pond Inlet and now living in Iqaluit, Nunavut, is President and Owner of Innirvik Support Services Ltd. (www.innirviksupportservices.ca). Rhoda has been a business owner since 1995 and formed and incorporated her present company in 2003 by merging three translation and interpretation businesses. The 100% Inuit-owned company offers a variety of communications services, including meeting interpretation, document translation, technical equipment rental/sales, meeting room rentals and printing and binding services. Innirvik Support Services has contracts with the Government of Nunavut, universities, researchers and the private sector, including more recently, translating mining company presentations, reports and correspondence with local officials.
Rhoda says that her accomplishments are inspired by her parents who encouraged her to be independent and work diligently for her community. Her translating and interpreting skills emerged from helping her parents volunteer. This business owner finds that business today is more competitive than ever and that she is often underbid by other companies and loses contracts, even though they haven’t raised their rates in years. It takes lots of energy to continue to find new contracts and respond to requests for proposals.
Writing concise and clear proposals is a skill in itself that she has developed over the years. However, if you do a good job for a customer, you might get repeat business that you don’t have to bid on. She cautions about underestimating costs and notices that companies new to the North don’t always budget properly for translation and interpretation.
When asked about possible biases against Inuit women in the mining industry, Rhoda recalls hearing of other women’s experiences of harassment as mining employees, but she personally has had only positive experiences with mining officials. She does believe that mining companies should invest in communities for economic growth and could address some of the obstacles that small Northern businesses face.
This experienced business owner has given considerable thought to what it means to be Inuk and a businesswoman. In 2013, Rhoda completed her Master’s of Education degree through distance education at the University of Prince Edward Island and her final research paper was entitled Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Practices in Entrepreneurship. The paper explores how Inuit businesswomen have used traditional knowledge in their business practice, and in doing so, are creating a new business culture.
Inuit women entrepreneurs in Iqaluit, Nunavut have made strides towards equalizing power structures through socioeconomic development, as they fostered traditional knowledge in their corporate practice. This balance has created an emerging, new business culture, as they connected between the self-determination one requires to become a successful entrepreneur and that which contributes to a more balanced approach between two cultures, Inuit and Western.
Rhoda believes that Inuit women can apply the teachings of the elders to their dreams for their businesses. She chose “innirvik” as the name of her business because it is the Inuktitut word for the drying frame for skins. She envisioned a business that, like the pins on the drying rack, would support other workplaces and freelancers, giving back economically to the community and supporting Inuit to be “whoever they can be.”
Here is some of the advice she has for others just starting out:
- stay firm, follow that dream and forget about the little obstacles;
- some of the people you know will be non-believers. You need to focus on the positive. If something negative happens, don’t fight back, remember you are serving the bigger picture;
- be able to explain your services simply and directly;
- develop writing skills; and
- stay in balance.
If you would like to read Rhoda’s research paper, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Practices in Entrepreneurship, it is available at: www.islandscholar.ca/download_ds/ir%3A10605/OBJ/ir_10605.pdf
Some Challenges and Solutions for Inuit Women
Getting a business going is not always easy and being aware of some of the challenges and their solutions can help you succeed.
|Having many family responsibilities and being a caregiver to extended family||
|Lacking confidence and being shy||
|“I don’t know where to start!”|
Talking to other Inuit women in business is a great way to problem-solve and get feedback on ideas. Connect with others face-to-face, on the phone or through Facebook and e-mail.
For More Information
AnânauKatiget Tumingit Regional Inuit Women’s Association (Nunatsiavut)
Inuit Women in Business Network
Fly with the Wind! Engaging Inuit Youth in the Canadian Economy
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council
Saturviit Inuit Women’s Association of Nunavik
Status of Women Council of NWT
Women and Mining Canada
With branches in Yukon, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.
Information, Tools and Resources
Fact Sheet: Business Check-list, Inuit Women in Business Network.
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Practices in Entrepreneurship, by Rhoda Cunningham, final research paper for Master’s of Education, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE, 2013.
The Inuit Way: A Guide to Inuit Culture, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 2006.
Inuit Women in Business Toolkit, including a guidebook, eight factsheets on handling money and banking for a business, a poster checklist for starting a business and a CD loaded with all the information for easy sharing. Available in English, Inuktitut or Inoenaktun. Ordering information: http://pauktuutit.ca/guidebook/contact or 1-800-667-0749.
Your Check-list (from Seven Steps to Help You Start Your Business – A Popular Guide to Starting a Business in Nunavut, Government of Nunavut.
Inuit Businesswomen and the Resource Extraction Industry
The expansion of resource extraction activities in the North has been presented as an opportunity for local economic development through both employment and entrepreneurship, as the industry supports local businesses through procurement services and their related spinoffs. However, little research has been undertaken to examine how Inuit entrepreneurs and Inuit-owned businesses are accessing procurement contracts to benefit from resource extraction activities. In particular, there is limited awareness as to how Inuit women may or may not be accessing contracting opportunities within the industry and the barriers to their further engagement. This report is intended to provide a summary analysis of the current role Inuit women-owned businesses are playing in the resource extraction industry across Inuit Nunangat, as well as the opportunities and challenges for their participation in the future.
The information provided in this report was gained through a review of documents, Internet sites and communication with informants across Inuit Nunangat. The informants were contacted either by email or telephone and selected based on their familiarity with businesses and mining activities operating in their respective jurisdictions. As no oil and gas extraction is currently under way within Inuit Nunangat, the focus of the research was on mining activity and in particular, active mining operations within the Inuit regions.
The informants were from a range of organizations and included:
- Economic Development Officers (EDOs) in a number of communities closest to operating mine sites;
- Inuit organizations that have some responsibility relating to mining operations, Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreements (IIBAs) or business development in their respective regions;
- Government agencies responsible for business development;
- Regional Chambers of Commerce; and
- Mining companies with operations in Inuit Nunangat.
While contact with most of the informants was achieved quite easily, gaining information from mining companies proved to be more challenging due to a lack of response from some companies despite numerous emails and telephone calls.
The research provided a wide range of findings which are summarized as follows.
Few Inuit women-owned businesses are currently delivering products or services to mining companies. One company in the Kivalliq was repairing clothing for a mining company, but the company was a subsidiary of a larger development corporation and was not in fact owned by the women doing the work. Another company was providing advanced pipelines and related products to a large infrastructure project. Interestingly, in Nunatsiavut, there were a much higher number of businesses operated by Inuit women involved in the delivery of products and services to mining operations. A total of five different businesses were identified by the Nunatsiavut Government’s Business Development Manager, although three of these businesses were owned by the same woman.
In general, Inuit women are not well aware of the opportunities that may exist in the mining sector. This likely reflects the fact that there are only a small number of Inuit women that have established their own businesses and are looking to expand those businesses. Businesses owned by Inuit women are typically small, often involving only a few employees and providing arts and crafts, catering, translation/interpretation, cleaning and clothing making services – fairly straightforward businesses that rely heavily on the skills, experience and business savvy of the owner/operator. These Inuit businesswomen are very limited in their awareness of how to find out about and access the opportunities that may exist through the resource extraction industry and its related activities.
Under the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreements, there are many Inuit-owned businesses currently providing products and services to mining companies. A number of these are companies established by regional Inuit Development Corporations (IDCs) and are active across a wide range of activities, including environmental management, logistical support, site remediation, etc. There are also a growing number of private Inuit-owned businesses across the region helping to supply the active mining sector. These businesses, however, aren’t generally owned by Inuit women and therefore fall outside the specific area of interest of this report.
Overall, mining companies do not appear to actively advertise in local communities for the procurement of products and services. No informants that were contacted were aware of any community postings or advertisements from mining companies looking for businesses to respond to tenders. The EDOs are the first point of contact in communities for both people looking for employment and businesses seeking opportunities. The Chambers of Commerce contacted also noted that mining companies weren’t in the habit of advertising their needs to small local businesses. Mining companies usually put out tenders to a list of approved companies with whom they have worked before and have a preference for working with larger, experienced, well-resourced companies that have proven track records and capacities. While this is logical from a business perspective, it limits local awareness about possible opportunities, particularly in the smaller Inuit communities.
An issue facing many Inuit businesses in general is that the most common opportunities arising from mining operations are very large, complex and sophisticated, requiring a level of capacity, resources and experience that effectively excludes many smaller, independently owned businesses from participating. For Inuit women-owned businesses, the problem becomes more problematic as they often tend to lack the capital, experience and capacity to meet the basic requirements of these larger tenders. The problem for Inuit businesswomen is exacerbated as the support and resources available to them in their communities are often limited, even if they wish to get assistance to bid on a tender.
Furthermore, mining companies often hire people full-time to provide the services that could be sub-contracted out to local businesses, i.e. full-time security personnel, cleaning staff, etc. From a purely business perspective, it is often more practical to hire a security person, kitchen staff or cleaner than to go through a tendering process to recruit a small business to provide those services. However, it may be these services which small, Inuit women-owned businesses could be qualified to provide.
Mining companies at the exploration stage generally don’t require a lot of services and products from local communities. One community reported that an exploration company’s activities had virtually no impact on the economy of the community. Better communication and coordination between communities and mining companies may result in higher quality services and products being provided to the companies, while also leaving a stronger economic impact at the community level.
Through Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreements (IIBAs), mining companies operating in Inuit Nunangat are obliged to consider hiring Inuit businesses to provide some of the products and services that are needed. The requirements of these IIBAs generally specify a number of steps to be taken to advertise the needed products or services and the minimum requirements for the companies bidding on the tender. To support local economic development, the IIBAs also often ensure that the mining companies offer some preferential treatment for Inuit-owned companies in the bidding process. This may include providing a 15% price advantage for bids from Inuit-owned businesses, allowing them to better compete with southern companies.
Mining companies also generally hire graduates from the various training and education programs across Inuit Nunangat to provide services to the site. For example, TMAX Mining in the Kitikmeot region hired students out of the Nunavut Arctic College’s Culinary Arts program to staff its mining activities.
Some mining companies have been pro-active in engaging with communities and trying to encourage small local businesses to participate more in the tendering process. For example, Glencore conducted a two-day workshop in Nunavik where supporting local businesses was part of the agenda. Specifically, discussions were held on topics such as how to encourage smaller businesses to bid on contracts and the need for better communication of the opportunities available. Agnico Eagle and Baffinland, the two most active mining companies in Nunavut, have worked with community and regional agencies to develop community-based programs to help offset some of the effects of the mining activity on communities – spousal support programs, establishing Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) in the communities, etc. As well, both companies work extensively with numerous Inuit-owned businesses in their respective regions. The efforts in these areas are commendable and should be encouraged, but there must be more work done to extend these practices, in particular increasing the access of smaller businesses to the benefits of resource extraction activities.
1. Identification of potential opportunities
As Pauktuutit’s Inuit Women in Business Network has clearly indicated, Inuit women are interested in starting and operating businesses in their communities. Many of these businesses are at the micro-level and focus on a skill and interest that the potential business owner has. There are opportunities that may exist for small, Inuit women-owned businesses within the mining sector, although opportunities will vary widely depending on many factors, including size of the mining operation, location, logistics of getting to and from the site and the stage of development of the mining operation. Some potential business opportunities include:
- Language support services, such as translation of documents into local dialects, interpreting for community consultations, etc.;
- Intercultural training for mining staff;
- Catering for special events, including a possible emphasis on local country food and traditional dishes;
- Clothing repair, for example, damaged clothing from mines sites could be brought to communities on commuting flights and an Inuit businesswoman could repair the clothing and ship back when complete;
- Arts/crafts and clothing sales on site. Small arts and crafts displays could be set up at mining site locations, such as airstrips, or on a weekly basis to allow southern workers the opportunity to purchase gifts;
- Supply of country food;
- Logistical support; and
- Tourism and recreation programs for southern mining staff.
2. Efforts should be made to engage the mining sector across Inuit Nunangat
Efforts should be extended to the mining sector to identify more clearly realistic opportunities for Inuit businesswomen to participate in meeting the needs of the industry. An ideal opportunity to support this initiative would be to capitalize on events such as the Nunavut Mining Symposium. The event brings together stakeholders from the mining sector in Iqaluit for several days of information sharing and networking. Coordinating a workshop with interested mining companies and agencies that support Inuit businesswomen would provide a unique opportunity to discuss the issue and potentially develop an action plan. Topics could include how businesses could work more closely with communities to advertise their needs, which opportunities are most suited for Inuit women-owned businesses and establishing connections between the mining companies and Inuit businesswomen.
The Nunatsiavut Government is in the process of working with mining companies to explore means by which larger contracts could be broken down into smaller segments that could more easily be bid on by Inuit-owned companies. Following up on how this process works and its accomplishments would be a useful exercise and may provide best practices.
3. Support for Inuit women-owned businesses
Competing for tenders from mining companies will not be easy for most Inuit businesswomen. Challenges include the fact that the language of the documents can be difficult, the supporting documents required can be demanding and the process of completing the tender proposal can be daunting. Inuit businesswomen must be able to have confidence that there will be adequate support available to them when they require it for completing the tender proposals.
To encourage more Inuit women to consider starting a business, resources and workshops should be made widely available to provide information on how to establish a business and, specifically, how to complete a business plan. As well, connections with business opportunities should be established, supported and monitored by local business support agencies and economic development officers to maximize the opportunity for success. One element of the workshops and resources should focus on the potential for Inuit women-owned businesses to form partnerships with active suppliers and companies that service existing mining operations. This would enable Inuit businesswoman to gain access to the partner company’s experience and capacity and thus gain important knowledge and skills.
4. Case studies and best practices
It would be useful to research successful cases of small businesses accessing opportunities in the mining sector, not just in Inuit Nunangat but other regions, as well. Identifying best practices could contribute greatly to the understanding of how to enable Inuit businesswomen and potential businesswomen to identify, access and profit from the mining sector across Inuit Nunangat.
The needs of each major project are unique. The products and services they require depend on the type of project, what stage of development it is at, how long the project is expected to last, how big the company is and many other factors. This list provides some examples of common needs where mining companies contract other businesses.
Labour contracts: individuals or smaller companies
- Language support services – translators and interpreters for company documents and community consultations
- Intercultural training for mine staff
- Secretarial, clerical, word processing, accounting, bookkeeping and payroll services
- Report writing, audio-visual services and presentations for community consultations
- Locally-produced corporate gifts, promotional items, artwork and graphic design
- Business travellers needing accommodation, meals, business support services, recreation and entertainment
- Tourism opportunities such as cultural events, on-the-land guided trips, hunting, fishing and vacation packages to other communities
- Warehouse operations
- Heavy equipment operators
- Drillers and blasters
- Light equipment technicians
- Heavy equipment technicians
Contracting procedure will depend on the value of services to be provided.
- Laundry services
- Clothing repair
- Rebuild services
- Accommodation services
- Tire repair
- Fire suppression systems
- Radio equipment
Companies will usually ask for quotes for these contracts from interested and qualified service providers.
Large Contracts: direct services at the mine site
- Food delivery
- Janitorial services
- Logistics coordination
- Supply services and management
- Equipment rental and maintenance
- Vehicle rental and maintenance
- Mine operation services
- Transportation services
- Engineering services
- Environmental and climate monitoring
- Hazardous waste management
- Construction work
- Electrical and piping work
- Steel and concrete work
- Road construction and maintenance
- Construction management
- Camp operations
- Sea freight shipping
- Security services
- Port construction and operation
- Ongoing remediation
For these services, companies will often follow a competitive tendering (contracting) process. This usually includes a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI), prequalification, Request for Proposal (RFP) and tender evaluation before awarding the contract. These contracts will be advertised publicly and require proposals from bidders.
Inuit women are eager to participate in and benefit from economic development in the North, including any opportunities related to supplying the mining sector with goods and services. This brief report outlines some of the strengths and challenges that Inuit businesswomen face and the ways that economic and business development officers, mining companies, Inuit organizations, and federal, provincial and territorial governments can support them.
Inuit Cultural Traits and Values that Support Entrepreneurialism
Inuit businesswomen bring many strengths to business, derived from their culture and gender. Inuit women are used to working hard for their families and communities. Inuit culture has a long history of producing “self starters” – women and men who have adapted to changing circumstances and found ways to survive and thrive in a challenging environment. Inuit culture values problem solving, determination and risk taking within a “safe” framework. For example, nobody goes out on the land without assessing the conditions, weather and the health and capabilities of the hunting or harvesting group. Inuit have relied on each other’s strengths and have worked together to provide for their families and communities. Inuit bring the same cultural strengths to current business practices that they have for many generations of living off the Arctic land, trading with other cultures and supporting and ensuring the survival of European newcomers.
An Inuk businesswoman, Rhoda Cunningham, has identified Inuit principles that apply to business and entrepreneurship, including respecting others and forming relationships, being open, welcoming and inclusive, serving and providing for family and community, working together for a common cause and being innovative and resourceful.
Strengths and Challenges Facing Inuit Businesswomen
Inuit women also bring strengths and a unique perspective to business, based on their role in Inuit society and their generations-long experience in caring for their families in the Arctic environment. For example, Inuit women bring relationship-building and team-oriented skills, commitment to doing well, patience, flexibility, adaptability and the ability to manage multiple priorities and demands to business endeavors.
Women are good at relationships… and business is all about relationships.
However, Inuit women business owners face some unique challenges that businesses and governments can help with. Inuit women can face discrimination both as Inuit and as women, especially if they are participating in non-traditional sectors like mining. Women often have additional responsibilities within the immediate and extended family compared to men. They also may lack some of the skills needed for business start-ups, while they excel in others.
Other challenges facing Inuit businesswomen, identified by Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, include housing policies that prohibit the operation of small businesses, the high costs of starting and operating businesses in the North, equity requirements for loans, small markets in remote communities, competition for qualified employees, lack of flexible daycare, language barriers and gaps in literacy skills and a lack of access to peer support and business mentors.
Inuit Economic Development and Business Development Officers
Economic development officers (EDOs) may be the first point of contact for Inuit women exploring mining-related and other business opportunities. Through community and regional economic development centres, EDOs provide support to Inuit through all stages of a business, from research and pre-start-up to start-up and expansion. They offer business training, guidance and advice to plan, establish, manage and expand a business, as well as provide financial support through grants and loans.
Similarly, business development centres support the creation and growth of small businesses by providing loans and business advice. Their services are available for start-ups and existing businesses and include business counselling, technical support and help with strategic planning and management (see http://pauktuutit.ca/iwbn/support/who-can-help for more information).
Some ways that these centres can better serve Inuit women are:
- Learn more about barriers Inuit women face in developing a business and supplying mining companies and other economic sectors;
- Work with Inuit women to apply a gender lens to programs and services to ensure that women’s business development needs are being actively addressed and that barriers to women are reduced;
- Be able to connect Inuit businesswomen and entrepreneurs with each other and with organizations and individuals that can provide information and encouragement;
- Keep up-to-date on business development funds and financing options for micro-businesses and small start-ups (most Inuit women’s businesses will be small enterprises, at least at the beginning); and
- Create opportunities for representatives from mining companies to meet face-to-face or virtually with Inuit women business owners.
Community Relations Divisions – Mining Companies
Early, intentional engagement between mining companies, Inuit organizations and communities is considered essential to productive relationships and agreements for mining exploration, development and operation. Community relations divisions and staff also can play an important ongoing role in supporting sustainable community development and maximizing the benefits of mining operations for local communities and regions. The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business advocates for voluntary corporate community investments of money, time, expertise or other in-kind supports to Aboriginal organizations and communities, including support for community economic development. It also notes that in northern and remote communities in particular, community investment initiatives must reflect a broad understanding of the impacts of development, both positive and negative. Companies may support business start-ups, help establish networks and business associations and participate in mentorship programs. All of these initiatives would be helpful to Inuit women entrepreneurs, especially if programs are targeted to their needs.
Other concrete ways that community relations divisions can support Inuit businesswomen include:
- Providing information to Inuit women’s and community organizations on the stages of mining development and the need for goods and services at each stage;
- Acting as “brokers” to make introductions and facilitate relationships between Inuit businesswomen and mining company decision-makers;
- Sharing information and knowledge about the company’s supplier needs, supplier arrangements and procurement methods; and
- Initiating partnerships with Inuit organizations to increase the capacity among northern businesses to fill supply contracts and bid on tenders.
Two guides that might provide additional advice are: Aboriginal Engagement Guidebook: A Practical and Principled Approach for Mineral Explorers and Working Together: It Can Be Done, a Check-list to Assist Mineral Companies Active in Areas Near Aboriginal Communities (see For More Information below).
Procurement Divisions – Mining Companies
Corporations can take proactive measures to ensure Inuit women’s businesses have access to procurement and supplier opportunities. Supplier diversity is the strategic business process where corporations reach out to groups not traditionally included in their supply chains, including women-owned businesses that want to compete for contracts. It means implementing processes to identify, assess and match under-represented suppliers to procurement opportunities and then measuring achievements. According to the Newfoundland & Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs, diverse supply chains drive value and innovation by increasing the number of suppliers in the marketplace and thereby driving down costs. 
Corporations can create a competitive edge by sourcing a dynamic network of growth-oriented women business owners, many with products and services that can fill unexploited needs in the oil and gas industry.
The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, through its Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification program, suggests these best practices in procurement:
- Implementing preferred procurement practices, such as set-asides and restricted tendering specific to Aboriginal businesses;
- Creating an Aboriginal supplier database to identify businesses offering required goods and services and placing them on vendor distribution and advance notification lists;
- Promoting publicly tendered requests for proposals (RFPs) and openness to relationship building at tradeshows, on the web and through other media;
- Requiring mainstream suppliers to establish business-to-business (B2B) relationships with Aboriginal businesses as a part of the supply chain; and
- Having a specialized Aboriginal Procurement Coordinator to assist Aboriginal contractors/suppliers in understanding the company’s work processes and structures and assisting them to explore new business opportunities.
The Mutual Benefits of Mining Company–Aboriginal Business Partnerships
IBAs [Impact and Benefit Agreements] provide opportunities for mining companies to source goods and services from the local community, giving its entrepreneurs the chance to create or expand their businesses. By sourcing goods and services through the community, the mining companies are helping to build up local capacity and potentially create sustainable businesses that can continue to exist once the mine is closed. As a result, funds flow back into the community and contribute to its ongoing development. Joint ventures between companies and local businesses can be mutually beneficial, as companies save on the cost of importing materials or goods, and directly contribute to the growth and prosperity of the region.
Regional Inuit Organizations
Regional Inuit organizations can support Inuit businesswomen in a number of ways, in addition to their role in overseeing economic development and operating business development centres. Inuit organizations need to explore and understand the specific needs and aspirations of Inuit businesswomen and entrepreneurs in northern economic development and include these perspectives in the agreements that will guide Inuit relations and benefit sharing with mining companies throughout the mining cycle. This role begins before the negotiation of specific Letters of Intent (LOIs), Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), Impact and Benefits Agreements (IBAs) and Participation Agreements with mining companies operating in the region. The agreements themselves will guide future economic development and business opportunities, social, cultural and community support programs and other community capacity development initiatives that have a direct impact on Inuit women.
Other suggestions for activities and initiatives include:
- Ensuring that women business owners and leaders are included on planning committees and working groups and that their perspectives are demonstrated in regional economic development plans;
- Widely sharing information on mining development and economic opportunities, using a variety of media and methods to reach a broad audience;
- Encouraging high schools and colleges to develop business-oriented curricula and courses that are inclusive of and relevant to girls;
- Promoting business ownership as a career option for Inuit girls and young women;
- Proactively promoting existing women-owned businesses and supporting their participation in trade fairs and mining industry events; and
- Allocating specific funds for development and support of Inuit women’s businesses.
Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments
Governments have put in place a number of means to support economic development in Northern communities, as well as to encourage growth in Aboriginal-run businesses. More could be done, however, to address the specific needs of Inuit women business owners and entrepreneurs.
The National Aboriginal Economic Development Board recommends that governments should support First Nations, Inuit and Métis economic participation in the resource economy by:
- Connecting Aboriginal communities to industry;
- Strengthening the framework for collaboration between Aboriginal organizations and the private sector;
- Developing human capital through education and training programs (including business development and management skills); and
- Promoting information sharing and awareness.
These broad measures would help to increase the participation of Inuit women’s businesses in the Northern economy, especially if they are implemented using a gender-specific lens. For example, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador requires proponents of large natural resource projects to develop Gender Equity and Diversity Plans (GEDP) as a condition of release from environmental assessment processes. Starting with the signing of the Hebron Project’s GEDP in 2011, business access strategies are now required in all GEDPs. Subcontractors to these projects may also be required to comply with these conditions.
Other measures that governments should continue to offer and/or further develop include:
- Addressing the needs of Northern micro-businesses (more likely to be operated by Inuit women), in addition to small and medium-sized enterprises;
- Making information on northern economic opportunities, mining development, mining company-Inuit agreements and grants and loans for businesses more easily accessible and understandable;
- Demystifying mining supplier, supply chain and procurement processes;
- Improving access (preferably through “human” contact in addition to web-based) to business development and support services geared specifically to small Northern and women-led businesses;
- Supporting Inuit women’s entrepreneurial networks, peer mentorship programs and opportunities to meet and share knowledge;
- Encouraging and providing incentives for financial institutions to support Inuit women entrepreneurs and business start-ups; and
- Promoting success stories and best practices in mining industry engagement with Inuit women’s businesses.
Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association
Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
Canadian Northern Development Agency
Northern and Aboriginal Policy, Conference Board of Canada
Women in Mining Canada
Women’s Business Enterprises
Aboriginal Engagement Guidebook: A Practical and Principled Approach for Mineral Explorers, Association of Mineral Exploration British Columbia, no date.
Building Relationships, Sharing Knowledge: Best Practices in the Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program (PAR), Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, no date.
Increasing Aboriginal Participation in Major Resource Projects, National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, 2012.
The Future of Mining in Canada’s North, Conference Board of Canada, 2013.
Good Practice Guide: Indigenous Peoples and Mining (guidance document 2010-3), International Council on Mining & Metals, 2010.
Working Together: It Can Be Done, a Check-list to Assist Mineral Companies Active in Areas Near Aboriginal Communities, by the Sub-Committee of the Inter-Governmental Working Group, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, no date.
 Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Practices in Entrepreneurship, Rhoda Cunningham, University of Prince Edward Island, 2013, www.islandscholar.ca/download_ds/ir%3A10605/OBJ/ir_10605.pdf
 Building an Inuit Women in Business Network: Needs Assessment Report, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, 2011.
 Building Relationships, Sharing Knowledge: Best Practices in the Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program (PAR), Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, no date – www.ccab.com/uploads/File/par_best_practices_final.pdf
 Building Relationships, Sharing Knowledge: Best Practices in the Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program (PAR), Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, no date – www.ccab.com/uploads/File/par_best_practices_final.pdf
 Increasing Aboriginal Participation in Major Resource Projects, National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, 2012, www.naedb-cndea.com/reports/increasing-aboriginal-participation-in-major-resource-projects.pdf