In a dazzling showcase at the 24th Annual Brownie Awards (Brownie Awards 2023 – Brownie Awards) in Toronto on Friday, November 24th, 2023, Keynote speaker Eric Pringle, CEO and Managing Partner of Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc, took attendees on an inspiring journey, illuminating the boundless potential of Indigenous partnerships in environmental remediation. Eric explored the challenges faced, the triumphs celebrated, and the incredible potential harnessed through collaborative efforts between industry players and Indigenous communities.
The Foundation of Truth and Reconciliation
Eric Pringle set the stage by acknowledging the complexity of Truth and Reconciliation. He emphasized the importance of building awareness and understanding of past tragedies, creating a space for growth and healing. “Truth and Reconciliation is a multifaceted journey,” he remarked. “It involves building awareness of past tragedies and understanding today’s generational impacts. ‘Reconciliation’ is about establishing, building, and strengthening respectful relationships.”
For the Milestone team, these principles aren’t just ideals; they form the foundation of our Truth and Reconciliation journey, making collaboration with Indigenous partners an integral part of our mission.
The guiding principles that have been the compass for Milestone’s journey in Indigenous relations:
Respect and Recognition: Acknowledging and understanding Indigenous needs, rights, and titles on the lands where they operate.
Community Investment: Investing in individuals and communities, fostering social and economic benefits beyond project boundaries.
Lasting Relationships: Building relationships through trust, respect, open dialogue, and a shared long-term vision.
Indigenous Partnerships: Exploring and pursuing opportunities for Indigenous inclusion and capacity building, extending beyond project scopes to encompass training, employment, subcontracting, procurement, and creative entrepreneurial initiatives.
Economic and Environmental Reconciliation in Action.
Eric shared stories that exemplified the impact of early engagement, respect, and recognition in overcoming challenges with Milestone’s projects:
- The enduring partnership with Kwikwetlem Nation, driving significant community investment. (link: Multi-Phase Project on the West Coast of BC – Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc.)
- The partnership with Decontie Milestone showcases shared learning in projects like the Zibi brownfield site in Ottawa. (link: Zibi Soil Remediation and Construction – Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc.)
- The rewarding collaboration with DJRM on the Giant Mine remediation project in Yellowknife. (link: Canadian Mining Journal article highlights DJRM First Nations Construction Corporation partnership – Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc.)
- The prioritization of Indigenous benefits in the Esquimalt Harbour remediation project. (Esquimalt Harbour Marine Remediation – Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc.)
- The ongoing partnership with the Mississaugas of the Credit business group on the Randle Reef project in Hamilton Harbour. (Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc. Awarded Stage 3 Contract for Randle Reef Remediation Project – Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc.)
Collaboration for Indigenous Benefit
Eric shared a profound message he encountered at the First Nations Major Projects Coalition, “Nothing for about Us, Without Us.” He reflected on it, “I would want that extended to me, my family, our business, our communities.”
Eric highlighted how creating Indigenous partnerships benefits communities and showcased impressive results on the business side. Milestone has achieved total revenue exceeding $100M, profits of $10M for Indigenous partners, and significant employment and training hours. The potential for economic reconciliation opens doors to exciting possibilities beyond environmental remediation.
Building Indigenous Partnerships: A Call to Action with Positivity
As Eric wrapped up, he presented the audience with practical suggestions for building Indigenous partnerships. He emphasized the need to integrate these partnerships into organizations’ core values. He stressed the importance of collaborative decision-making, cultural awareness, engagement with the broader community, and protocol respect.
The night concluded with attendees expressing gratitude to Eric and the Indigenous partners present at the Brownie Awards, who were there to support Milestone. The resounding message was clear: partnerships that foster sustained economic opportunity, capacity building, and cultural enrichment not only make challenging tasks more accessible but also more rewarding.
At the core of our work, Milestone encourages everyone to embrace Indigenous partnerships for meaningful change and a better world, one site at a time. The journey continues, filled with optimism, collaboration, and the promise of transformation.