In December 2012, Innergex and the Lil’wat Nation signed a Participation Agreement for the Upper Lillooet hydroelectric project under development in British Columbia. This agreement includes a revenue-sharing arrangement, procurement and employment opportunities, and ongoing environmental compliance monitoring. It also includes a provision for the Lil’wat Nation to ensure that the project’s design reflects its cultural values. “It will provide opportunities for employment, contracting and economic development in our Nation for the next generation” says Chief Lucinda Phillips of the Lil’wat Nation. “[Innergex has] invested a considerable amount of time in understanding and managing the environmental and archaeological impacts in our traditional territory. We look forward to working with them on this and other projects into the future.” A similar agreement with the Lil’wat Nation is expected to be signed for the company’s Boulder Creek hydroelectric project, also under development.
This is the latest of several successful partnerships Innergex has developed over the years, with such partners as the Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation in Ontario, the Kanaka Bar Indian Band and the Douglas First Nation in British Columbia, the Mi’gmaq Nation of Québec, and the Wolf Lake First Nation and the Eagle Village First Nation, also in Québec.
In fact, Innergex has a long history of building solid relations with local communities. By listening to them, by consciously choosing to create projects that reflect their aspirations, and by harmonizing the company’s own objectives with those of the communities, it has chosen to begin with people.
Julie Boudreau, Director – Public Affairs, who has first-hand experience in engaging with local communities and First Nations, explains: “We have always approached development by adapting to the unique circumstances of each community we make contact with. And we have also respected the natural sequence in which social acceptability occurs – first, of the individuals representing the company, then of the company itself, and finally of the company’s projects.”
Social acceptability remains the cornerstone of Innergex’s development strategy. It has proven an incredible lever of growth over the years, because time and time again it has enabled the company to build successful projects. Even more so, it has created projects that are better, because they are in keeping with a sustainable development perspective.
“We believe every community is unique – in its history, its culture, and its aspirations, and we always try to adapt to every community we make contact with. Relations between organizations are based on creating lasting bonds of trust between their people. Building these relationships is very rewarding for everyone involved.”
Richard Blanchet, Senior Vice President – Western Region
Whether in the form of shared economic benefits, employment opportunities, shared ownership, or partnership agreements, Innergex has recognized the growing willingness for communities to become agents of their own socio-economic development. A trend it expects will continue to grow right across Canada.