The City of Edmonton has a new plan to provide more economic opportunities for Indigenous people in communities surrounding the city.
“We really want to understand the perspectives of the Indigenous community and where they are feeling the greatest barriers,” said Roxanne Kits, branch manager for Corporate Procurement & Supply Services.
Edmonton and its surrounding area is home to the second-largest urban Indigenous population in the country.
Establishing a strong relationship with Indigenous communities is a top priority for the city. But to get there, the city is establishing an Indigenous Procurement Advisory Committee.
The group will meet throughout the year to better understand the needs of Indigenous workers and the barriers Indigenous businesses are facing.
“We’ll be developing an Indigenous procurement policy and an Indigenous framework that will be helpful for us in how we structure our procurement opportunities going forward,” Kits said.
Kits said the policy would set aside a number of city contracted opportunities for Indigenous businesses and encourage suppliers bidding on projects to hire a certain number of Indigenous workers.
This is exciting news for the Enoch Cree Nation Chief Operations Officer Ron Minks.
“It is difficult for First Nations and Metis and Indigenous communities to work with some of the other communities just because of a number is different issues and those are things we need to work on to overcome and improve as a society,” Minks said.
Minks said this initiative will provide employment options while addressing a more serious issue.
“We just want to overcome the perceptions and systemic racism, the problems that we’ve endured for a long time,” Minks said.
The city says its goal is to remove barriers while providing a wide range of opportunity for Indigenous people.
The city is recruiting for the Indigenous Procurement Advisory Committee. Interested applicants can find more information online.