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Paramedic team shows Indigenous partnerships in action

Joint venture with Canadian Industrial Paramedics provides immediate value to community

As soon as Heart Lake Industrial Paramedics (HIP) was founded in 2007, the Heart Lake First Nation knew it had created a winning business.

“People from our community were getting paramedic training and employment, and we were able to expand our services to work with some of the best industrial projects in the region,” says Tony Bagga, consultation director of Heart Lake First Nation. “The joint venture was immediately valuable to our community.”

Heart Lake First Nation (HLFN) undertook the partnership with industrial paramedic service Canadian Industrial Paramedics. The Nation owns 51% of the company, so it is a true Indigenous-owned business. This also means HLFN owns half the assets in HIP, such as ambulances, mobile treatment centres, rescue vehicles, etc.

Since its inception, HIP has provided reliable, superior-quality paramedic services including support on everything from small projects to fully equipped medical clinics, as well as a full range of safety, fire, rescue teams and training services six projects across North Eastern Alberta and Western Saskatchewan, the traditional territory for HLFN.

Today, HIP employs more than400 people, some of them members of Heart Lake, and is providing paramedic services in Northeast Alberta for CNRL – Kirby Lake North and South; AOC Conklin; CNOOC Long Lake; and Conoco Phillips Surmont.

Taking a cue from the success of HIP, Heart Lake First Nation has continued to branch out and create many other band-owned corporations and a total of 18 current partnerships. Some band-owned businesses include construction, facility maintenance, onsite machining, road building, paramedic services, engineering, and 3D scanning and modeling. And the list is growing.

Growing number of partnerships

The impact these partnerships have had on the Heart Lake community — 346 members, with 212 living on reserve — has been tremendous. Part of the revenue from all of the nation’s projects goes directly toward the community, supporting education, new buildings, programs, retention of culture, and more.

A recreational facility is now under development in the community, designed to host cultural events and provide programs for youth and community health and wellness.

The Nation’s long-term goal is to grow its capacity to become self-sustaining, says Bagga. Throughout their history and long tradition of living off the land, the Heart Lake community has deeply valued environmental stewardship.

Alberta’s Indigenous communities have a huge role to play in today’s energy industry.

– Tony Bagga, Heart Lake First Nation

HIP, for one, works with local educational institutions and Indigenous educators to provide education, training, and employment opportunities to the local communities where industrial projects are located.

“Alberta’s Indigenous communities have a huge role to play in today’s energy industry,” says Bagga. “Indigenous-corporate partnerships bring so many benefits to both sides.”

Partnership benefits

Heart Lake First Nation territory is located approximately 280 kilometers northeast of Edmonton, close to several key oil and gas industrial sites. It’s a key position for the community, and for partner companies that work with them.

Partner companies benefit from quality service at competitive prices, years of expertise, diverse business capabilities, environmental stewardship, and critical community buy-in.

Thanks to these benefits, many industrial companies are now following suit, fostering partnerships with Indigenous communities. The shifting economic landscape is making Alberta’s oil and gas industry evermore aware and inclusive.

Heart Lake First Nation is a success story in Indigenous joint ventures with the oil and gas industry, says Bagga.

“Our joint ventures meet and exceed their goals while providing a tremendous boost for our community and the local areas they serve,” he says.

The Heart Lake First Nation always welcomes businesses to get in touch to discuss partnership possibilities. Please contact Tony Bagga at the Consultation Office at 780-246-7314 or tbagga@hlfn.net.