I learned from my dad about sharing opportunities and lending a helping hand. That principle of generosity now sets the tone for my business and its interactions with customers. The oil and natural gas industry has provided opportunities for me and my family, which I’m proud to pay forward to my employees, community and beyond.
My dad is an electrician and had an entrepreneurial spirit from the start. He did wiring and other jobs for farmers and Indigenous families in the Carvel area where we live, about 35 kilometres west of Edmonton. Dad taught his kids that strong relationships are important to a business. You build your network based on trust. You also create your own opportunities, look for chances and grab them.
In 2014 my brother and I took over dad’s business and started growing, working for pipelines, oil and gas companies, even expanding to the oil sands. Today we have 17 employees; 80 percent of them are Indigenous. And we’ve received awards and recognition from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, the Métis Nations of Alberta and Alberta Business Awards of Distinction.
This business is as much about building relationships as installing wires. In my experience, successful people like to share and help others to be successful. Seeing others grow and thrive is a reward. Plus, business is about bringing value not only to your customers and employees but also to your family and community. I go back to what I learned from my parents: give someone an opportunity. It’s a step up for them and they can pay it forward.
That’s what I appreciate about working with customers in the oil and natural gas sector. The industry has given Indigenous people opportunities. For instance, Indigenous youth is the fastest-growing population segment in Canada. When the industry provides jobs for Indigenous people, that’s not only an economic opportunity, it’s also a social opportunity as young people see those role models.
The oil and natural gas industry is in our corner; they are doing things right. The voices of Indigenous people are now being heard; we are part of important discussions such as major resource developments.
I see nothing but opportunity from involvement with the energy sector. The industry seems to be vilified for emissions and water use, and I’m concerned that policies harmful to the industry will mean significant setbacks and losses for Indigenous people. I think there’s a strong environmental ethic across the industry, as well as a commitment to work with Indigenous businesses and communities. I think that’s a message Canadians need to understand.
The success of the oil and natural gas industry is the success of Indigenous people.
Jordan Jolicoeur is president and CEO of Carvel Electric, a thriving, award-winning Indigenous-owned business in Alberta.
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