May 19, 2020

Which businesses engage best with aboriginal Canadians?

corporate social responsibility
First Nations
anna smith
3 min
Which businesses engage best with aboriginal Canadians?

After disputes with an aboriginal community, Petroliam Nasional Bhd has moved closer to securing a deal for its proposed $11 billion liquefied natural gas export plant in Canada.

The Lax Kw’alaams Band has displayed openness to the project amid talk that the plant’s location may be altered. The community oppose the current site in British Columbia, but are optimistic that it will be moved, according to Mayor John Helin. His community members recommended talks on compensation for any impact on their native lands.

According to poll results released last Thursday, approximately two-thirds of 812 Lax Kw’alaams Band members endorsed continued talks about the project along British Columbia’s northwest coast.

Helin stated, “most of the First Nations communities in Canada are living in third-world conditions and in a country as prosperous as Canada, that shouldn’t happen.”

Clearly, it is important for businesses to consult, support and collaborate with First Nations communities when operating on/near their traditional lands. Businesses have several examples to follow when working with aboriginal communities.

Black Diamond Group

Black Diamond Group rent and sell modular workforce accommodation and space rental solutions to Canada, US and Australia customers. Black Diamond is “structured around an approach to Aboriginal engagement that is proactive and long-term.” It partners with Aboriginal communities across Western Canada. For its partnerships, Black Diamond has been recognized with multiple Aboriginal Business Awards, e.g. the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business (ICAB) – Corporate Champion for Aboriginal Business in 2013.


Yamaha has an eclectic product range, varying from motorcycles to saxophones, so perhaps it’s no surprise that they teamed up with an aboriginal community to produce ‘gee-man’ boats. The Cree of Waskaganish partnered with the conglomerate to make these boats based on a Cree design. The boats were better at navigating the James Bay waters than any other boat on the market. Both parties enjoyed a healthy profit.


The world’s largest uranium company has been working with aboriginal peoples in Saskatchewan for 25 years. “We rely on the participation and support of aboriginal communities for access to the land and mineral resources that are essential to our business in this region,” Cameco state on its website. Cameco has community-based agreements with aboriginal communities, such as the Impact Management Agreement with the Dene communities of the Athabasca Basin, signed in 1999. They also have a “five-pillar corporate responsibility strategy”, made to sustain relationships with nearby aboriginal communities. This consists of workforce development, business development, community engagement, community investment and environmental stewardship.

Alterra Power Corp

The renewable power generation company partnered with Klahoose First Nation during the Jimmie Creek construction project, a renewable power facility constructed on the Toba Valley. Vice President Jay Sutton commented, “We work closely with them during the construction, they were awarded to a number of contracts for the constructions of the projects and also a significant amount of their workforce was working on the project.”   

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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