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Empowering Indigenous Voices

Indigenous Business Opportunities in Canada’s Nuclear Sector

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Emily Whetung-MacInnes

Chief Emerita of Curve Lake First Nation and Senior Indigenous Advisor, OCNI

Terri-Lynn Woods

Manager of Indigenous Engagement and Special Projects, OCNI

Nuclear innovation in New Brunswick is providing opportunity for Indigenous communities.

There’s an advanced reactor development program happening now in New Brunswick supporting two innovative advanced small modular reactors (SMRs). Implementation of this program will lead to significant technological innovations in the field of advanced small modular reactors. The success of this New Brunswick endeavour is positioned to blaze a trail for the rest of Canada — and the world — in the integration of SMR technology into a diverse and sustainable energy supply for the future. Beyond the considerable technological and environmental potential of this program, it also represents a profound economic opportunity for New Brunswick communities from equity to business development, particularly smaller and Indigenous-owned enterprises.

Embracing relationship building

“The type of supply chain opportunities available extends far beyond technical roles,” says Terri-Lynn Woods, Manager of Indigenous Engagement and Special Projects at the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI). “In addition to engineering and manufacturing, there are prospects in areas like construction, consulting, transportation, food and beverage, and human resources. This presents a remarkable opportunity for First Nations owned organizations in New Brunswick to actively participate in economic reconciliation and inclusion. It enables First Nations and Indigenous peoples to engage in the industry in a way that is meaningful to them”.

“Indigenous communities in New Brunswick have expressed a desire to participate, and not only in the supply chain,” says Emily Whetung-MacInnes, Chief Emerita of Curve Lake First Nation and OCNI’s Senior Indigenous Advisor. “They want to be owners of reactors and to actively play a part in the economy of SMRs. They want to get in on the ground floor at a First Nation level and they want to make room in the supply chain at an entrepreneurial level for community members.”

Meaningful opportunities for Indigenous communities

Central to the idea of economic reconciliation is that the jobs and wealth created by implementing programs like the advanced reactor development program grow and empower Indigenous businesses and support leadership growth and Indigenous decision making. OCNI’s Ready4SMR program — in direct alignment with its Ready4Reconciliation program — is designed to bring businesses in on the ground floor and support them through the certification process to become qualified providers in the supply chain of this heavily regulated industry. Certification with ISO or CSA can be the first step to Indigenous businesses participating, benefiting, and shaping the course of future development, unlocking the doors to even the most ambitious of goals.

Indigenous communities in New Brunswick have an opportunity to lead the way in SMR innovation and to showcase a gold standard of Indigenous engagement and economic reconciliation for the rest of the nation. “It’s encouraging to see that OCNI member organizations like Moltex, ARC Clean Technology, and utility partner NB Power have taken proactive steps to involve First Nations in conversations from the start of SMR development, showing their commitment to inclusivity and collaboration” says Woods.

As we hear from Jim Ward, General Manager, North Shore Mik’maq Tribal Council, “We have a sustainable and equitable future to build, and the foundation of that future is a robust low-carbon power supply and a strong Indigenous economy. We can lay that foundation over time with building and sustaining trusting relationships.”

Visit to learn more about the Ready4SMR program.

Interested businesses seeking information on SMR and nuclear supply chain opportunities in New Brunswick and across Canada can complete this form for further information.

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