"Many of the communities I deal with face unique challenges. Some of them are isolated and therefore more considerate of costs. The communities rely on our local staff to understand issues relating to their bills, their smart meters and upcoming maintenance projects,” said Marc Clement, distribution superintendent.
For more than 20 years, Clement has visited and met with leaders from First Nations and Métis communities in northeastern Ontario. While he has developed positive relationships with these communities, Clement still feels he and his team can learn more about how to better work with First Nations and Métis communities.
With that in mind, Clement decided to sign up with his staff for Hydro One’s First Nations and Métis Relations workshop conducted by the First Nations and Métis Relations department. Clement’s group was the first to take part in the half-day workshop late last year.
“The workshop provides a high level overview of the historic, social and political realities of First Nations and Métis peoples in Ontario. The workshop, which can be delivered in either a half-day or full-day format is also a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship between our group and other lines of business,” said Ian Jacobsen, Senior Manager, First Nations and Métis Relations.“Participants will gain a broad understanding of historic and current factors that influence our relationship with those communities in Ontario, while exploring effective working and relationship-building practices.”
Clement said he found the workshop incredibly helpful. “There is always more to learn. I wasn’t aware of the difference between reserve lands and traditional territories. The workshop helped to answer this and other questions,” he said. “The workshop also put many of the issues that come up with communities into perspective. The increased knowledge we now have gives us more credibility when we meet with a community.”
As Hydro One continues to maintain and expand its transmission and distribution system, it is important that we continue to improve our relationships with First Nations and Métis communities.
Recently Clement brought Marc Lapierre, Customer Operations Manager, to Nipissing First Nation for their annual meeting to introduce him to the community. “Every year, I visit our large customers, municipalities and First Nations to check in and see how things are going. In his new role as Customer Operations Manager for the area, Lapierre will be taking over and I wanted to introduce him to the Nipissing First Nation community,” said Clement. “The annual meetings set the tone of the relationship between Hydro One and the community.”
There is a positive and long-standing relationship between the Nipissing First Nation and Hydro One. As many different issues come up in the community, including conservation, procurement and real estate issues, each line of business that works with the community must communicate effectively to ensure its customers are satisfied with their services from Hydro One.
Clement and Lapierre were able to conduct a more productive meeting with the community by putting into practice what they learned in the workshop. An open dialogue was initiated, and both Hydro One and the community are now aware of important issues, including the connection of a new FIT project, a new industrial connection and an upcoming maintenance venture.
The First Nation and Métis workshop is available to all Hydro One employees with the approval of their manager. It is designed to assist employees in interacting with First Nations and Métis communities.