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Every Child Matters Event Brings Together Community & Industry in Fort McMurray

SMS Equipment hosted an Every Child Matters event in conjunction with Fort McMurray 468 First Nation and Suncor on September 13 to raise awareness of Truth and Reconciliation. Addressing a crowd of 80 community and industry guests and employees, the partners unveiled two Komatsu 980-5 mining trucks, featuring artwork by a local First Nations artist. The decorated trucks will join a Komatsu fleet in the field as an ongoing reminder for employees, partners, and guests.

“This event brings together partners committed to supporting the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo community,” said Kelly-Ann Cordner, Executive Vice President HR and Chief Human Resources Officer, SMS Equipment. “It is one small step to keep the important topic of Truth and Reconciliation top-of-mind as we continuously improve our awareness and contribute to the economic sustainability of the Indigenous communities where we operate.”

The gathering provided an opportunity for SMS Equipment employees, partners, and guests to learn about and share in the Indigenous culture. Guest drummers from Warrior Society of Onion Lake, Saskatchewan offered an honour song, Elder Robert Cree offered the blessing and his personal history to the residential school experience, and a traditional meal was prepared by Elder Karen Jensen. Dignitaries received a hand-made medallion, created by Elder Frieda, and all guests were given an orange shirt to honour those directly and indirectly affected by the legacy of residential schools.

The journey of Truth and Reconciliation

The journey of Truth and Reconciliation

Samantha Whalen, Councilor of the Fort McMurray 468 First Nation provided valuable context on the topic.

“Truth and Reconciliation means acknowledging the painful past, healing the wounds, restoring our cultural heritage, seeking justice, and building a more inclusive and equitable future for all Indigenous peoples,” Councilor Whalen said. “It is a transformative journey towards reconciliation, understanding, and empowerment.”

SMS Equipment’s Sundeep Bhangoo, Vice President, Finance and CFO elaborated on the importance of working together on the journey toward healing.

“Advancing Truth and Reconciliation is not a journey one takes alone,” he added. “Only together collaborating, sharing, and learning from each other can we reconcile the actions from not that long ago, support healing and rebuild Indigenous communities so they are economically thriving and sustaining."

The power of partnerships

Fort McMurray First Nation Group of Companies and SMS EquipmentLogoFor the past three years, SMS Equipment has held a strategic alliance with Fort McMurray 468 First Nation. The partnership has resulted in business, apprenticeship and employment opportunities, local charitable joint ventures, support to the Nation, and invaluable learning for SMS Equipment employees.

Throughout this time, Suncor has also been a significant partner to SMS Equipment, setting a powerful example of what it means to collaborate with and give back to the community.

“The learnings from our community partners have been invaluable,” said SMS Equipment’s General Manager, Fort McMurray Region, Larry Gouthro. “We are particularly grateful for the guidance and patience the Fort McMurray First Nation have extended to us as we embark on our Truth and Reconciliation journey as a company.”

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