16 Indigenous-owned companies helping build Canada
Architecture, earthmoving, prefabrication and more – these companies are on the front lines of Canadian construction.
Warrior Plumbing’s team works on a job site in Burnaby. – Warrior Plumbing
It is National Indigenous People’s Day in Canada, a time to reflect on the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of the nation’s Indigenous population.
While efforts in the construction sector are underway to engage with Indigenous People and their communities, they remain highly underrepresented in the industry.
In 2021, Indigenous People accounted for 5.1% of Canada’s construction labour force, which is a slight decline from the share of 5.2% observed in 2016, but is notably higher than the share of Indigenous workers represented in the overall labour force (4.1%). As the Indigenous population is the fastest growing in Canada and Indigenous workers seem predisposed to the pursuit of careers within the sector, there may be scope to further increase the recruitment of Indigenous People into the construction workforce.
Below is a list of Indigenous-owned companies in the industry that show some of the opportunities the sector offers.
Backwoods Energy Services
Alberta-based Backwoods Energy Services is 100% owned by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and provides construction services to the oil, gas, utility and forestry industries in Western Canada. The company works with industry to create partnerships and economic opportunities for the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation community. The company recently helped combat forest fires near Edson and Drayton Valley.
B.C.-based Infracon is a fully-integrated industrial services and construction group with over 40 years of experience in the western and northern Canadian markets. They won the B.C. Indigenous Business Award in 2016, 2017 and 2019 and stated that they are committed to long-term growth and sustainability with North America’s First Nations. Lower Nicola Site Services (LNSS) was formed in 2018 as a limited partnership between Infracon and the Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation (LNIBDC). LNIBDC owns 51 percent of the company.
It doesn’t get much more high tech than Saskatchewan’s Kihew Fabco. The wholly owned and operated Indigenous company uses robotics, laser scanning, CAD and automation at its advanced prefabrication facility to deliver custom industrial, commercial and agricultural building structures.
Swamp Cats is a 100% Aboriginally owned and operated company based in Lac La Biche, Alta. Started in 1996 by Vern McDonald, Swamp Cats specializes in environmental remediation, clearing, grubbing, heavy civil earthworks, oilfield construction, facility construction, underground utilities, decommissioning, demolition and more. The company noted that it is a strong believer that Aboriginal peoples have the moral right to develop an economy within their own culture and their communities, utilizing the inherent land and resources that is rightfully theirs. The company utilizes Aboriginal-owned businesses whenever possible.
Tahltan Nation Development Corporation
Located in B.C., Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC) is the business arm of the Tahltan Nation. TNDC pursues sustainable and responsible business and economic development opportunities in the region that lead to employment, training and business opportunities for Tahltan members. It provides heavy construction, earthworks, camp services, air support, aviation, energy, forestry, transportation and fibre optic communications services.
Founded in 2014, Smoke Architecture is Anishinaabeg owned and operated. The Hamilton, Ont.-based firm provides complete architectural with a focus on First Nation and Indigenous projects. The firm says that its clients, guided by Elders and community leaders, hold hundreds of years of expertise on how and what to build in traditional Indigenous territories. See more of their work here.
Shxw’ōwhámél Ventures was established in June 2015 as a labour workforce and in a few short years, has become one of the most diversified nation-owned construction companies in B.C. Its goal is to actively pursue and participate on major projects within and around its traditional territory in Hope, B.C.
Steel River Construction Group
Steel River Group is an Indigenous-owned diversified management and development entity based in Calgary, Alta. The company says its mission to partner with Indigenous Nations and Peoples to maximize employment, education, ownership and entrepreneurial experience. The company’s noted that its governing principles are deeply rooted in Indigenous values, beliefs and culture. Steel River’s operating approach is centered around the company’s inclusive “ecosystem model”, which brings Steel River owned companies, Indigenous Nations and strategic alliance partners together over a shared vision and set of values.
Almiq Contracting Ltd. is the eldest sister company of Quebec-based LFL Group. Its name comes from the names of the cities of Iqaluit, in Nunavut, and Alma, home communities of its partners. The company has a long history with architectural, mining, and industrial projects ranging in size from $30 million to $60 million. Quebec-based LFL Group is a family of general contractors specializing in projects of all sizes requiring high-level logistics. Some of the group’s recent work includes the construction of the naval facilities in Nanisivik, the hamlet office in Sanikiluak and a prefabrication plant in Arviat.
Founded in 1999, Points Athabasca is an Indigenous-owned civil, earthworks and industrial contracting company company known in the industry as an expert professional labour resource. The company says that building capacity is one of its key themes as they look for ways to go beyond job creation and make a positive long-term impact.
Kalmar Construction Ltd. is a registered Indigenous company and was incorporated in 1987, making Kalmar the longest operating, privately-owned construction company operating out of Fort St. John. It offes project management, general contracting services, design build services, and specialization in all aspects of concrete construction and building.
Cree-Con was founded in April 2012 by Dennis and Karma Hunter. It remains a family run, Indigenous-owned company in Edmonton that focuses on concrete placing and finishing. Their team has worked on Fox Tower, the Royal Alberta Museum and edmonton’s JW Marriot Tower.
Caribou Mountain Construction
Caribou Mountain Construction (CMC) is a division of The Little Red River Group of Companies LP (LRRG) based in High Level, Alta. Little Red River Group of Companies is 100% First Nation owned and has the goals of sustained growth and socio-economic freedom for the Little Red River Cree Nation. The company focuses on civil construction.
RAW Group, is a Certified First Nations Corporation operating out of Greater Sudbury Area with its headquarters located in Atikameksheng Anishinabek. The general contractor specializes in electrical work, pre-engineered buildings, HVAC maintenance, concrete, and civil works. RAW Group is a medium to large scope contractor competing primarily in the Industrial, commercial & Institutional sectors, with an operating range that spans Northern Ontario and beyond.
Double M Construction
Alberta-based Double M Construction Group is a 100% Indigenous owned company specializing in directional drilling services for Western Canada. Their focus is on directional drilling, hydrovac, excavating and pipeline trenching, project management, inspection and consulting services.
Makhos is an Indigenous owned and operated business providing specialized staffing, training, consulting and construction services, with headquarters in Neyaashiinigmiing, Ontario. Makhos provides guidance to companies looking to advance their progressive aboriginal relations (PAR) journey. Primarily serving the power and construction services sectors, its objective is to support meaningful employment and create sustainable partnerships within the industries that it supports. The company recently formed a joint venture with Aecon to provide an Indigenous-led solution for high voltage transmission, distribution and substation work, and related maintenance on utilities and nuclear projects in Ontario.
Warrior Plumbing is a 100% Indigenous owned and operated mechanical contracting company located in North Vancouver, B.C. providing residential developers, builders and Indigenous landowners with comprehensive plumbing, gas fitting and HVAC solutions since 2010. Warrior Plumbing says it is the only fully owned and operated Indigenous mechanical services company in the lower mainland with Indigenous values woven throughout each stage of the mechanical systems process.
Akwesasne Earth Movers Construction Company
Akwesasne Earth Movers Construction Company is situated on the Saint Regis Mohawk Territory which straddles the U.S and Canada Border on the St. Lawrence River. This creates a unique situation for cross- border opportunities. It is an Akwesasne family-owned and operated company providing commercial construction, residential construction, excavation services, water and sewer services and marine capabilities.