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Associate Member Profile | A&B Rail Services Ltd

A&B Rail Services Ltd. is a railway solutions company that goes the extra mile when it comes to Indigenous participation and partnership.

The nature of its business means A&B works in Canada’s largest urban environments and in many remote and Northern communities.

A&B’s vice-president of business development, JP Bradette, says productive relationships with Indigenous communities have always been part of the company’s modus operandi. But a year and a half ago, the company decided to take its commitment to the next level.

A&B Rail embarked on a journey with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) to become certified under the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) Program.

“We always prided ourselves on our progressive, diverse hiring practices,” says Bradette. “PAR is providing us the framework to build on our strengths, formalize some policies and practices, and go even further.”

Bradette says A&B is applying PAR’s four critical drivers to virtually every element of its operations as it moves from “PAR Committed” to full certification.

The PAR drivers are:

  • Leadership actions
  • Employment
  • Business development
  • Community relationships

“This is much more than checking off a box. It has to be a consistent, day-to-day commitment, that goes from top-down to all levels,” says Bradette.

A&B has also in recent years joined the CCAB’s Aboriginal Procurement Champions (APC) Initiative to connect Indigenous-owned and operated businesses into A&B’s procurement chain.

“We’re a service provider that does a lot of contracting and purchasing around our projects,” explains Bradette. “The APC is a win-win from our perspective. We get access to high-quality providers, and they get access to us.”

Describing it as “the right thing to do,” Bradette recommends that all companies explore if these economic reconciliation programs are right for them.

Says Bradette: “We have had a very positive experience. This is a process. But the CCAB has been extremely helpful as we walk before we run.”

Bradette says A&B’s journey is but one step of many on the reconciliation journey that needs to be taken. But steps make miles. And A&B Rail is committed to going the distance.