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Thursday, September 28, 2023
11:45 AM
 - 1:30 PM
Fairmont Royal York

Indigenous Ownership & Canada’s Economic Future

Chief Sharleen Gale (First Nations Major Project Coalition & Fort Nelson First Nation), Ricky Fontaine (Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam), Alex Pourbaix (Cenovus Energy Inc.) & John Stackhouse (RBC) with Mark Podlasly (First Nations Major Project Coalition & Hydro One)
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Advancing major projects is essential for growing the economy to benefit all Canadians. But this can only be achieved through economic reconciliation, including opportunities for Indigenous ownership facilitated by access to competitive capital.

Join Canadian Club Toronto on September 28 when Alex Pourbaix, Executive Chair of Cenovus Energy, kicks off the event by sharing lessons he has learned through industry partnerships with Indigenous nations.

The event continues with Mark Podlasly, Chief Sustainability Officer at First Nations Major Project Coalition and Board Director at Hydro One, leading a discussion with First Nations and business leaders on what more needs to be done to unlock Indigenous participation in the economy to drive growth and raise living standards for future generations:

  • Chief Sharleen Gale – Chair of First Nations Major Project Coalition and Chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation
  • Ricky Fontaine – Senior Advisor with the Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam
  • John Stackhouse – Senior Vice-President in the Office of the CEO at RBC


*For virtual attendees, please note that the live stream will begin at approximately 12:40pm ET & the link will be provided closer to the event date*


Ricky Fontaine, C. Adm., CAFM, C. Dir.

Uashat mak Mani-utenam is one of the nine Innu First Nations in Quebec. The Nation Nitassinan (traditional territory) covers lands that extend from Quebec to Labrador.  5 100 members, of which 90% live on reserve, are represented by the local government on a political, cultural, social, and economic development front. The economy is a mixed public-private blend where the Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam (local government) acts as a catalyst.  Traditional activities have seen government services, construction, real estate, retail, construction services, tourism, fisheries, mining, energy, and services associated with these industries change the scope of economic development over time. The First Nation has signed 5 Impacts and Benefits Agreements with mining companies, affecting the development pace over the last 10 years. Government services account for 150M$ in budget while affiliated entities add another 30M$ a year. Overall, 1 200 employees are associated with Innu Takuaikan.

Ricky Fontaine, C. Adm., CAFM, C.Dir., has been associated with ITUM since 2013 as Executive Director, Senior Advisor, and Consultant. He has led the development of the strategic plan and its implementation for 5 years. He has represented ITUM at different governance bodies including those associated with mining and energy. He is currently on the board of Apuiat Project LLP, which oversees constructing a 200MW wind energy project for the Innu Nation. He is part of the negotiation teams on Nation-to-Nation negotiation with the Quebec Government and the discussion with Hydro-Quebec on a series of energy initiatives. He is working at the Nation level on energy projects on behalf of all the communities as well. He acted as Chair, Chair of Committees, and Member of Committees of many organizations, including community-owned entities, Provincial and Federal Crown entities, and not-for-profit organizations.

Laurentian Pilotage Authority (Chair of the Board – Federal), Régie du Bâtiment du Quebec (Audit Committee Interim Chair and Director – Provincial), Tshiuetin Railway (community-owned entity), and Puamun Meshkennu (Not-for-Profit) are some of the latest governance mandated completed. He is currently Member of the CN – Indigenous Advisory Council, Director of Canada Post, and, Director of Apuiat Project LLP.


Sharleen Gale

Chief of Fort Nelson First Nation and Chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition

Sharleen Gale is a dedicated Indigenous leader and member of the Fort Nelson First Nation, located in the unceded territories of Treaty 8. She has served as an elected Councillor since 2009 and currently holds the position of Chief. As Chief, she upholds a vision for a future where all members of her Nation work together to become strong, proud, healthy, and self-reliant.

Chief Gale has decades of experience in the oil and gas sector, the corporate world, and in leadership. She leverages this experience to help guide the vision of the Fort Nelson First Nation people both at the Council table and in her role as Chair of the Dehtai Corporation, the Nation’s economic arm to prosperity.  During her time as Chief, she has overseen the development of her community’s geothermal electricity project, a partnership on a major renewable energy facility, and the largest community forest tenure in British Columbia.

Chief Gale also is the Chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC), a national, First Nations led not-for-profit organization helping First Nations make informed business decisions concerning major project development. In this role she brings a balanced approach that prioritizes both economic prosperity and environmental stewardship. During her time as Chair, FNMPC has grown to over 130 First Nation members and is providing services to its members on over $40 billion of capital investment.

In June 2023, Chief Gale was appointed by Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources to serve as a member of Canada’s Electricity Advisory Council.


Mark Podlasly

Chief Sustainability Officer, First Nations Major Project Coalition; Director, Hydro One; Chair, First Nations Ltd Partnership; Member, Indigenous Advisory Council, CN

Mark Podlasly, a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation in British Columbia, is the Chief Sustainability Officer at the First Nations Major Project Coalition, a national First Nations organization dedicated to ensuring Indigenous environmental and economic values are incorporated into projects in traditional territories. He counsels Indigenous governments across Canada on the establishment of trusts to invest revenues from resource development.

Mark’s international experience includes the planning, permitting and construction of large capital projects related to energy, resource development and community infrastructure around the world. He has designed and delivered corporate strategy, leadership and globalization programs for a client list that includes GE, Unilever, General Mills, Clorox, Goldman Sachs, and Praxair. He is also a frequent contributor on the subject of industry-Indigenous economic reconciliation, with writings covering a range of issues including ESG, climate change, economic wellbeing and governance.

Mark is a board director of Hydro One, serving on the audit and human resources committees, and a managing trustee of his First Nation’s mining revenue trust fund. In addition, he is an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, and a frequent participant in international forums.

Mark holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor-General of Canada for the founding of Teach for Canada, a non-profit organization that works with northern First Nations to recruit and support committed teachers.


Alex Pourbaix

Executive Chair of the Board, Cenovus Energy

Alex has been a member of the Cenovus Board since November 2017, when he was also appointed President & Chief Executive Officer of Cenovus. He took on the role of Executive Chair of the Board of Directors in April 2023.

As Executive Chair, Alex is responsible for providing leadership to the Board and ensuring ongoing strong governance, while supporting management’s execution of the company’s strategy. He also leads Cenovus’s advocacy efforts including industry initiatives, government relations, ESG engagement and provides ongoing leadership with the Pathways Alliance.

From 2017 to 2023, Alex served as the President & Chief Executive Officer of Cenovus. He was instrumental in strengthening Cenovus’s balance sheet, implementing a disciplined capital allocation framework and reducing costs. He led the company’s strategic acquisition of Husky Energy, which closed in January 2021, and also helped co-found the Pathways Alliance. Prior to joining Cenovus, Alex spent 27 years with TC Energy and its affiliates in a broad range of leadership roles, including Chief Operating Officer, where he was responsible for the company’s commercial activity and overseeing major energy infrastructure projects.

Alex currently serves on the boards of Canadian Utilities Limited and the Board of Governors at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) as Past Chair. He is Board Chair at Mount Royal University and also serves on the Alberta Regional Board of Nature Conservancy Canada. Alex was previously Board Chair for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, a board member at Trican Well Service Ltd. and a founding member of the Business Council of Alberta. In 2022, Alex was awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal in recognition of the contributions he has made to Alberta.

Alex earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Alberta.


John Stackhouse

Senior Vice President, Office of the CEO, Royal Bank of Canada

John Stackhouse is an internationally recognized thought leader, bestselling author and one of Canada’s leading voices on climate change, innovation and economic disruption. He is senior vice-president in the Office of the CEO at Royal Bank of Canada, leading the organization’s Climate Action Institute, research and thought leadership on economic, technological and social change. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail and editor of Report on Business. He also serves as a senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Ins¬¬titute and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and sits on the national committee of the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada. His latest book, Planet Canada: How Our Expats Are Shaping the Future, explores the untapped resource of the millions of Canadians who don’t live here but exert their influence from afar.

** This event is organized in partnership with the First Nations Major Project Coalition and the Business Council of Canada