I'm going to do it from the perspective I had when I was just a kid getting into the workforce. At the time, our leaders in the organization were Eric Newell and Jim Carter. Eric was passionate about being able not only to employ first nations individuals but also to give them the economic opportunity that would advance them.
In the community of Fort McKay, it's a tough reconciliation. The time is not long past when traditional living was very much a part of the everyday life for members of the first nation. I think a dramatic shift in interest came from understanding that the land was going to change before them and that adaptation was what was going to ensure survival.
The necessity in the region has always been about having completed at least grade 12 education. You wouldn't be able to get a job on-site unless you had that qualification. This automatically, if you were looking for those opportunities, forced a higher completion rate for high school.
There are still struggles with that. The way they got students engaged was to bring in some incredible people—the principal at the school, the teachers they brought in. There was a period of time when they had very strong school support that helped the youth be able to step into that situation.
When I go to the community I look at elders. These elders have actually lived the lifestyle, as I say, of the past, but they're also the business company owners who are bosses of all these folks who are part of the band and others who come in for the opportunity. For me, having watched that transformation, really in about the last 20 years, has been phenomenal.