Deanna Burgart, an Indigenous woman raised by a non-Indigenous family who heads her own Calgary-based consulting firm called Indigenous Engineering Inclusion Inc., will bring her message of inclusion to an upcoming forum focused on developing the next generation of oil and gas professionals.
Burgart, who talks about inclusion and innovation as “Indigeneering,” will present as part of the Oil & Gas Beyond Boomers session being hosted by the Canadian Energy Executive Association of Feb. 6.
Preparing for the future isn’t just about attracting young workers, Burgart says – it’s also about diversity. And that’s not just about creating a welcoming workplace for Indigenous people.
“What about new Canadians, who have been trained in their home countries but are Uber drivers here in Canada?,” she asks.
“Some are highly educated, so there’s a huge opportunity there.”
And what about those who identify themselves as gay or transgender? Burgart provides an example. When meetings are held in the workplace, those attending are often greeted with a “welcome ladies and gentlemen” message. But what if attendees don’t identify with either gender?
“When I look at gender identity, there will have to be a willingness on the part of the industry to adjust and to be more inclusive,” she said.
Although the oil and gas industry is changing beyond its days of being an old boy’s club, Burgart said there’s much that needs to be done.
Resisting change is natural, she said, but opening up the workplace to a more inclusive future will create a more dynamic environment, open to change.
The underlying theme of the CEEA event is Peace, Love and Energy, which is a throwback to the Woodstock rock concert, the high point of the Boomer era.
Burgart, a SAIT technology and Lakehead University engineering graduate, is passionate about the need to encourage diversity in the workplace, and about environmental stewardship. After seeing the 2000 movie about the experience of environmental crusader Erin Brockovich, Burgart became much more passionate about and committed to environmental causes. However, the consultant, who was born on a First Nation community in Fond-du-Lac, Sask., was also a realist, recognizing that environmental sustainability and the energy industry could exist with a degree of harmony.
Given her credentials, as an engineer with a deep understanding of most parts of the energy industry, as well as having her roots in Indigenous culture, she believes she can help non-Indigenous energy sector players better understand the role Indigenous people want to play in the industry.
Burgart says she hopes to “challenge people” at the CEEA event to ask, “How do we create an environment where people feel they’re not numbers?”
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