About Us

Sedgwick Strategies is a firm dedicated to assisting major projects to achieve success. In today’s politically charged environment almost every major project, from mining to transmission lines, is contentious. Modern companies need the tools necessary to de-risk their projects across diverse stakeholder groups.

We are committed to getting worthwhile projects in the industrial, natural resource and infrastructure sectors to “YES.”

Unfortunately, in British Columbia the list of unsuccessful projects is very long. Pipelines, mines, transmission lines and even public infrastructure projects have floundered as a result of the inability of the project to address “soft issue risk” or as some describe it, issues around social license.

Sedgwick has the experience and the team necessary to overcome these risks and help you and your organization achieve success.

Byng Giraud

Byng Giraud

President

Byng specializes in obtaining approvals for major projects in the industrial, natural resources and infrastructure sectors. Byng has been using his extensive experience to help clients de-risk large scale projects at early stages in order to allow for construction.

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Previously, Byng was with Woodfibre LNG Limited from 2013 as the company’s first North American employee.  During the development stages of the project Byng served as Vice President of Corporate Affairs and then led the project locally as Country Manager. As the project moved to construction, he wrapped up his role in order to move to new projects. Byng concurrently served five years as Chairman of Ridley Terminals Inc. a Canadian government owned bulk export terminal in Prince Rupert, BC. Some of the recent highlights of Byng’s work include:

  • Obtaining federal, provincial, and indigenous approval of the 2.1 mtpa Woodfibre LNG project near Squamish, British Columbia.
  • Negotiated and helped Squamish Nation implement the first ever indigenous environmental assessment process in Canada
  • Negotiated the first ever agreements between operating mines and First Nations in British Columbia including agreements with five first nations at two separate projects.
  • Led the corporate affairs and indigenous consultation processes leading to the 2012 re-opening of the Huckleberry Mine in northern British Columbia.
  • Led the Northwest Powerline Coalition, a coalition of companies, indigenous groups and individuals that successfully lobbied the BC Government to build the Northwest Transmission line along Highway 37 –thus opening the region to mining and power projects.
  • Chaired Ridley Terminals Inc. during the Federal Crown Corporation’s negotiations with Altagas that led to the building of a 1.2 mtpa liquified propane export facility in Prince Rupert—the first hydrocarbon export facility on the west coast in decades.
  • Directly negotiated numerous indigenous economic benefit and related agreements.

Recently he was asked to sit on the BC Assembly of First Nations-BC Business Council “Champion’s Table”, a body dedicated to breaking new ground in economic reconciliation. Byng continues to be involved in innovative efforts at First Nations economic reconciliation.

Before Woodfibre, Byng was in an executive role with a Canadian copper/gold mining company. Byng has also served as a Vice-President with both the Association for Mineral Exploration BC and the Mining Association of BC. Before that, Byng worked with some of Canada’s top public affairs agencies. And prior to his corporate career, Byng obtained extensive political experience working for Members of Parliament, MLAs and a Senator as well as holding senior roles in several of election campaigns. He has served on the board of directors of the BC Business Council, the Vimy Ridge Foundation, Geoscience BC, Canada Place Corporation, Initiatives Prince George, and a number of other organizations.

In 2012 Byng received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for volunteerism.

Byng holds a MSc. Econ. from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, an MBA from the University of Cambridge (Jesus College) and a BA from the University of Victoria. On the weekends Byng collects bruises playing rugby and practices his Spanish (fluency A2/B1).

Allie Meeres, BBA

Allie Meeres, BBA

Vice President

A communications and stakeholder relations’ expert, Allie has experience helping move forward natural resource projects throughout British Columbia.

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Stakeholder Relations – Since 2017, Allie worked on the Woodfibre LNG project. She managed community and stakeholder relations for the project, including building and maintaining relationships with local, provincial and indigenous governments the project worked through pre-construction management plans, amendments, and permits. This has included leading stakeholder engagement through two amendment periods and working closely with regulatory, construction, engineering and legal teams. Allie also led the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) file, presenting at community meetings and helping to draft initial agreement documents.

Communications and marketing – From 2015 to 2017, Allie managed the marketing and communications for the Association for Mineral Exploration. In her role, Allie was responsible for the AME brand, media relations, website, all aspects of social media, and developing communications pieces covering a variety of mineral exploration topics. She also managed the AME Roundup team to execute a successful AME Roundup conference that hosted 6000+ delegates annually. During her time at AME, Allie led the company through a strategic re-brand, which resulted in the creation of brand guidelines, a new visual identity, a new website and altering the name of the organization.

Indigenous Relations – From 2014 to 2015, Allie worked in Smithers BC for the School of Exploration and Mining at Northwest Community College. In her role, she worked between the Federal and Provincial government, indigenous communities and mining companies to deliver programs for training to first nations communities so that mining companies could employee these individuals. She helped run programs all over northern BC and northwards. The most interesting program was in Kugluktuk, Nunuvut, where the school ran an Environmental Monitor program with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association. This time in her career ignited Allie’s passion for working directly with indigenous communities, and allowed her the opportunity to travel to several remote communities.

Allie holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Diploma in Marketing Management from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. She is a graduate of the Minerva Foundation’s Women Leading the Way program, a member of BCBC’s NEXT Generation Leader’s Council, a past board member of the Squamish Chamber of Commerce, and spent several years as a Child Life volunteer at BC Children’s hospital. Allie is a marathon runner and enjoys spending most of the summer on a boat exploring BC’s coast.

Marian Ngo

Marian Ngo

Senior Consultant, Government Relations (Indigenous & Non-Indigenous)

A solutions-driven negotiator and strategic planner, Marian Ngo seeks innovative and progressive approaches in the field of government relations – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

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Adaptable to constantly changing environments, but never losing track of the objectives, she hones in on rationales for processes– if the status quo does not allow for needs to be addressed, she works with all parties to develop a partnership and plan that does.

Marian was the 2nd employee at Woodfibre LNG, where for over 6 years she led on various files, most notably government relations – at all levels. With Indigenous governments, she was part of the core team that successfully obtained an environmental certificate from Squamish Nation, the first Indigenous environmental certificate of its kind in Canadian history. This milestone also had significant influence on the Federal Government’s proposed changes to environmental assessment. In addition, Marian was instrumental in obtaining an impact benefit agreement with Squamish Nation and a Term Sheet with Tsleil Waututh Nation.

Keeping in constant discussion with Ministers and government officials regarding the provincial Climate Action Plan and incentivizing investments in British Columbia, Marian’s efforts directly led to the conceptualization and eventual creation of the electric drive rate for LNG projects. These changes were lauded by environmental organizations, businesses and communities alike and solved many initial impasses in financing for several projects. With the Federal government, she worked on various files from macro-industry employment and training matters to a solution on taxation around fabricated industrial steel components (FISC).

Prior to LNG, Marian was working in Ottawa in several leadership roles with the Federal Government. Initially moving to Ottawa to work for then Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, Marian was part of the core team that built a successful stakeholder engagement plan that put multicultural issues on the forefront of political discussions. During her time in government, she also served as press secretary to what was then called Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), strategic communications staff for the Office of the Prime Minister and Stakeholder Relations at Status of Women Canada.

Marian has a degree in Political Science from Simon Fraser University.

Services

Integrated Corporate Affairs Management

Studies indicate Canadian CEOs devote almost half of their time (49%) to communications, both with external stakeholders such as investors, government, the media or customers, and internal audiences such as employees and management. 

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CEOs recognize the importance of building trust and alignment with all stakeholders – with a priority focus on the board, investors, the media and relevant government contacts. Among those we interviewed, most spend on average about half of their time managing “up and out.” Harvard Business Review, February 2019.

Nontechnical risks are now the primary challenges for natural resource and infrastructure projects in Canada. The synthesis of government relations, indigenous relations, community relations, communications, and regulatory affairs probably constitute the key risks your company and your projects are facing. 

At Sedgwick we distinguish ourselves by providing our clients the strategies, tools, and tactics to overcome these risks. We look at your challenges holistically so that, with our clients, we can identify primary barriers to success. 

In the modern environment the segregation of these five “soft issue” factors can be a recipe for failure. Sedgwick Strategies overcomes that silo-ing to deliver you results.

Previously it was all about technology and big project capability and those hard, technical skills. That’s (now) about one-third of the equation. About two-thirds is all about those social aspects…what we as a company call non-technical risks. It is the core of what we do now. If I look at how I spend my time…its about half of my time and that’s a change over the past twenty years.

Marvin Odum, President of Shell Oil Company at the BC LNG Conference 2014. As found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hncjhy6O2Uo

At Sedgwick Strategies we understand that not every problem is a nail and not every solution is a hammer. We get to know your challenges and provide the right support to overcome them be they with government, indigenous communities, regulatory officials, media, community or elsewhere.

Government Relations

Government relations (or lobbying) is not what you think it is anymore. Checks and balances within our government systems, including regulatory officials with statutory decision-making authority, mean that convincing a single political figure to make a change is no longer sufficient. 

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We understand government and the individuals within government. Processes, personalities, and procedures all need to be properly understood to craft a government relations strategy that takes you to the right decision makers in order to ensure success.

Major projects, which typically take several years to complete, need a plan that anticipates the major decisions and government influences on the project. 

Whether you are seeking a change in legislation, policy or regulation or you are being regulated and are looking for better outcomes Sedgwick can help by mapping a path forward for your company.

Indigenous Relations

Studies indicate Canadian CEOs devote almost half of their time (49%) to communications, both with external stakeholders such as investors, government, the media or customers, and internal audiences such as employees and management.

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Securing indigenous support is critical to the success of major infrastructure projects. Working in line with indigenous communities’ social and economic goals, organizations need to build strong, respectful and productive working relationships with indigenous groups. Given the complex political climate in Canada, for government to consider any forms of project support, indigenous support is required.

Communications & Public Relations

Studies indicate Canadian CEOs devote almost half of their time (49%) to communications, both with external stakeholders such as investors, government, the media or customers, and internal audiences such as employees and management.

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Modern times are very much about the hyper social amplification of risk.

“…social and individual factors act to amplify or dampen perceptions of risk and through this create secondary effects such as the stigmatization of technologies, economic losses or regulatory impacts.”

Communications, or how we express positions, interpretations and information, plays an integral role in the success of major projects. Communications supports all aspects of a project, from gaining social license to achieving project approvals, organizations need to strategize what, when, how, and to whom to communicate information to. Failure to prioritize strategic communications, including a touchstone website, proper branding, pro-active media relations and a digital strategy – can cause significant project delay.

But communication is no longer about viewing the recipient (or target audience) solely as a recipient of information. Social media and changing views about the public’s role in project approvals has turned communications and public relations into a process that is iterative and more akin to a dialogue.

The way in which projects are spoken about in the media is also fundamental to project success. Mass media is a significant force in modern culture. Sociologists refer to this as a “mediated culture” where media reflects and creates the culture. Communities and individuals are bombarded constantly with messages from a multitude of sources including radio, Facebook, and TV, to name a few. These messages promote moods, attitudes, and a sense of what is and is not important.

In our experience, no stakeholder is immune to the media’s influence, including all levels of government. Effective messaging to your target audiences will in turn indirectly influence decision makers, community leaders and regulators.

For example, we have seen situations where effective mobilization of opposition to a project, through emails, postings and communications to a supposedly neutral regulator led to time extensions of public comment periods. In effect, the regulator was influenced by communications tactics—presenting a one-sided view of public opinion—into making a particular regulatory decision.

That is why we take strategic communications very seriously. We have helped organizations through British Columbia navigate protests, major environmental crisis, and indigenous disapproval. Whether your organization wants to influence specific stakeholder groups, re-establish itself following a crisis, educate the local community, or build a new website, Sedgwick can help your project achieve its communications objectives.

Having successfully led major projects through federal, provincial and first nations-led EA processes, Sedgwick can work with your organization to create a communications strategy for each phase of a project.

Community Relations

Despite its growth and its inherent advantages, social media and communications through media will never replace effective “on the ground” communications. Humans remain social creatures and the connections we make at a personal level, while more time consuming, are inevitably much stronger than any communication via social media. Face-to-face discussions are the foundation of our communication. Effective community relations allow us to build trust, clearly articulate our ideas and minimize misunderstanding.

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In practice, community relations involve interaction with local stakeholders at the community level in order to better understand them, their wants and needs. Without a sincere effort to understand and accommodate local needs, projects can easily flounder. More importantly, without effective community relations, opposition to projects and development can easily take hold as opponents fill the vacuum and develop relationships where a proponent failed to.

Sedgwick understands this and takes community relations seriously without treating it as an afterthought. Attempting to effectively communicate at a distance can lead to failure. We not only provide strategic advice on effective community relations; we physically help our clients engage in the places they need to be.

Most famously the Chinese strategist Sun Zu stated: We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country—its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps. We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides.

When it comes to British Columbia, let the Sedgwick team be your local guide. We know and have visited every community in the province. We were born and raised here. We’ve lived in those communities—from the Peace River, to the Kootenays to the Coast—and we understand how businesses can quickly be branded as “from the city” or “from downtown”. We wear suits, but we also wear work boots. Finally, we maintain relationships with local community leaders across BC and if we don’t know someone your company needs to know—its likely we know someone who does.

Regulatory Affairs

Regulatory Affairs is the next step in effective government relations. It deals with the myriad of regulations that govern your project or company and the vast number of civil servants who administer and make decisions about those regulations.

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In the past, success with project approvals hinged on government relations—convincing senior government decision makers (politicians and senior bureaucrats) of the need for change. Moving a single decision maker was generally sufficient.

But modern western democracies have developed highly complex bureaucracies staffed by regulators and experts in almost every aspect of a project or issue. And, statutory decisions are often delegated to mid-ranked experts with politicians happy to leave the tough decision elsewhere in the maze of government.

For example, an environmental assessment certificate will pass across the desk of dozens of civil servants, each with their own regulations and/or legislation to administer. Each of their individual approvals–be it on air quality, water quality, cumulative effects or any other minutia of your project or issue—is necessary to move to the next stage. Problems in a single area can hold up processes for months, at considerable expense.

At Sedgwick we aren’t just door openers for meetings with politicians (although we can do that too!). Our team has actually been through multiple environmental assessment processes at the federal , provincial and even indigenous government level. We understand the opportunities and dangers associated with being unprepared for these complex processes. And we have spent time getting to understand the legislation, the regulation and the people involved. We will work with your team to develop strategies, tactics and tools to minimize your regulatory burden.

Industries

Mining

The website mining.com stated in 2019 that “social license” is one of the key challenges facing the mineral sector. Perceptions by decision-makers, regulators and the general public are shaped by rare and often negative encounter, via the media, with the sector. Environmental Assessments are taking longer than they should and to make matters more uncertain, both the Federal and BC Provincial Government have implanted new environmental assessment legislation that remains untried.

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Yet Canada remains one of the world’s top nations in mining and in mining expertise. Nature risk takers, miners continue to seek opportunities in the world class geology of Canada.

Our team and direct and on the ground experience with mining at all stages from early stage exploration to closure and remediation. And we have been, or are involved in mining projects in most regions of the province. We can help you work to lower soft issue risk through our experience with government, indigenous communities, and regulators. As well we have forged alliances in communities across British Columbia. No matter where your project, its likely we have some relationships in the region from our past work.

Oil & Natural Gas

Oil and, to a lesser extent, natural gas have become the popular target for anti-industry activity in Canada. Despite providing some of the lowest emission processes in the world, coupled with state of the art environmental and safety practices, hydrocarbons are under assault. The dissonance between the consumers everyday use of these products and their perceptions of the sector make any and all industrial projects difficult.

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Unfortunately, many companies in the past have chosen to make subjective “soft” issues secondary in project development, with expectedly disastrous consequences including project cancellations after significant sunk costs.

Our team has helped hydrocarbon projects proceed under the most unlikely of circumstances and in unexpected places. We do this by helping you make your project better and by finding allies who know when a company is going above and beyond. We have specific, hands on experience, in achieving approvals for major projects in this sector.

Infrastructure

Ports, rail and transmission lines, as key parts of the infrastructure necessary to keep our economy running, have also begun to run afoul of public opinion, stronger regulatory regimes, and general opposition. Even when the government is a proponent, these factors can work to delay projects. To counter this, infrastructure projects have to engage early and with clear communication to all stakeholders.

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Our team has years of experience moving forward infrastructure projects that face opposition from diverse stakeholder groups often related to land acquisition, escalating construction costs and the presence of endangered species on project sites. By providing a roadmap for your project, including elements of indigenous relations, government relations, and communications, we will work alongside your team to lessen public opposition and progress your project.

Power Projects

Whether built by utilities or by the private sector, Canada is home to a wealth of renewable power projects from hydropower to run-of-river to biomass. Large hydropower provides most of the world’s renewable energy and almost 90% of British Columbia’s electricity, but the building of hydroelectric and other renewable energy infrastructure is not, however, without public concern.

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As the demand for power grows globally, public discourse about the effect of environmental and social impacts required to build power projects is also growing. Like all forms of energy, power projects cannot completely prevent stresses on plant, animal, and human well-being.

In Western Canada we are seeing two trends that require an integrated approach in this sector. Firstly, government and public interest in renewables and/or the GHG emissions of non-renewables requires a clear understanding of all stakeholders critical for the success of such projects. Secondly indigenous communities are becoming very interested in taking a greater role in power projects within their traditional territories. This means energy project proponents in Western Canada generally need to develop meaningful relationships with indigenous communities in order to proceed. Such relationships often lead to the need for some form of economic arrangement in order for the proponent to ensure the necessary indigenous support.

Successful energy projects in Western Canada have made indigenous, community and government relations a cornerstone. Sedgwick’s experience in project approvals and support from these disparate groups can help ensure that same success for your project.

Indigenous Business in the Natural Resource Sector

Through our team’s experience of working on projects across the province, we have come to learn a lot about indigenous businesses and the opportunities for those businesses associated with natural resource and infrastructure projects.

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Whether you’re a business seeking indigenous partners, an indigenous business looking to take advantage of procurement opportunities associated with a project, or a project looking for greater inclusion of indigenous people, we can help. Our relationships can help build the necessary tools to allow such businesses to thrive. Our extensive network of associates also allows us to draw on years of experience in nurturing, mentoring and building indigenous economic opportunities.

Whether you are considering indigenous partners, indigenous equity participation, joint ventures, contracting or other forms of relationships, we have experience and we can help you improve your company’s likelihood of success while helping develop the economic strength of indigenous communities Western Canada.