In the mining business, daily news often involves drill results, production guidance and stock movement. But when Winnipeg-based exploration diamond driller Rodren Drilling pledges to donate up to $1 million over five years to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, it’s a reminder that extending a helping hand has its own rewards.
Rodren has promised to donate 50¢ per metre it drills to the foundation in Winnipeg, Man., and has raised $160,000 in just under two years.
The company’s donations are part of the foundation’s “Be My Hero” campaign, which is dedicated to raising $20 million to assist the hospital in researching disease and medical conditions that affect children.
Over 200 scientists and support staff work with the Manitoba Institute of Child Health, including 40 physicians and clinical specialists at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg.
“I’ve always wanted to give back to the community, and this seems like the perfect opportunity,” says Rodren president Rod Cyr during a phone interview. “I chose the Children’s Hospital because I was a sick kid myself. I’m from Flin Flon originally, and when I got sick they med-evacuated me into the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg. Long story short, here I am today.”
Cyr’s experience is a familiar one for families living across much of the Canadian prairies. The Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg is the only facility of its type between Calgary, Alta., and Thunder Bay, Ont.
“If you have a sick child, and you’re west of Thunder Bay and east of Saskatoon, I think you’re coming right here,” Cyr says.
Rodren has been operating in the Winnipeg area for about 30 years, and specializes in projects throughout Western Canada. The company employs around 200 people, and 60% of its staff comes from First Nation communities near the project sites. A strong relationship with Manitoba’s aboriginal people is something Rodren and the Children’s Hospital have in common.
“We are facing serious health issues in our community with our children. It means our kids are sick and are often separated from family during treatment,” comments Rhoda Harper, an Elder of the Garden Hill First Nations in Manitoba. “We believe the Be My Hero program will help us have a much healthier future.”
Rodren has committed to donating proceeds from its own profits, and has also reached out to other suppliers and companies that cater to Western Canada’s mining industry.
“We just have to approach people, and it’s not a terribly hard sell with the kids. It’s a great thing, it’s tax deductible and it makes you feel good,” Cyr explains when asked about garnering support amongst his peers. “Other suppliers have started to take notice, and that’s what we’re really pushing for now.”
Rodren has set up agreements whereby other companies donate a percentage of sale proceeds to the Children’s Hospital every time Rodren makes a purchase. Current partners include Reflex Instruments, AMC North America, Fordia Group and Dimatec.
Cyr isn’t overly concerned with the details of how the charity uses the funds raised. He just hopes it improves the lives of children.
“The money goes to research,” he explains. “They asked me if I wanted the donations to go to any specific area of the hospital, and I said: ‘You know what, you guys are in charge of spending the money, and we’ll be in charge of trying to make it for you. Just spend it wherever it can help the most.’”
For Rodren the giving also helps it further develop relationship with the communities near where it is active. Cyr says that it’s important for mining companies and suppliers to be known by and supportive of the people living near where they operate.
Rodren is busy with 15 of its 21 drill rigs in operation, and the remaining six are expected to be in the field by mid-May. It’s a little hard at times to get Cyr to talk about drilling, though, when his focus is squarely on the Children’s Hospital.
“The first time I handed a cheque over — I still get all choked up — there were tears in my eyes,” he recalls. “You feel like you’re doing such a good thing. I think people need to go in and see some of these kids, they are really amazing. And what the doctors and staff are doing over there is a great story. It’s a wonderful thing.”