Ecora Engineering & Resource Group (Ecora), founded in 2010 and based in Kelowna, British Columbia, has emerged as a prominent player in the engineering and environmental consulting industry, with a rich history rooted in its commitment to environmental responsibility, community engagement, and innovative solutions.

Ecora’s History

Ecora’s inception in 2010 was the brainchild of four visionary businessmen: Kelly Sherman, Dan Bernier, Dave Myers, and Shikun Ran. Initially, the company focused on forestry and environmental services.

A pivotal moment in its history came in 2012 when Ecora expanded its horizons by acquiring Chesapeak Engineering and welcoming Mike Young, a civil engineer, as an equal partner. “This expansion marked a significant development in the company’s history,” says Kelly Sherman, Principal & Founder, Ecora Group of Companies.

Ecora has since evolved into a multi-disciplinary professional services firm offering a wide range of engineering and environmental services. This marked a significant evolution, transforming Ecora into a multidisciplinary professional services firm, offering a broad spectrum of engineering and environmental services.

The company’s growth trajectory has been remarkable, with strategic planning sessions setting ambitious revenue goals, culminating in a commitment to challenge the world, at the local level, for the betterment of future generations. Ecora’s core values have evolved to emphasize “People First,” alongside Environment, Relationships, and Community, with the PERC awards recognizing team members who exemplify these values.

Specialties and Industries Served

Ecora boasts a diverse range of specialties, catering to various industries. The firm specializes in engineering, environmental consulting, natural resources, land development, indigenous community support, municipal projects, and alternative energy. Their expertise spans civil, geotechnical, and structural engineering, with a stalwart focus on efficient and sustainable solutions.

Ecora’s areas of specialization extend to civil, geotechnical, hydrotechnical, and structural engineering, showcasing their commitment to delivering well-rounded solutions. Their proficiency is not limited to engineering alone; they also excel in environmental assessments, landscape ecology, and remediation, emphasizing their unwavering dedication to environmental values. Sustainable forestry practices, including forest analysis and resource inventories, are a significant part of their portfolio. They also contribute to urban development through planning and landscape architecture, collaborate closely with Indigenous communities, and actively participate in municipal and alternative energy projects.

The Significance of First Nation Collaborations

One of the most notable aspects of Ecora is its deep commitment to collaborative work with First Nations communities. This commitment is not merely a business strategy but a reflection of Ecora’s values and principles, which align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

“Ecora places a profound emphasis on collaborative work with First Nations communities, viewing it as a pivotal aspect of their company culture,” says Sherman.

“Ecora’s commitment to UNDRIP is not just a statement but a comprehensive action plan,” says Sherman. “This plan includes Indigenous awareness training for all team members, a commitment to remove individuals or clients not aligned with Indigenous respect, and support for environmental, economic, and social initiatives outlined in UNDRIP.”

UNDRIP Action Plan

Ecora actively engages with over 40 First Nation communities, extending support beyond business to community initiatives, sponsorships, and charitable activities. These partnerships have enriched Ecora’s work by bringing diverse perspectives, fostering innovation, and driving the success of various projects. Moreover, by aligning with UNDRIP and emphasizing cultural respect, Ecora has gained valuable insights into land management practices from a Traditional Knowledge perspective, which is invaluable towards environmental stewardship.

Ayelstexw – A Partnership Between Cheam First Nation and Ecora

The partnership between Ecora and Cheam Holdings called Ayelstexw Consulting, forged in 2015, is a testament to the power of trust and shared values. The partnership was initiated due to a strong, trusting relationship between members of Ecora and Cheam, as well as a mutual desire to learn from each other and pursue engineering and environmental projects in Cheam’s traditional territory and band lands.

Ecora recognized Cheam as a natural partner for a number of factors. Firstly, Ecora has a rich history of working closely with First Nations, making them an ideal choice for collaboration. Additionally, Ecora’s commitment to capacity building, respect for culture, and extensive experience working with Indigenous communities aligns seamlessly with the founding principles of Ayelstexw. The partnership with Ayelstexw was seen as an opportunity to further strengthen their commitment to Indigenous collaboration.

By working together, both entities can support programs and projects that align with their shared values and their responsibility for reconciliation with Indigenous communities and their members. This partnership has not only enhanced the quality of their projects but has also deepened their commitment to environmental stewardship.

Ayelstexw Consulting brings a unique perspective in that they combine modern engineering and natural resource professional practice with ancestral First Nation values and ways of knowing. This distinctive approach allows them to assess and understand the complete consequences of human activity on the land in a more holistic manner.

“Environmental impact assessment can be complex,” says Sherman. “The many and various components of the natural environment are intricately interwoven and in constant cyclical change. Human interactions with and affecting the environment can be guided by both Traditional Knowledge and Western science.” Ayelstexw’s ability to combine Stó:lo ecological knowledge with industry-standard applied science sets them apart, enabling them to assess, plan, and monitor land development projects more comprehensively and practically.

Ecora and Ayelstexw Consulting are currently collaborating on a range of projects, highlighting the depth and breadth of their partnership. These projects include work on Hope Slough, TMX material testing, data management tools, riparian restoration, and terrestrial ecological assessments. Their combined expertise ensures that these projects are conducted with the utmost care for the environment and in alignment with their shared values. Since inception Ayelstexw has completed over 50 projects exceeding $12 million in revenue.

The Meaning of Ayelstexw

The name Ayelstexw Consulting carries profound significance. In the upriver dialect of the Halqemeylem language, the language of the Sto:lo people, Ayel translates to “good health” or “well-being,” St signifies causing or doing something, and Exw means “them” or “it.” Together, the word Ayelstexw translates to “Leave it in good health” or “Leave it as you found it.” In the context of Ayelstexw Consulting, this name reflects their commitment to leaving the environment in a state of well-being, aligning perfectly with their mission and values.

Ecora’s journey from its founding in 2010 to its current status as a thriving multidisciplinary consulting firm is a testament to its unwavering commitment to environmental responsibility, community engagement, and innovation. Its partnership with Ayelstexw Consulting exemplifies the power of collaboration rooted in shared values, enriching their work and contributing to a more sustainable future.

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