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Aboriginal Relations Overview

Over the past five years we have been working on implementing a meaningful, structured and long-term partnership with the Aboriginal community.

Our Aboriginal relations philosophy, strategy and programs are guided by the following principles:

  • Our programs must be sustainable;
  • Our programs must have a clear benefit;
  • Our programs must be community based; and
  • Our programs must be supported by the Aboriginal community.

To provide some structure to our guiding principles we have developed an Aboriginal relations framework that comprises four key areas of focus: 1) Education; 2) Empowering Youth; 3) Economic Development; and 4) Employment.  We call our Aboriginal Relations Strategy and program outreach "Horizons".


HorizonsHorizons was chosen as the signature name to represent Tim Hortons relationship with the Aboriginal community. It reflects a bright future, new interests and experiences, achievement and a quest with no limits. The accompanying graphic brings together a number of important elements. Central to the logo is a vibrating drum - the Indigenous symbol of communications, ceremony and celebration. Within the drum circle, the bursting sun signifies strength, opportunity and the energy of life. Mother Earth is represented by the warm colours of the rich soil. The three cultural motifs honour First Nations (Eagle feather), Métis (Infinity symbol) and Inuit (Inukshuk).


Our education efforts are centered around raising awareness of the issues and opportunities facing the Aboriginal community, within the Tim Hortons Family. 

With the assistance of Millbrook First Nations of Truro, Nova Scotia, we developed a comprehensive online training program for our Restaurant Team Members and Corporate Employees.  Two modules cover workplace diversity and cross-cultural Aboriginal awareness. Topics include: Aboriginal culture, overcoming prejudice, common myths, Aboriginal history, treaties, self-government, residential schools, oral tradition, current culture, and recognition of Aboriginal role models.

In 2012, we had approximately 42,000 Restaurant Team Members complete Aboriginal awareness training and since 2009, over 200,000 Restaurant Team Members have completed this training.

Empowering Youth

In line with our focus on children and youth at Tim Hortons, we are passionate about empowering Aboriginal youth in Canada.  We support Aboriginal youth programming at our Tim Hortons Children Foundation Camps and also sponsor a number of youth-specific events on an annual basis.

Aboriginal Youth at Camp

TIM HORTON CHILDREN'S FOUNDATIONThe Tim Horton Children's Foundation invites youth, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to attend one of our six camps throughout the year. In 2012, over 2,300 Aboriginal youth attended our Tim Horton Childrens Foundation camps for structured learning.  The camps are typically overnight stays, assisted by elders and community leaders,  whereby the youth experience team building, confidence building and interpersonal skills development.  Included in the programming is exposure to Aboriginal culture and language, from the community that the youth are from.  We have welcomed the following First Nations and youth-serving organizations from across Canada: Eskasoni First Nation, Pictou Landing First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River, Tsuu T'ina Nation, Membertou First Nation, Mi'kmaq First Nation, Heiltsuk First Nation, Native Child & Family Services of Toronto, Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board, The Native Youth Advancement with Education Hamilton, Can Am Inidan Friendship Centre, Windsor, Lac La Croix First Nation, and Pikangikum First Nation.

Late in 2009, we announced a five-year partnership with the Ted Nolan Foundation. Aboriginal youth identified through the Ted Nolan Foundation are taught the Seven Grandfather Teachings, with the support of Elders and facilitators from their communities, at Tim Horton Children's Foundation Camps. In 2012, we hosted 236 youth from the Ted Nolan Foundation at our Camps.

Outside Looking In

OUTSIDE LOOKING INThe Tim Horton Children's Foundation is a founding partner of Outside Looking In (OLI), an innovative program that develops Aboriginal youth leadership, confidence and self-esteem through performing hip hop dance.

Founded by Tracee Smith of Missanabie Cree First Nation, OLI is an extensive program that works in Indigenous communities across Canada, delivering professional dance instruction over six months. Should youth follow the rules of remaining in school and participating fully in all OLI rehearsals, they are invited to travel to Toronto to perform for sold-out audiences at Toronto's St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts.

Since its inception, OLI has worked with the communities of Lac La Croix First Nation, Pikangikim First Nation and Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve.

DreamWalkers Gathering

Members of Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board (NPAAMB) have been guests of the Tim Horton Onondaga Farms Children's Foundation Camp since 2007. Each fall they host a terrific program called "DreamWalkers Gathering." This program's objective is to provide youth with support and encouragement to stay in school and graduate at the high school level. Aboriginal high school students in grades 9 through 12 from the Brantford, Hamilton, St. Catharines and Fort Erie, Ontario areas participate. Successful speakers from the fields of business, arts, entertainment and sports deliver motivational and provocative messages, together with a variety of educational activities, to help students set goals and make decisions about education, career and life choices.


We are a founding sponsor of IndigenACTION, an initiative of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), launched to support and further enhance opportunities for Indigenous peoples and communities through active lifestyles, sport and fitness.

IndigenACTION is led by the AFN Youth Council and IndigenACTION Ambassador Waneek Horn Miller, a Mohawk woman from Kahnawake territory (near Montreal) who competed in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. IndigenACTION facilitates the development of a national strategy, gathering input from a variety of stakeholders inviting athletes, sports institutions, the public and private sectors. Roundtable workshops were held across Canada, so as to  identify opportunities, common goals and objectives. The information collected from these roundtable discussions will inform a national strategy to support and stabilize new and existing initiatives and organizations that support young Indigenous athletes, fitness and well-being in Indigenous communities.

Concert for a Cure

CONCERT FOR A CURE"In 2008, we committed to being the lead sponsor of Concert for a Cure", presented by the Six Nations Community Youth Outreach (SYCYO) for a five-year period. A jazz and blues performer himself, community organizer and concert MC, Jace Martin brings together leading musicians and artists to perform for the community of Six Nations of the Grand River. All proceeds raised benefit community members who are suffering from cancer.

Support of ITK

Tungasuvvingat Inuit youth attend their first Leadership Camp at Camp des Voyageurs in Quyon, Quebec

We have been supporting Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI), both national organizations representing the Inuit of Canada, since 2009. We have sponsored signature events such as Taste of the Arctic and the annual golf tournament fundraiser. Many youth, under the leadership of TI, attended our Tim Horton Children's Foundation Camp Voyageur at Quyon, Quebec. They participated in leadership training sessions including a focus on language and culture.

Right to Play

Promoting Life-skills for Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) is a pilot program developed by Right To Play, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and other organizations.  The program helps Aboriginal youth improve their health, self-esteem and leadership skills through participation in sport and play activities. The first communities to benefit from the program are Moose Cree First Nation, Sandy Lake First Nation, Marten Falls First Nation and Wapekeka First Nation.

Tim Hortons has joined the PLAY partner group by supporting their Youth Leadership Program. Our support includes a cash donation along with in-kind support provided by the Tim Horton Children's Foundation. Onondaga Farms and The Tim Horton Memorial Camp in Parry Sound have hosted PLAY's Youth Leadership Community Mentor Workshops.

This workshop was designed to offer community mentors, supervisors and in-field interns the opportunity to learn about the program, enhance their facilitation skills, prepare implementation plans and modify the program to fit their community's cultural needs.

Youth Leadership Program - Community Mentor Workshop at Onondaga Farms; Oct 2011

National Aboriginal Day - Fort York, Toronto

In 2012, Tim Hortons was the lead sponsor for National Aboriginal Day activities taking place at Fort York, Toronto. The event celebrated the arrival of the first fruit of summer - the strawberry A  sunset ceremony was conducted by Elders, with members of the Mississauga of the New Credit  on hand to talk about their history with storytelling and poetry to over 130 school children and teachers. Visitors to Fort York were able to participate in an Aboriginal ceremony and learn more about First Nations spiritual traditions honouring the land, the season and the environment. Refreshments donated by Tim Hortons were available for purchase, with all proceeds donated to Fort York programming.

Elder Garry Sault - Mississauga of The New Credit

Economic Development

Our Economic focus area is centered on building restaurants on Aboriginal lands as well as encouraging the inclusion of Aboriginal restaurant owners.

As at the end of 2012, we had 12 locations on reserves (the majority under lease agreements), and 5 restaurants were Aboriginally-owned (4 in Canada and 1 in the US).  We are committed to growing the number of franchises on or near reserves. Future restaurant locations will provide an opportunity for employment, management and economic development opportunities for the Aboriginal community.

In December of 2010, we opened for the first time in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Located in three Northmart locations, these kiosks offer a limited menu in a self-service format. A traditional ceremony and prayer was offered by a local Elder to mark the occasion. A charity benefit concert was performed by Susan Aglukark, with all proceeds donated to the local Embrace Life youth-serving organization. With these Iqaluit openings, we now proudly operate in every province and territory in Canada.

Our most recent kiosk opening was on the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, in the Sagkeeng Superstore. The venture is anticipated to provide a major economic impact to the region and community. On its first day of opening, the Superstore and Tim Horton's kiosk had several hundred visitors and there were many door prizes and draws as management's show of appreciation to the community.

Grand opening ribbon cutting with Elder Martha Michael

Restaurant owners Brian and Sharon Bruyere, Sagkeeng opening

Grand opening of Tim Hortons' kiosk in Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan


We have long been recognized as a "first job" employer for youth and a provider of on-the-job training. The fastest-growing youth demographic in Canada is Aboriginal youth. The combination of these factors suggests that an opportunity exists for us to be an employer of choice for the Aboriginal community. We are continually broadening our understanding of cross-cultural differences and removing any possible barriers to employment.  Our vision is to become an employer of choice for the Aboriginal community.  Understanding recruitment and retention of Aboriginal employees is part of our program development.   We have been partnering with the Aboriginal Human Resource Council  in order to identify strategies for recruitment and retention of Aboriginal community members interested in working at a Tim Hortons restaurant.

Mastering Aboriginal Inclusion Workshop, Nov 21-22, 2011

Following a successful pilot in 2011, we are working to broaden workshops for Aboriginal Inclusion, partnering with Aboriginal Human Resources Council. The objective of the workshop was to share best practices and to discuss new ways of recruiting and retaining Aboriginal community members, as Tim Hortons restaurant staff.

Topics discussed included: a brief history of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and how social, economic, cultural and political exclusionary practices have affected today's workplaces; sourcing of talent; retention factors & strategies; and core principles of forming and maintaining Aboriginal partnerships. The end result will be a sharing of the learnings from both workshops, so as to assist Tim Hortons franchisees across Canada with their efforts to become an employer of choice, for the Aboriginal community.


Algonquin College ASEEP programWe continue to partner with Algonquin College on a unique Aboriginal education - labour attraction initiative. The objective of this eight week program was to enhance the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal students within the workplace and to provide opportunities for employment at a local Tim Hortons restaurant.  This program is considered unique due to the overall program curriculum that includes ongoing access to a "job coach" that acts as a mentor/advisor to the students and the employer's management. Heavy emphasis is placed on pre-employment readiness as well as cultural issues that are involved with a "first job" experience.  The overall pilot focus is from both the student and the employer perspectives.

"It is great to see an employer such as Tim Hortons come forward to set a new standard in employment by working with Algonquin College to provide a unique opportunity to Aboriginal students.  This new standard consists of the three partners (Student, the College and Tim Hortons) understanding and delivering on their commitments, enabling each partner to be successful."
- Dwight Powless, Community Liason Resource, Algonquin College

Continued Support

We are supporting the following key organizations that are dedicated to advancing the well-being of opportunities for Aboriginal peoples:

  • The Ted Nolan Foundation. The Ted Nolan Foundation is committed to the healing process to renew and revitalize the mind, body and spirit of our young people, through a philosophy of a healthy lifestyle.
  • The Arctic Children and Youth Foundation (ACYF). The mission of the ACYF is to work at all levels to assist Arctic children and youth to attain standards of living, education, opportunities and health and well-being equal to those of other Canadians.
  • The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB). The CCAB is a national non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping companies increase employment, foster positive business relations and create economic opportunities for Aboriginal people, businesses and communities across Canada.