Economic Development/Employment & Training Update
Please see an important update from the Councillor i/c Economic Development and Employment & Training, C. Roy Petit below:
As you may or may not have heard, I was assigned, by mutual agreement to the ‘Economic Development’ portfolio on the 13th of July. Since then, I have been using my time to review and familiarize myself with the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA’s) we’ve signed, and have also been actively involved with planning for our existing and any new potential business opportunities. It is important to note that there are many people within the Band that are involved in the processes of economic development, because it touches almost all programs in one way or another; all of those involved are working hard at trying to access business opportunities and/or create partnerships that will benefit the community and assist us in becoming the self-reliant, self-sustaining entity that we want to be.
Since our term began there have been a number of presentations made to Chief & Council, from companies who are either selling something, or are hoping to create a partnership with our community; there are definitely no shortage of business ideas and potential opportunities, and along with that, no shortage of people who are trying to cash in on working with First Nations.
In my new role I will be working closely with the Willow Cree Development Corp. and Lands Program to begin sifting through everything in an attempt to find which of these are going to be ‘beneficial’ and ‘realistic’ for us as a community and to create a plan for the future; unlike some of the other Bands we don’t as of yet have any own source revenue with which to access economic development opportunities, and unfortunately, with the financial situation that our band is in, some opportunities are difficult to get involved in, still there are many areas in which we can improve and build on that will put us in a position to be more economically self-sufficient in the future. A meeting is set for October 8th where we will meet to review the progress on all of the items below and hear about other opportunities.
M.O.E./M.O.U.’s/Agreements/B.C.R.’s that have been signed to date:
- BHP Billiton Opportunities Agreement (2014-2019)
- Native American Resource Partners (NARP)
- NativeOne Financial – financial backing for any oil & gas exploration/land purchase
- Energex – Wind Power; awaiting required ‘Migratory Bird Study’
- CoGen – Power & Heat generation from natural gas exhaust; awaiting purchase agreement with SaskPower
- Border Casino – Board approved, in the development stages
- Germain Faval Construction Ltd. – Capacity to access contracts (?)
- I&M Welding Joint Ventures – Partnership agreement signed – no contact (?)
- KAD Protection Services – many who took part in the training are now employed in the industry
- Major Projects Group (Enbridge Line 3 replacement) – Agreement under review by Ron Maurice
- Livecare – (Health) Live On-Line Doctors; looking into costs associated with purchase and monthly fees required
- The Deetken Group – potential ‘Hemp Farming’ opportunities; need to identify potential land areas (Brian/Conrad)
BHP Billiton Opportunities Agreement (Beardy & Okemasis/Fishing Lake)
One of the agreements that we have signed and I’ve been working on since its’ inception is the BHP Opportunities Agreement which allows us some financial assistance in the areas of ‘Community Development’, ‘Education & Training’, and ‘Economic Development’. These are the items that have been applied for to date:
- Community Development 14/15: Governance, Youth Center Supplies, Emergency Preparedness Safety Equipment/Supplies, Internet Upgrade, Digital Billboard. (approved complete)
- Community Development 15/16: Pimacihowin Project/Housing, Youth Center Renovations, Camp Tawow Upgrades (Ph1), Justice Building Addition, Governance, Soccer Field Upgrade, Office Furniture. (not yet approved)
One of the new developments from the BHP agreement is the partnership between our FN and Fishing Lake FN; as identified in the agreement our two Bands are to work together to create a plan on how to access the potential contracts that may come up within the Jansen Lake Project – we have had numerous meetings to date, and have moved forward with a plan to potentially hire a consultant with the allotted dollars to this portion of the agreement.
Beardy’s & Fishing Lake are in the processes of entering into a partnership with the company called ‘Horizon’s North’, which will we are hoping will enable our Bands to access upcoming contracts at the Jansen Lake site, more details will be provided at the yearly community engagement meeting as per BHP Billiton Opportunities Agreement.
On September 24th I was invited to attend the first annual Aboriginal Business Forum sponsored by the Government of Canada, Government of Saskatchewan, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, SaskPower, K+S Potash, FHQ Developments, Enbridge, First Alliance, and – the event provided information on how to access contracts with some of the bigger companies that are in Saskatchewan (primarily Oil & Gas/Potash). First on the agenda were presentations on best practices, followed by Procurement (Buying and Selling of Goods & Services) Opportunities, Identifying SK Aboriginal Supplier Capacity, developing partnerships between existing SK Aboriginal Business, SIIT, and SK Polytechnic for preparing a workforce to be ready for the opportunities that arise, and the Export Database, a online program designed to provide a connection between Aboriginal Business/Workforce, and the Mining Industry.
What I took away from the forum was this: We as a First Nation must create ‘PARTNERSHIPS’ with existing, established companies already in the sectors in order to access “PROCUREMENT’ opportunities that become available – without the “CAPACITY’ to access contracts we will miss out on any and all contracts with any of the larger companies. That being said, we have begun the processes, but like anything else it will take time, and we must do our due diligence when entering into any contracts – we are not by any means going to get to the point of self-reliance over night.
On April 9th, a Band Meeting was hosted by Chief & Council to provide updates to all of the activities happening under the Economic Development Portfolio. This event also included what was to be a nomination and voting process for the newly implemented economic development initiative, Willow Cree Developments (WCD); a ‘Board of Directors’ along with ‘Trustees’ will oversee and monitor the newly formed company and all activities and business will be conducted at arm’s length from the Chief & Council. Unfortunately, due to the lack of participation in the process, individuals had to be appointed as Members/Trustees.
Willow Cree Development Corp.:
President, Juliano Tupone Business Consultant, Pat Woods
Chief, Richard Gamble Councillor i/c, C. Roy Petit (C&C non-voting members)
Bryce Michael, Former Councillor
Russel Scott, Former Councillor
Peter Gardypie, Former Business Owner
Kevin Pook, Former Business Owner (?)
*The Willow Cree Development Corporation is to be governed by their own Policies and Procedures that have been reviewed by Demmans-Baldwin-Frank Law and were approved by Chief & Council.
Employment & Training
I have been working in Employment & Training for the past 10+ years, and will continue to assist members when and where I can within this area.
In the 2014/25 fiscal year there were serious cutbacks to funding from the National Child Benefit Reinvestment (NCBR) dollars, luckily through the BHP Opportunities Agreement, we are allotted yearly funding for training; without this agreement we wouldn’t have been able to provide any of the training we’ve been able to this year.
Because of time constraints at the end of last years’ funding (June 30) we scrambled to get as much training information out there as we could – unfortunately, some of the training opportunities were missed by many due to short notice; this year we will more prepared – Please keep an eye out for upcoming dates in the new year regarding training opportunities.
Below please find the list of training opportunities that were provided through the funding from the BHP Opportunities Agreement:
14/15fy: (approved and completed) 2 rounds of Safety Tickets (1 Saskatoon/Urban/1 On/Reserve); 2 Drivers Training (1 Saskatoon/Urban/1 On-Reserve), Security Guard Training, and a Professional Development Training.
15/16fy: (awaiting approval) 2 rounds of Safety Tickets (Dates TBA), 1 Drivers Training Class 5 (Dates TBA), Power Mobile Equipment Training (Dates TBA), and Security Guard Training (Dates TBA).
*Training initiatives will begin in the New Year – January, February, and March, 2016.
C. Roy Petit, Councillor
Beardy & Okemasis Willow Cree Nation