Neyaskweyak Group of Companies Inc. (NGCI), a new amalgamation of enterprises run by Ermineskin Cree Nation held its first annual general meeting last week with a view to enhance economic activities and generation of wealth for the community by centralizing certain decision making processes.
The new group was established in March 2013, bringing together Ermineskin Tribal Enterprises Ltd, Ermineskin Resource Development and commercial operations of the Ermineskin nation under one roof in order to optimize the management of operations and resources.
Trent Blind “ The (Ermineskin Cree) Nation passed the Band Council Resolution back in April 2013 in order to move forward with consolidating the existing group of companies and creating new companies to bring growth and wealth to the community,” said Trent Blind, Chairman of the Board of the NGCI, himself a Treaty 4 Nation member from Saskatchewan.
The NGCI aims to build on the currently ongoing commercial operations like the gas bar and a mall operation as well as the property base and to create partnerships with outside organizations and companies to generate revenue that will benefit the community. Ermineskin Cree have properties in a wide area in Alberta as well as in Parksville, B.C.
Blind said currently they were currently receiving lease revenues from off-reserve property as well as oil and gas operations.
Looking to the future, ”Based on the feasibility study that the chief and council commissioned with a group of consultants, we discovered that the main economic driver for this region is agriculture, so one of our focuses is to put to the best use and get maximum value for the land the nation owns,” said Blind.
“Just recently we commissioned another study for soil sampling and feasibility study for the lands owned by the nation.”
“Our main focus for the future is, basically, to create agricultural value and opportunities off those lands,” Blind said, adding “In addition to that, we are looking at off-reserve investments to support nation members be it students attending post-secondary schools by providing sustainable housing for them or for elders or nation members who have to stay in the cities for extended periods for health reasons.”
Blind said they were also planning to invite industry partners that have the capacity and the capital and in many cases the clients to build joint operations like pipeline construction, welding and provision of vacuum trucks to service the oil and gas sector.