CanNorth Celebrates 25 Years

CanNorth turned 25 in August! One of the largest environmental service providers in Saskatchewan, CanNorth is proud to be 100% owned by Kitsaki. Their projects extend across Western Canada, where CanNorth teams provide a wide range of environmental and heritage studies for a diverse client base in power generation, mining, heritage, and more. In 2022, CanNorth completed Environmental Site Assessments for the LLRIB and Indigenous Services Canada to facilitate the transfer of administration of the First Nations lands between the Government of Canada and the LLRIB.

With warmer weather and access to lakes extending into October 2022, staff spent a large amount of time in northern Saskatchewan collecting water, fish, plant, and other samples. The community division was busy conducting engagement activities with industry clients and traditional foods studies. A large project this year involved assisting the McIlvenna Bay Operation in the preparation of their Environmental Impact Statement for the McIlvenna Bay copper mining project located in east-central Saskatchewan.

Congratulations goes out to CanNorth’s General Manager Peter Vanriel who received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal from the Government of Saskatchewan in November in recognition of “demonstrated exceptional qualities and outstanding service to the province.” The award was presented to Peter by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Russell Mirasty, who is an LLRIB member.

CanNorth maximizes Indigenous community involvement wherever possible, integrates traditional knowledge into projects, and prioritizes investment in Indigenous talent through the creation of employment opportunities. If you are interested in learning more about working at CanNorth, please contact human resources department at

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ACLP Goes Full Service

Exploration Hub Opens in La Ronge

Athabasca Catering (ACLP) used downtime in its operations due to reduced uranium production toward the end of the 2010s to invest its efforts expanding its client base outside that sector. When the pandemic shut things down even further, ACLP was already exploring new avenues for expansion, identifying many opportunities for growth.

This macro approach to strategy has served ACLP well as it ramps up to meet increasing mining sector growth fueled by global demand for uranium and rare earth metals. The calendar’s year end will also drive investors to release significant growth and exploration funding. For December 2022, this means a massive increase in the request for ACLP’s services.

“This year is nuts,” says Alan Cole, ACLP’s Managing Director. “We’ll easily meet pre-pandemic averages serving our existing operating clients alone, and we’ll add to that with new clients in exploration by at least 25-30% in 2023.”

ACLP has been investigating new opportunities and markets since 2017, first identifying a gap in services to the exploration segment in northern Saskatchewan.

“We knew the services that segment needed were in our wheelhouse,” says Cole. “Our crews have no problem working at camps and in the bush. Shorter-term contracts also have the flexibility our team members are looking for.”

Opportunities in exploration and growth in the mining sector overall pushed the needle on ACLP’s goals to move toward a full-service operation. They added internet and communications to the established roster of ACLP services in 2019. Tented accommodations followed soon after.

“In 2022, we went full-service,” says Alan. “We took advantage of the opportunity a slower market provided when it came to enhancing our skillset, and also used that space to promote our services.”

New relationships with a helicopter operator and Saskatch- ewan-based drilling company shifted ACLP’s offerings to covering a full complement of related services, moving ACLP to explore warehousing options closer to operations. The new exploration hub in La Ronge opens at the end of 2022.

“Our La Ronge warehouse is ground zero for our operations in the north,” says Cole, “Logistically, it’s an important staging space that helps us maintain and distribute vital equipment to existing and future clients.”

A regional hub with warehousing capacity also enables ACLP to buy bulk and control more aspects of the supply chain, giving them more control on costs, and ability to estimate for the year ahead. The exploration hub helps ACLP and its clients mobilize on various projects, while also generating more opportunities for regional employment.

“One ACLP differentiator is that it’s Indigenous-owned,” says Cole, “We’re also able to provide a range of services without extensive subcontracting. This gives us, and our clients, greater ability to estimate overall project costs and plan for margins that its clients can manage.”

Regional, direct service models are taking prominence in the resource-related sectors across Canada, enabling service providers to plan for more kinks in the supply chain along a products’ journey from manufacturing to operations. This model, and the soon-to-open exploration hub, strengthen ACLP’s buying position.

“No matter how big your buying power is, you can’t control world pricing inflation rates,” says Cole. “It’s about the standard approach to commercial models. ACLP’s estimation is more holistic, build around considerations for flexibility in delivery if the dominant commercial options are unavailable.”

Lots of action needs lots of hands! Find out more about ACLP projects and career opportunities at

March Consulting Plans for Bright Future

Supporting Demands of Booming Resource Sector

To meet the demands of a booming potash sector, as well as First Nations infrastructure and clean energy sectors, March Consulting Associates Inc. (“March”) needs additional talent – and lots of it. The company is aiming to achieve hiring goals by building relationships to increase science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent in First Nation communities and by expanding their offices outside of the province.

“We decided to open an office in Calgary in September,” says Ritu Malhotra, March President & CEO. “Like all others in our sector, we’re facing some challenges with skilled labour shortage. While March has been fairly successful in recruiting top talent in Saskatchewan, growing our presence outside the province will help us meet our project needs in Saskatchewan and open the door to new project opportunities in Alberta.”

March is not just growing in Alberta – the company is on a hiring spree in Saskatchewan as well. With the addition of eight team members already in Calgary, March is expecting to close in on a team of 100 employees and contractors in 2023.

What’s fuelling this growth? First and foremost, the potash sector’s challenges related to managing global shortages resulting from conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Russia and Belarus supply 40% of the world’s potash, and with 25% of their potash shipments constrained, Canadian mining companies are ramping up to meet demand. March is busy working with all the major potash producers in Saskatchewan to support increased production. As the world moves towards cleaner energy sources, the work in the Uranium sector with Saskatchewan’s top producers continues to be strong.

It’s not just Potash, Uranium and clean energy sectors that March is focusing on for 2023. When Kitsaki bought a 25% share equity in March in 2014, March committed to pursuing opportunities with First Nation businesses needing engineering, project and construction management services and expertise. In October 2020, March was awarded the Project Management Institute – North SK’s Project of the Year award for the recently completed Woodland Wellness Centre project in Air Ronge. March’s plans for 2023 include pursuing opportunities with First Nations to provide EPCM services to improve infrastructure – from new office buildings to multi-purpose health and wellness facilities.

To hire the right people for potash, infrastructure, and beyond, March believes in investing in local talent, especially Indigenous peoples pursuing new careers in STEM.

“Building Indigenous talent in STEM is crucial to ensuring local people can participate in projects in their communities,” says Malhotra. “We will continue to build relationships and provide training and mentorship opportunities to make sure people from the community are able to meet their career goals and play integral roles in the projects located in their own backyards.”

Interested in a career with March Consulting? Visit to learn more.

Prince Albert Photocopier Ltd. acquired by majority Indigenous-owned investment company, Optek Solutions LP

September 14, 2022, Prince Albert, SK. — Optek Solutions LP (Optek), an IT Services company that is owned by Athabasca Basin Development, Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies, and Kitsaki Management as well as Aebig Investments, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Prince Albert Photocopier Ltd (PAP).

PAP is a full-service IT solutions business and long-standing Ricoh Canada dealer serving the central and northern Saskatchewan market and is considered the market share leader in the area. PAP collaborates with customers of all sizes and complexities to help determine their physical and digital infrastructure requirements to optimize their operations and simplify the management of their IT systems.

Optek provides IT services, support and solutions to organizations of all sizes across Saskatchewan. Optek was started by Athabasca Basin Development, Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies and Kevin Aebig, the company’s CEO, in 2021. Kitsaki joined ownership of Optek in June 2022 as part of the deal to acquire PAP. “As a group, we are very excited to work together to acquire PAP and build on the excellent foundation established nearly 30 years ago by Dan Fenton and Carolyn Fenton,” said Geoff Gay, CEO of Athabasca Basin Development and a representative of the ownership group. “As investors, when we looked at PAP, we all saw a successful, established business and we look forward to supporting the company as it continues to provide excellent service to their customers.”

Dan Fenton will stay on during the company’s transition. “Athabasca Basin Development, Kitsaki Management, and Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies are three very successful Indigenous-owned investment groups based here in Saskatchewan that collectively own over 35 businesses, including an IT Services company whose leader has decades of experience in IT,” said Dan. “Carolyn and I felt this was the right group to take good care of the company and help take it to the next level.”

PAP has 16 employees and will be headed by Kevin Aebig, the CEO of Optek, once the transition is complete. “This is a very exciting opportunity for everyone,” said Kevin. “PAP is a solid, established business with a strong track record of providing service to a huge geographical area. PAP is a growing company in a growing sector and the focus for all of us is in taking care of customers and employees and continuing the spirit of the legacy that was established. I look forward to working with Dan and the employees to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.”

Meet Kitsaki’s New CEO Ron Hyggen

The concept of lifelong learning is more than just a philosophy for Ron; it’s engrained into nearly everything he does.

Born in Swift Current, Ron and his family moved to Prince Albert, and then Saskatoon, where he spent most of his younger years.

“My parents wanted to live near a university. Neither of them had gone, and they wanted us to have that chance,” he says. “Once my two sisters and I were all in elementary school, my Mom went back and got her degree in education and she recently did her masters.”

After graduating with his B.Ed and wanting to make some money over the summer before he started teaching, Ron applied for an IT job with SIGA – an opportunity that would lead him to adjust his career plans.

“A month into it, my manager asked if I would stay on as Help Desk Manager,” he says. “While I was there to gain experience in IT, what I really learned was how to manage projects. I’m a planner – I like to have Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C, and to write and communicating those plans, so project management was a good fit for me.”

Ron was soon promoted to HR Manager of Information Systems and then Director of HR & Business Planning, where he focused on compliance, learning all aspects of SIGA’s business, including marketing, human resources, IT, finance, payroll, and operations. He quickly discovered that he enjoyed the work involved with business planning and designing and implementing effective policies and systems that promoted positive organizational change.

“I was process driven, you know, ‘walk me through how you do this,’ and then I’d map and systemize the processes, train staff on the systems, and deploy,” he says. “I liked the problem solving, and I got to do things at my pace, which is always fast.”

Ron earned his project management designation and moved on to a position with Deloitte, where he worked on global systems

implementation for many different businesses. From there, he took a job as VP of Business Development with Athabasca Basin Security (ABS) and was named its CEO a few months later. ABS took on an Alberta-based acquisition during Ron’s leadership as it expanded operations across the western Canada, growing from 26 employees to a workforce of over 300 with significant Indigenous employment numbers. In 2018, ABS made the 2018 Canada Business Growth 500 list as one of the country’s fastest growing companies.


Ron joined Kitsaki as Chief Operating Officer in June 2021. He was appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer this July – a role he takes on with great pride.

“It’s a real honour to serve my community as CEO,” he says. “Having the opportunity to work with the team this past year has been extremely valuable. I see so much opportunity ahead for Kitsaki, a testament to all the hard work of Russell, the board, and our past leaders.”

Ron’s connection to Kitsaki and his community is strong – his great uncle, Chief Myles Venne, was the leader who founded Kitsaki in 1981.

“I spent most summers up in Sucker River with my kohkom and nimosom, helping them haul water, cut wood, and check nets,” he says. “We had a big crew of cousins and spent lots of time on the water, at the ball diamond, camping and walking to Wadin Bay for ice cream.”

When it comes to supporting Kitsaki and every asset under its umbrella, Ron says he sees nothing but good things for the company.

“Kitsaki will be completing a number of acquisitions this year that will diversify our portfolio even further,” he says. “We’re at the beginning of a real growth phase, and it’s really exciting tobeapartofit.

LaRoche McDonald Acquisition

Effective July 1st, 2022, Kitsaki Management Limited Partnership (“Kitsaki”) has acquired 100% of the shares of LaRoche McDonald Agencies Limited (“LaRoche”), a general insurance and property management firm based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“At Kitsaki, we are focused on long-term, sustainable businesses,” says Ron Hyggen, Kitsaki CEO. “The pandemic further highlighted the importance of a diverse investment portfolio. While many industries struggled, we saw an opportunity to further expand into the insurance market. LaRoche has a century of experience, a dedicated team, and a strong track record of excellence.”

Based in Saskatoon, LaRoche first began operations in 1933. The firm provides residential, commercial, and auto insurance to a wide range of clientele. LaRoche also provides property management services for condo corporations, apartment buildings, and commercial properties across the city. At the time of acquisition, the company was owned by Jason Dunn and Keith Klassen. Both owners will stay on as managers to ensure “business as usual”, to facilitate growth, and to complete the transition of operations to Kitsaki. Jason and Keith had this to say: “We are excited to be part of the
Kitsaki family. Insurance and property management are relationship businesses that thrive by building client trust through dedicated and expert service. These ideals coincide with core Kitsaki operating principles, and that is what made joining the group so attractive to us.”

“Kitsaki has participated in this sector to some extent with First Nations Insurance Services since the late 1980s,” says Hyggen. “LaRoche provides a great opportunity to provide related services to a new book of clients and has potential for growth not just in Western Canada, but nationally. We look forward to working with Jason, Keith, and the rest of the LaRoche team.”

Ice Road Trucking with NRT

NRT Ice Roads

Winter is nearly over and Northern Resource Trucking enjoyed another good season of Ice Road Trucking.

This time of year at NRT is always busy. Steady runs into the uranium mines keep the regular fleet running steady. When the mills are in operation, the mines tend to be busy with all their usual bulk and freight orders. Propane trucks are going full tilt to keep up with cold-weather demands, too.

On top of this, icy weather means icy roads—the ice road for SSR Mining Inc.’s Seabee Gold Operation in particular. Because of Seabee’s remote location, supplies must be flown in during spring, summer, and fall months, which is very expensive. So the mine tries to get in as much of its non-perishable supplies during the winter ice road season to save costs. That means NRT’s ice road dispatchers and drivers are working full tilt to get those loads organized and delivered on time!

The ice road is such a staple of the season with NRT that it is easy to take for granted. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make each season safe and successful.
“First, SSR Mining sends someone out on a Skidoo to plot the road’s course,” NRT President Dave McIlmoyl explains. “When the ice is thick enough to support the weight of their Snow Cats they blade the snow off the ice to make the road one hundred feet wide.”

Removing the snow actually helps the ice build faster and stronger. Thick snow creates a blanket of insulation that slows the freezing process and can result in softer ice. Once the ice is exposed, the cold is better able to penetrate and the road hardens up. When the ice is thick enough, plow trucks and graders maintain the road. This traffic actually helps to build the ice, too.

NRT measures the ice thickness and determines when it is safe to put their trucks on the road. Although the road into Seabee is a private road, SSR Mining and NRT follow the same system as provincial and territorial governments of Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories to determine the thickness of the ice. Thirty inches of clear, blue ice is required to haul a maximum of 80,000 lbs of gross vehicle weight.

In past years, NRT sent a half-ton truck, two men, and a chainsaw out to do plunge cut testing in the middle and outer edges of the road. These cuts were made every 500 meters. This would be done multiple times so that every 100 meters of the road was tested by the end of the season.

This year, NRT has invested in a new ground penetrating radar system. The radar system is housed inside a plastic toboggan that can be pulled behind a Skidoo or pick-up truck. It sends a beam straight down which bounces back when it hits the water. This information is sent via Bluetooth to an industrial strength tablet computer designed to operate in extreme conditions. If the radar system detects any variations in the ice thickness, a manual plunge test is conducted with the chainsaw in order to verify the results.

These radar systems—built and designed by Sensors & Software Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario—are used around the world including ice roads in northern Europe and Russia as well as in northern Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

The 2020 ice road season began on February 7th, starting with loads of 60,000 lbs (gross vehicle weights) on 28 inches of ice. After one week of lighter loads, the ice has thickened enough to allow for fully loaded trucks to start crossing. Some years the ice has been ready in early January, but this doesn’t translate into a longer season.

“Our experience has been that the earlier you start, the earlier the road goes out,” McIlmoyl says. “The later you start, the later the road goes out. For some reason, the ice only seems to last six to eight weeks.”

Safety is of paramount importance to both NRT and SSR Mining, so every measure is taken to ensure that drivers, equipment, and cargo make it through the season in one piece. Ice marshals patrol the ice all season and trucks convoy in and out of the mine, communicating via radio.

Loaded trucks are only able to travel at 15 km/hr and unloaded trucks at 25 km/hr on the ice. Outgoing trucks must wait on site or on the portages until incoming trucks are off the ice to avoid having trucks meet in the middle of the lake.

Typically, ice road work is finished by the end of March. Closer to spring, the road becomes much more difficult to maintain, though. Muskegs and springs start to flow which can cause overflow onto the ice, or the ice recedes from the shore. Portages can also become too soft and rutted in the strong spring sunshine.

“On an ice road, you don’t get any prizes for pushing the limits,” McIlmoyl says. NRT’s ice road policies are designed with that in mind.

Unearthing and Preserving Heritage Resources in Saskatchewan

Cannorth_Preserving Heritage

With eight staff members in full- and part-time capacities, CanNorth’s heritage division boasts the largest heritage department in the province with the most permit holders based out of Saskatchewan. Indeed, CanNorth’s industrious archaeologists are making an impact within the company itself and within the broader archaeological community.

Each of the eight archaeologists specializes in a unique area of research, and CanNorth’s heritage department retains professionals in Precontact period archaeology of Northern Saskatchewan, Precontact period archaeology in Southern Saskatchewan, Historic period archaeology in Saskatchewan, Historic period archaeology (with a focus on Stanley Mission) in Northern Saskatchewan, Fur-trade period archaeology, archaeological analysis, WWII karst cave archaeology in Micronesia, and dendrochronology, the scientific method of dating trees, in the Northwest Territories.

The CanNorth heritage division has held approximately 250 provincial (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) and federal (Parks Canada) permits since its inception in 2011, and the preservation and protection of cultural and heritage resources in Saskatchewan remains the highest priority for these archaeologists when conducting heritage assessments for developments in this province. CanNorth’s heritage department has successfully completed heritage assessments throughout Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. Past and present clients include First Nations, environmental companies, oil and gas sector companies, forestry sector companies, mining sector companies, engineering companies, Crown companies, urban and rural municipalities, and subdivisions.

CanNorth archaeologists have undertaken many interesting projects in the past nine years, but three projects in particular stand out for their uniqueness and heritage interest: an excavation for a major oil and gas pipeline on the South Saskatchewan River; the Chief Mistawasis Bridge work near Wanuskewin that unearthed oversized bison skulls; and the Traffic Bridge work near downtown Saskatoon that uncovered a number of artifacts from the S.S. City of Medicine Hat.

The archaeology of the excavation along the South Saskatchewan River in the summer/fall of 2015 turned up over 4,000 artifacts, and although most of the artifacts were quite modest, CanNorth archaeologists gained interesting historical information from these findings. This project involved a large excavation of approximately 100 square meters to a depth of approximately 1.5 m. The goal of the excavation was to collect interpretive scientific data regarding the site through controlled excavation and then to document heritage resources and their context. The site was meticulously excavated using shovels, pointing trowels, and brushes, and the excavated soils were screened through a quarter-inch mesh screen. CanNorth archaeologists interpreted that the site consisted of a Late Precontact period campsite (from approximately 2,000 to 170 years ago) where pottery was used (actual finger prints of the craftsperson were discovered on the pottery itself). The South Saskatchewan River, which paralleled the excavation site, was a source of an important toolstone found near the site (e.g., silicified peat and petrified wood). Archaeologists suspect that at least one of the important activities at this site was the procurement of this stone.

The Chief Mistawasis Bridge work near Wanuskewin in 2016 included the discovery of skulls of an extinct species of bison that measured roughly 33% larger than modern bison. The bison species is either bison antiquus or bison occidentalis, as the skulls show characteristic features of each species. One theory is that the skulls represent the evolutionary transition between the two species. Another hypothesis is that the skulls actually represent a uniquely Saskatchewan/Saskatoonian population that was genetically different from other populations of extinct bison, as the skulls were larger than those expected to be found in bison occidentalis (in the range of bison antiquus) but the spread of the horn core (tip to tip) resembles the species bison occidentalis. If the skulls are bison antiquus, which is how the province’s paleontologists are interpreting the findings, they are over 10,000 years old; if they are bison occidentalis, they date between 11,000 to 5,000 years old. At any rate, the skulls represent an extinct form of bison that roamed in what is now Saskatchewan a very long time ago. The skulls can be found on display in the T. rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, Saskatchewan. Although archaeologists did not find any evidence that the bison unearthed near the Chief Mistawasis Bridge were killed by local First Nations, there is a nearby site in the North Park/Richmond Heights community in Saskatoon that suggests that people represented by the Clovis archaeological culture (dated to 11,300 to 10,900 years ago) were around to hunt these very big bison.

The Traffic Bridge work in downtown Saskatoon in the spring/summer of 2016 included the discovery of a number of artifacts from the S.S. City of Medicine Hat, detailed below. The tale of the wreck of the S.S. City of Medicine Hat belongs to Saskatchewan mythology. The S.S. City of Medicine Hat was a luxury steam-powered sternwheeler, which is a craft powered by a single rear paddle. Built by Scottish-born entrepreneur Captain Hamilton Horatio Ross from 1906 to 1907, the vessel measured 130 feet and was a true luxury craft. In the summer of 1908, Ross invited friends and family on a pleasure cruise on the sternwheeler that would follow the South Saskatchewan River from Medicine Hat, Alberta, to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The trip was a success until the party reached Saskatoon, which was experiencing particularly high runoff caused possibly by large quantities of meltwater from the Rocky Mountains. While most of the party was spending time in the city, Ross and one assistant tried to navigate the craft beneath the Traffic Bridge, and although Captain Ross had removed the steam pipes in an effort to clear the bridge, the vessel’s rudder actually became entangled on some cables invisible beneath the water. Captain Ross could not control the entangled vessel, and it hit the pier of the bridge and wrecked the craft. It should be noted that Captain Ross enjoyed entertaining and that the crew of the S.S. City of Medicine Hat were drinking heavily the night before.

Senior CanNorth archaeologists suggest that the “effects of alcohol, i.e., being hung-over or potentially still impaired, may have contributed to this serious error in judgement made by Captain Ross and the Crew of the of the S.S. City of Medicine Hat”. While there were no causalities in the event, the ship was abandoned. The wreck was still visible above the water mark in 1913 and then in an ever-growing sand bar long after that. Ultimately, the City of Saskatoon decided to cover the area with fill in 1960, creating Rotary Park. The Traffic Bridge closed in 2010 for reconstruction, and archaeological work was required during the summer of 2016 as a legislative requirement.

Some of the more notable artifacts recovered from the craft during CanNorth’s work in 2016 included a pistol and rifle cartridges, shotgun shells, and a diamond tipped glass cutter. Parts from an old outboard motor were also recovered still lubricated, which suggests that the outboard motor was intact prior to being damaged during the reconstruction of the Traffic Bridge. A small key was also recovered that CanNorth archaeologists theorize might belong to an upright music box that was salvaged immediately from the wreckage and which can be found in the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat. Perhaps one of the most interesting artifacts recovered was a ceramic plate bearing a maker’s mark. By researching the history and origin of the mark, CanNorth archaeologists determined that the ceramic plate belonged to the only ceramics collection in existence to bear that mark, which shows that the wares were commissioned specifically for Captain Ross’ navigational fleet—of which the S.S. City of Medicine Hat was a part. The ceramic fragment represented the smoking gun, as it were, proving that it originated from and belonged to the wrecked ship.

Through these interesting projects and many others, CanNorth archaeologists are ensuring that Saskatchewan’s rich and diverse archaeological resources are preserved for generations to come.

Athabasca Catering and First Nations Insurance move into new office space

Athabasca Catering Limited Partnership (ACLP) has moved into renovated facilities on reserve at 103 Packham Avenue.

ACLP managing director Alan Cole says the new, 7,000 square foot office space is “absolutely phenomenal.”

“We’ve spent a significant amount of capital investment in renovating it,” Cole said. “We completely gutted it and redesigned it. We put in modular walls, built a 16-seat boardroom. We have the latest smart technology – like an 80-inch screen you can write on or send emails at the touch of a screen.”
They also made sure to address the needs of their workforce such a breakout area for customers, guests and staff to have their lunch along with a separate kitchen.

Five First Nations with Kitsaki as the managing partner own ACLP. The company provides food service, housekeeping, janitorial, mobilization and camp management services. Cole said they now have the ability and capacity to recruit, hire and retain employees that best serve the company’s strategic goals in diversifying into different business sectors.

Cole said the old space ACLP had occupied for the past nine years just didn’t fit with the company’s future. “It didn’t project the right image of where we need to be in terms of customers, suppliers and vendors and anybody else.” Cole said the new space gives a better representation of the work ACLP does.

“We do a superb job in what we do, but what we couldn’t do was showcase our standards and the image we wanted to project in the old office versus what we can do now. “It’s a fundamental shift for our company,” he said. Credit to the entire ACLP team, led by our Finance Director, Robert Cremers in making this huge move possible.

And with ACLP moving out of their old space last November, First Nations Insurance Services (FNIS) saw an opportunity to also make a move.

FNIS were looking for extra office space in anticipation of expanding its business over the next few years.

Greg Hanson, manager of business development with FNIS, said ACLP’s old space fit the bill and they moved in last December after doing major renovations. “It fits in with our three- to five-year strategy to grow. We need office space for new people to come on board as new hires.” FNIS now has five offices as opposed to two and also has a brand new boardroom.

Hanson said the space is needed because it is essential to add more people to the Saskatoon team. “We have clients closer to Saskatoon than Prince Albert (which also has an office) and we are looking to obtain clients that are in the southern part of the province.” Hanson said.

FNIS provides employee benefits for First Nations organizations and non First Nations organizations. FNIS currently has a total of 14 staff with three in the Saskatoon office. Hanson said he hopes to add another employee in Saskatoon in the near future. The new office is also conducive to walk in traffic. “We have street access and it is easier for our employer’s clients to come in and deal with their claim or ask us questions.”

FNIS has been in business since 1987 and Hanson said they want to make sure the company continues to grow in a sustainable way. And with the new office space they now have room to accommodate that growth. “We don’t want to miss the right opportunity when it comes along.”

NRT Diversifies into Manitoba

The slow down of the uranium mining industry in northern Saskatchewan has been difficult for the businesses that depend upon mining companies as major clients. Northern Resource Trucking is one of many companies that were forced to give their revenue streams a good hard look when Cameco closed their Rabbit Lake, Key Lake, and McArthur River operations. While a full recovery is expected, the timeline remains fuzzy. In the meantime, NRT needed to diversify in order to protect itself from the ebbs and flows of a single industry.

Around the same time as Cameco’s closures, the New Gold mine near Emo, Ontario was under construction. NRT formed a limited partnership with the Big Grassy River First Nation from Morson, Ontario called Big Grassy Logistics Limited Partnership. BGL landed a contract hauling lime from Faulkner, Manitoba to the New Gold mine. Later, they added van loads, other chemicals, explosive emulsions, and propane to that list.

“It became evident that there was business in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario,” NRT President Dave McIlmoyl says. “And that it was going to be difficult to service that business from Saskatoon. We approached Trimac and rented office and yard space at one of their Winnipeg terminals in order to expand our operation in the east.”

NRT was also approached by a company called First Nations Mining Economic Development Corporation, which is owned by nine First Nations in northern Manitoba, about another partnership. Piwapisk Hauling Limited Partnership was formed by NRT and FNMEDC. Now all three companies share the Winnipeg terminal and Operations Manager, Dave Gravatt.

Through these new partnerships, NRT has expanded its operations and found business hauling chemicals from various producers in Winnipeg to a number of destinations in western Canada. The New Gold mine business has grown and NRT has been successful in getting work using the Winnipeg location. Currently, there are six NRT trucks and ten trailers stationed at the Manitoba terminal.

“Glen Ertell (VP of Operations) and I make regular trips to Winnipeg to find more work,” McIlmoyl says. “Our goal is to have ten trucks stationed in Winnipeg by the end of 2020.”

When the uranium industry picks back up and Cameco puts all its mines back online, NRT will be more than ready to take on their previous workload. However, now that the company has branched outside of the province, they have no plans to go back to being just a Saskatchewan operation.

“When you do really specialized work in a particular industry it’s easy to pigeon hole yourself,” McIlmoyl says. “We have learned that our specialized skills are easily adaptable to other provinces and other industries. We hope to continue to branch out and grow these skills as opportunities arise.”