Prosperous Partnerships

*This story was originally published in the 40th-anniversary issue of CCAB’s Aboriginal Business Report.

Steering through challenges: Malhotra’s journey to the top at March

In 2012, an engineering manager at a well-established electrical engineering firm found herself at a career crossroads when approached for the position of Director, Power and Controls at March Consulting Associates Inc. (March). After numerous discussions with the then CEO and her family, Ritu Malhotra decided to take on the new challenge.

Upon joining March, she immediately dove into managing a large team for two significant projects that spanned the next few years. By 2015, as the current leadership neared retirement, she was presented with the opportunity to step into a larger leadership role as the Vice President of Operations. This promotion came at a time when the Saskatchewan mining and heavy industrial sector was facing an economic downturn, making the subsequent years quite turbulent for the industry.

Then, in 2017, she was asked to take the helm of March, transitioning to the role of President and CEO by 2018. Under Malhotra’s leadership, along with the resilient March team, the company not only weathered the downturn but grew its client base, leading to significant growth. Over the past five years, March has opened two additional office locations and achieved almost 300 per cent growth in revenue.

Reflecting on her journey, Malhotra shared that the key lessons she’s learned are the importance of seizing opportunities and making tough decisions, even when the timing may not seem perfect. Her values play a crucial role in guiding her decisions, emphasizing “that standing firm on one’s values is a cornerstone for success, no matter the situation.”

When Malhotra transitioned into the CEO role with March, a new set of challenges arose, particularly around ensuring the company’s financial sustainability during another industry-wide downturn. With the collective effort of the March team, they rebuilt the business piece by piece, laying the foundation for the robust organization that March is today.

The pandemic, undoubtedly a challenging period, also highlighted the strength and unity of the March team. “Their ability to adapt and continue growing during such an unprecedented time is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career journey thus far,” she says.

Malhotra’s work goes beyond March, as the Chair of the Board for the Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association (SIMSA), bringing her expertise and vision to an organization pivotal to the province’s industrial and mining sectors. She is a valued member of the Boards of SaskTel and Karnalyte Resources, contributing to their strategic direction, and she also brings her insights to the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA), fostering the local business community.

Malhotra’s tenure on the University of Saskatchewan’s Board of Governors from 2017 to 2023 is a chapter that not only exemplifies her governance expertise but also showcases her capacity to drive meaningful progress. As the Chair of the Land and Facilities committee, she was instrumental in steering pivotal infrastructure and planning initiatives.

“If I had to pick one key initiative that I am proud of as Chair of the Land and Facilities committee, it was the initiation and creation of the USask Properties Land Trust, which guides the long-term strategy to develop a new source of revenue for the university.”

Kitsaki’s 2023 Annual Impact Report

Our 2023 Annual Impact Report is here, showcasing how Kitsaki and its group of companies are creating opportunities through sustainable growth.

This document is a testament to the resilience, innovation, and collaborative spirit that has driven Kitsaki through a remarkable journey of growth and community impact.

You can find the entire report below.

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

Find out more at

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.

North and South: CanNorth participates in Community-Building Program in Columbia


CanNorth’s Community Programs Division Manager, Ryan Froess, specializes in community-based environmental monitoring programs as well as in cultivating working relationships between industry, government, First Nations, and communities. At the end of November 2019, Ryan received an opportunity to put his skills into action when he, representing CanNorth, was invited by Agriteam Canada (Agriteam) to share his experiences and knowledge of community-based environmental monitoring programs in Canada and to participate in a multi-faceted project in Colombia called the Building Extractive Sector Governance in Colombia (BESG) program.

The BESG program is a five-year project (2015-2020) funded by Global Affairs Canada with the goal of supporting local communities and sustainable socio-economic development related to the extractive sector industry in Colombia. The project seeks to “build capacity of the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MinMinas), mining agencies, and mining authorities within departments and municipalities to develop and implement strengthened policy and regulatory frameworks, improve extractive sector planning and implementation, and increase public sector engagement with communities impacted by natural resource extraction” ( The project works to build trust between local community members and the extractive industries by engaging members in the various processes related to water quality monitoring in their regions.

Agriteam is a Canadian-based international development firm with over 450 completed projects worldwide and a global presence with field offices in Honduras, Peru, Colombia, Mongolia, Ukraine, Vietnam, South Sudan, Tanzania, Mali, and Ethiopia. Agriteam’s mission is to be “catalysts of change and opportunity, to be leaders and partners in international development, providing our best people and expertise to contribute to sustainable economic, social and environmental development” (

During his five-day visit to Columbia, Ryan presented a talk to a federal-regional water symposium and then participated in a workshop, offering his experience related to mining and community-based water monitoring in Canadian communities. Ryan shared his experiences of working with three different types of community-based water quality monitoring programs in Saskatchewan, including the Ya Thi Nene community based environmental monitoring program (CMEMP); the Eastern Athabasca Regional Monitoring Program (EARMP); and the Athabasca Working Group (AWG) Environmental Monitoring Program. The presentation offered a Canadian perspective and highlighted the success of community-based water quality monitoring programs in the mining industry in Saskatchewan. Key topics included best practices, methods of connecting with and hiring community members, as well as other topics related to environmental monitoring at a community level.

Ryan also visited several communities in the Putumayo region where he participated in community workshops and delivered further presentations about his experiences in northern Saskatchewan on how communities become involved in water monitoring, either with industrial partners, with governments, or on their own. Ryan also appreciated absorbing valuable and informative talks by Agriteam members and guests concerning training efforts related to environmental monitoring in local communities, gender roles in environmental stewardship, and the development of e-learning modules for participatory water quality monitoring. The audience members came from throughout the Putumayo region, some from as far as eight hours away, and included leaders from several rural communities, including indigenous communities.

For Ryan, this transnational, open exchange of information as well as his interactions with community members at the workshop were the most rewarding aspects of the trip: “Sharing our Canadian experiences with the people at the workshops was a very valuable learning experience. I was also able to learn new engagement approaches related to the extractive industry and how they operate within Colombia. They are doing some really great work related to maintaining and protecting the environment. I would love to take some of those grassroots initiatives and apply them here.”

The BESG program and Ryan’s sojourn to Colombia demonstrate that knowledge sharing breaks down boundaries between countries and nations and brings communities together through participation, contribution, and immersion.

CanNorth was grateful for the opportunity to work with Agriteam on their exciting and impactful project in Columbia and was honored to be invited to take part in the federal–regional workshop and in the community workshop on water quality monitoring. Ryan is eager to apply the many lessons from his experiences in Colombia and to continue to build capacity with communities and grow the community-based monitoring programs here in Saskatchewan and across Canada.

CanNorth Receives Perfect Score

You might notice that the staff at Canada North Environmental Services have a jump in their step these days.

Everyone at CanNorth is still riding high after the business received a perfect score of 100 per cent in a COR (Certificate of Recognition) audit last year conducted by Energy Safety Canada.

“It was pretty awesome and really spoke to the kind of staff we have at CanNorth,” says Lisa Folden, human resources manager at CanNorth’s office in Saskatoon. “We were pretty proud of the accomplishment.”
CanNorth is a private environmental consulting company which is wholly-owned by Kitsaki.

The process, which is totally voluntary for CanNorth, was challenging as it included an exhaustive review of policies, procedures, and documentation. That also included in-depth observation and interviews with a third of CanNorth’s staff, from top to bottom.

“Everything had to be checked and balanced,” Folden says.

Businesses that undergo the rigorous certification need 80 per cent to pass. For CanNorth to score 100 per cent is virtually unheard of, Folden was told.

The first time CanNorth was tested, in 2013, they achieved a 97 per cent score. But that was not good enough, Folden says. Management and staff truly wanted to do better, so they focussed on employee training and consistency in their documentation.

It worked. Evidently.

Folden was worried because the audit examination team was not letting on how well CanNorth was doing. What she didn’t realize was how good they were actually doing. But she’s not surprised.

When the final report was sent, Folden and the CanNorth staff were over the moon with some of the statements issued.

“The health and safety culture created and fostered at CanNorth provides the foundation for such amazing performance,” the report read. “Your bright and competent staff apply the established systems masterfully and allow for continuous improvement.”

Folden couldn’t agree more. “It’s a whole culture buy-in from our staff.”

The report went on to say CanNorth is a model organization and something other businesses should model themselves after.

“One hundred per cent commitment is apparent from the general manager to the newest hire.”

COR audits are highly regarded in the industry as proof of highly trained staff.

CanNorth, which also has another office based in Markham, Ontario., tries to utilize Indigenous culture in the communities it is involved in as well as employment and educational opportunities for Indigenous peoples.

Big Project for CanNorth

When a large and well-known conglomerate like Jacobs Engineering Group calls and asks for help, you don’t ask too many questions. You just say yes.

Canada North Environmental Services LP (CanNorth) has been subcontracted to work with Jacobs (formerly CH2M Hill) to complete the environmental work for portions of the Enbridge Inc. Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project that runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to Gretna, Manitoba.

“It’s huge,” says Jocelyn Howery, CanNorth’s hydrology division manager and the Enbridge Project Manager. “It’s definitely one of our biggest projects on the books this year.”

CanNorth will be working with Jacobs and the Enbridge environment team to ensure that the project’s impacts on the environment are mitigated. This work includes identifying nesting birds and rare plant occurrences along the pipeline right-of-way, conducting water quality monitoring during creek crossings, and completing archeological surveys.

“This is a very high-profile project and it’s exciting to be involved,” says Howery. As one of the biggest pipeline projects in the country, it is under great scrutiny by the National Energy Board.

With multiple locations along the line being worked on at once, as many as 10 CanNorth employees will be working on the project this year near Kerrobert and south of Regina.

A major aspect of the project is the involvement of local First Nations people. Last year, while the CanNorth team worked near Provost in Alberta, members of the Ermineskin First Nation worked alongside CanNorth’s trained biologists as field assistants. This partnership provided a valuable learning and training experience for locals who may want to enter the environmental field.

CanNorth has a staff of about 60 people, including staff at a risk assessment office in Markham, Ontario. The risk assessment division started in 2016. Of that number, Howery says there are 44 people who are professional environmental consultants, which makes CanNorth perhaps the largest environmental consulting firm in the province.