History of Kitsaki
Kitsaki Development Corporation (KDC) was created by Chief Myles Venne (Senator Myles Venne) and the Council of Lac La Ronge Indian Band in 1981, out of a desire to have more of a role in, and control of, regional economic development, and to provide a vehicle for band members to participate more fully in the wage economy. Leadership recognized that while the traditional economy was central to its peoples’ way of life, this area was becoming less viable as a sole source of support. They knew they needed to create opportunities and put LLRIB in a position where it could determine its own economic future.
From the beginning, KDC focused on goals of capacity building and self-sufficiency. This meant an emphasis on institution building, investing in sound business management principles, and creating an increasingly diverse portfolio that ensured activity in multiple sectors.
Chief Tom J. McKenzie carried on Chief Venne’s vision after 1985, continuing to diversify Kitsaki’s portfolio, and expanding investment into transportation and food processing. LLRIB’s first chief with a university degree, Chief McKenzie knew the importance of education and consistent, solid business leadership.
In 1987, Chief Harry Cook was elected and assumed the role of President of Kitsaki’s board. Kitsaki and Trimac formed Northern Resource Trucking Ltd. soon after. Dedicated to the principles of cooperation and hard work, Chief Cook maintained a high commitment to staff at both the band and at Kitsaki, while Kitsaki continued to diversity its portfolio. He believed in seizing opportunity, and always being ready to do so. Under Chief Cook’s leadership, many new businesses were started, employment opportunities for band members increased, and Kitsaki became recognized for its business contributions. In 1989, Kitsaki was named one of the 100 largest corporations in Saskatchewan.
Tammy Cook-Searson was elected LLRIB Councilor in 1997 and immediately took a special interest in economic development, educating herself on Kitsaki’s investments, and the sectors in which they operated. She traveled across Canada speaking about economic development, encouraging other First Nations to use it as a way to improve the lives of their members. Kitsaki Development Corporation (KDC) became Kitsaki Management Limited Partnership (KMLP) in 1999. In 2004, Cook-Searson was elected Chief, assuming the role of President of Kitsaki, and as an active board director of many of the businesses within its portfolio. Nearly two decades later, she continues her commitment to the development of long-term sustainable business and opportunities for LLRIB members.
Kitsaki has impacted the lives of thousands of people during its years of operation. The company employs over 600 full time employees and hundreds more on a seasonal basis. Over the years, the company has supported many community initiatives and charities, served millions of meals, trained hundreds of people, harvested millions of pounds of wild rice, participated in hundreds of community events, and more. Kitsaki’s employees are Cree, Dene, Dakota, Métis, and people descended from all parts of the world, working in nearly every sector.
Senator Myles Venne
Tom McKenzie & Chief Harry Cook
Tammy Cook-Searson & Chief Harry Cook
Kitsaki continues to look for expansion opportunities through the creation of new businesses or the acquisition of mid-sized successful businesses to further grow and diversify the Kitsaki portfolio.