From Aquatic Biologist to Division Manager: Kelly Wells’ journey at CanNorth 

Joining Canada North Environmental Services (CanNorth) as an Aquatic Biologist was the dream job for Kelly Wells post-university, offering her summers in the field in Northern Saskatchewan.  

 Now, fast forward 22 years, Kelly stands as CanNorth’s Environment Division Manager, where she finds joy mentoring budding biologists. Moreover, she is pivotal in CanNorth’s operations and management teams. 

Even as a child, Wells had a clear vision: a career in the environmental field. Her summers were often spent at the family cottage, where she developed a love for fish biology and the tranquil waters. For Wells, the allure of a new adventure triumphs a desk job any day. 

During her early years, guidance came from a senior fisheries biologist, a colleague of her father. “I talked to her about consulting and the kind of work she did. She really inspired me to delve into consulting. I love the pace, the diversity, the blend of field and office work, and the applied science aspect,” she recalls. 

CanNorth emerged as the perfect fit for Wells. Beginning as a modest venture, the company grew conservatively. With only four employees when Wells joined in 2001, the scope of work was broad. “I learned quickly. From the start, I dove into cost estimates, project management, and client relations. But I also found myself mending fish nets and conducting fish surveys,” she recounts. It’s this diverse environment that sustained Wells’ interest in consulting over the years. 

Now, CanNorth boasts a family of 90 employees, with many women occupying senior positions, and their operations and management teams are predominantly women. I’m surrounded by competent, amazing women,” she beams. While Wells acknowledges the persisting challenges for women in the workplace, she’s found an egalitarian atmosphere at CanNorth. 

Being part of the Kitsaki group of companies significantly contributes to CanNorth’s triumphs, according to Wells, and garners various advantages. The entity’s Indigenous ownership attracts individuals keen on being part of such a unique establishment.  

“Kitsaki and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band are hugely supportive, with Chief Tammy Cook-Searson serving as a global role model for women,” she said. 

For Wells, the job has been a source of fantastic “moments”, especially her time spent in the north, around Lake Athabasca and Uranium City area. “I learned immensely from the locals, both on personal and professional fronts… I fell in love with Northern Saskatchewan, the lake, and the remoteness,” she reminisces. 

Looking back, what captivated her as a child hinted at her destined path. She opted for a boutique company like CanNorth with robust leadership, sustainable hiring practices, room for growth, and a varied workload. And she has never looked back since. 

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.”

Prudence McKenzie: Paving Progress at PLATO

Portrait of a woman with a warm smile, in her 40s. She has short, curly dark hair and fair skin with subtle freckles. She is wearing a black top and is inside a room with wooden paneling in the background. The lighting is soft and natural, highlighting her friendly demeanor.

The spring of 2023 was the start of a new chapter for Prudence McKenzie when she stepped into the room where PLATO Testing was launching its software tester training program in Prince Albert.

“At the kick-off, PLATO co-founder Denis Carignan. was introducing me to some of the PLATO staff, and I heard more about the training, said McKenzie.  “I was impressed by how PLATO was answering the Call to Action 92 from the Truth and Reconciliation by ensuring Indigenous people have access to jobs, training and education.”

After a few months of reflection, Prudence made a pivotal choice. She left her longstanding position with the Federal Government to join forces with PLATO, driven by a mission that resonated deeply with her: “Changing our world by building a stronger, more inclusive technology workforce.”

Walking away from the security of her federal role to embrace the unknown at PLATO was challenging for McKenzie, but the transition also marked her best decision. “The best decision I made was to accept this new and exciting position with Plato, I had the opportunity to leave the workforce completely but decided to stay and see how this role can benefit PLATO and my own personal career growth.”

In her journey, Prudence has confronted and navigated many barriers that women in leadership face, however, she’s stood firm in the belief that women are essential to steering us through adversity.  “I was told that women are the ones to lead us out of difficult times and we are seeing that,” said McKenzie.

When asked if there was a greatest moment in her career serving as an RCMP officer or during the past 27 years with Indigenous Services Canada, she noted, “There isn’t a defining moment but more of a realization that all my life experiences have made me the person I am today, and these lessons and skills that I have gained can be used to help others.”

Now, as the Indigenous Resource Advisor with PLATO, she takes pride in every chance to guide students and interns through their transitions into the classroom and workplace. Whether offering advice, lending a listening ear, or providing resources, she thrives on the variety each day brings.

The excitement she holds for her position at PLATO is evident. “It’s not just a job; it’s a chance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, to be the support they need in times of transition, and to embrace the uniqueness of each new day. “

Two decades of growth at AGI with Andrea Harrabek

A happy family of five posing for a photo outdoors at dusk. From left to right: a young woman in a navy blue dress, a man in a white shirt and black tie, a young boy in a white shirt and gray trousers, a young woman in an embellished gray gown, and a woman in a navy blue dress with a tied waist. They are standing on a gravel path with trees and a soft sunset in the background, all smiling at the camera.

When Andrea Harrabek stepped into the role of AGI receptionist in August 2001, she had no idea it would grow into the dynamic, fulfilling career she has enjoyed for the last 22 years.

“Looking at the date now, it seems like a VERY long time,” she laughs.

Harrabek’s journey with AGI mirrors the growth and evolution of the company. Each role she has taken on has been a building block for the next, as she has embraced new challenges with enthusiasm and expertise.

Today, she is AGI’s Office Manager.

“I wear a lot of hats in this position,” Harrabek says. “Quality assurance, design coordination for a team of seven drafters and five engineers-in-training, document control for all projects, client relations, project coordinator assistant…and then, of course, the general office managerial duties. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but I LOVE it!”

Harrabek says her organizational and prioritization skills have played a key role in her success, crucial to her ability to manage AGI’s diverse and constant flow of projects.

“This is a crazy busy place,” Harrabek says. “No day – and no tank – is ever the same. It keeps us on our toes!”

Known for going “with the flow,” Harrabek juggles whatever comes her way while always prioritizing the client. She says she hasn’t struggled with decisions or barriers because Jeff and Wade Burton have created a supportive culture and a cooperative, inclusive environment with fair treatment and equal opportunities for all employees, including women.

“We all try to work together to get the job done,” she says. 

Away from AGI, Harrabek is a mother to three incredible children, grateful for AGI’s support of work-life balance.

“Field trips, activities — AGI has given me the flexibility to be involved in all those important moments,” she says. “You know, it goes by fast, and I really appreciate being able to have a career and also to be present with my family.”

Meet Sienna McKenzie, Kitsaki’s Co-op Student

A portrait of a smiling woman standing outdoors with a historical stone building in the background. She has shoulder-length brown hair with soft waves and is wearing a black cardigan over a beige top. The woman appears confident and approachable, with a friendly and warm expression.

Q: Tell us about your journey, what led you to your area of study for post-secondary, and when did you decide Kitsaki was where you wanted to be?
A: My journey started in Stanley Mission and then moved to Air Ronge, where I finished high school. I was always involved, like being the football medic and working with Special Olympics – La Ronge. In 2021, I started studying Commerce in Marketing at Northlands College, and later, I moved to Saskatoon for the Edwards School of Business. While there, I also started studying for an Indigenous Governance and Politics Certificate. I’m part of the Indigenous Business Student Society, helping organize events. I’m also in the Cooperative Education Program, aiming to work at Kitsaki.

When I started university, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I liked Commerce and connecting with people. I also wanted to work for my community. Growing up, I always heard about Kitsaki and saw their ads but didn’t know much about what they did. Learning about Indigenous Business in Canada at university, I understood how important companies like Kitsaki are for community support. That’s why I became interested in Economic Development. The Cando Economic Development Indigenous Youth Summit I attended this summer really confirmed my interest in this field. I want to make a difference in my community like the professionals I met there.

Q: What are you most excited about in your new role?
A: I’m really excited about working for my community and knowing that my work will help improve people’s lives. I’m looking forward to learning from the experienced people at Kitsaki and building relationships within the communities. It’s great to learn about marketing in an environment that I’m
comfortable with and where I want to be in the future. I’m also happy to learn things during my coop placement that will help me and the communities in the long run.

Q: What are your goals when you are finished school?
A: After school, I plan to work in a city marketing position for a few years. Then, I want to move back to La Ronge and start building my life there. I hope to keep working with Kitsaki after my coop term. I also want to keep volunteering with Special Olympics in La Ronge and look for other ways to help in the community. My main goal is to help Indigenous youth from Lac La Ronge show what we can do to the world.

When I have more time, I’d love to get a dog, have a big garden, and maybe some pet chickens.

Sienna’s first day is January 10, 2024 and she will spend her time between Kitsaki’s offices in Saskatoon and La Ronge.

Kitsaki News

Cover of Kitsaki News December 2023 issue. The headline 'The Future is Bright — Celebrating the Women Driving Growth & Change at Kitsaki' is prominently displayed at the top. Below, a list of women's names is featured, each associated with a different organization or department within Kitsaki. The background image is a serene winter scene with a road stretching towards the horizon under a bright, clear sky, suggesting optimism and forward momentum. The Kitsaki Management Limited Partnership logo is at the bottom right.

Welcome to the December 2023 issue of Kitsaki News. In this edition, we shine a spotlight on the inspiring women leading the way in growth and change across our diverse group of companies. Join us in celebrating their achievements and exploring their stories.

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.

NRSI acquired by CanNorth, creating national leading environmental services provider

(SASKATOON/WATERLOO) Canada North Environmental Services (CanNorth) is excited to announce it has completed its acquisition of Natural Resource Solutions Inc. (NRSI), combining two of the industry’s top
environmental firms in Canada.

By joining forces with NRSI, the acquisition brings together two highly respected firms with complementary capabilities in the environmental consulting industry. This strategic integration significantly expands CanNorth’s team of experts with the addition of NRSI’s talented aquatic, wetland and terrestrial biologists, GIS specialists, and project managers. More importantly, it allows NRSI and CanNorth to extend their geographical reach and industry knowledge in new and exciting directions.

“The acquisition between CanNorth and NRSI allows us to focus on leveraging the synergies between our two organizations to provide enhanced and expanded services to our clients,” said Peter Vanriel, General Manager of CanNorth. “By combining NRSI’s strengths in certain regions and sectors with CanNorth’s existing expertise, we will offer expanded capabilities and value. This union is about multiplying joint talents between two organizations to better serve client needs nationwide.”

“The acquisition of NRSI under CanNorth demonstrates our commitment to expanding Kitsaki’s portfolio and creating new opportunities for growth,” said Kitsaki’s CEO Ron Hyggen. “It is a significant step forward as we believe this move will continue to create economic opportunities an
benefits for the many communities we serve.”

“By coming together with CanNorth, we can achieve more for our clients and employees,” said Elaine Gosnell, Senior Terrestrial and Wetland Biologist with NRSI and owner. “We are very pleased that this new ownership will provide long-term sustainability to NRSI, its people, clients, and relationships, and we are thrilled to become an Indigenous-owned company.

“I am honoured to have assisted bringing these two exceptional environmental consulting companies together,” said David Stephenson, Senior Biologist with NRSI and owner. “Both have common goals, supporting, inspiring, and challenging our teams, providing service to our clients and the environment. Combining the companies under Indigenous ownership maintains and enhances our resilience, longevity, and expertise, as well as our services, sectors, and geographies.

NRSI will continue to operate from its head office in Waterloo with regional employees across Canada, and CanNorth will remain headquartered in Saskatoon.

For more information, please visit: or

For media interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Thoma
Director of Marketing and Communication
Kitsaki Management

Kitsaki Vegetation Services – ABEX Award Finalist

Black background with KVS in writing being named as a finalist

Kitsaki Vegetation Services (KVS) has been recognized for its commitment to diversity by being selected as a finalist for a Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce ABEX award

Considered one of Saskatchewan’s leading Vegetation Management companies, KVS supplies aerial tree trimming, right-of-way, brush clearing, dangerous tree removal, hand slashing, herbicide application, and consenting services to the utility industry. 

The ABEX awards, now in their 40th year, are the highest award for Saskatchewan business and celebrate the success of businesses and business leaders across the province. The finalists are chosen based on their impact on the industry and commitment to innovation, diversity, sustainability, and community involvement.

The winners will be announced at the ABEX Awards gala on September 16, 2023, at Prairieland Park (Hall A) in Saskatoon.

Click here to read the full news release with each of the finalists. 

First Nations insurance team expands services

LaRoche McDonald’s talent base has grown to meet the company’s commitment to supporting Indigenous business and enhance its service provision in the area of First Nations housing and commercial insurance.

“First Nations Specialists Cheryl Arcand, Mitchell Clouthier, and Joe Dasiuk are quoting and making presentations at First Nations across the province,” said Keith Klassen, Manager and General Insurance Broker. “It has been a very busy year so far, especially with so many policies renewing in April 2023. We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to become the insurance provider of choice for First Nations clients in Saskatchewan.”

Arcand and Cloutier joined LaRoche McDonald in 2022 and were joined by Dasiuk in January this year. Experts in the field, they are focused on expanding LaRoche McDonald’s First Nations insurance portfolio.

“It has been a very busy year so far and we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to become the insurance provider of choice for First Nations clients in Saskatchewan,” said Klassen.

At the main office in Saskatoon, MaryAnn Reifferscheid and Jazmine McCracken round out the specialized team with dedicated in-house support.

“Jazmine was hired at LaRoche McDonald in mid-2022 to assist with commercial insurance and First Nations insurance business. In her former job, she supervised personal lines insurance brokers and helped with their training. She was also the main person responsible for finding solutions for hard-to-place business. We are very pleased to have Jazmine on our team.”

“We recruited MaryAnn in early 2023 to assist us in looking after commercial and First Nations business. She was already working at LaRoche, but in personal insurance,” said Klassen. 

“MaryAnn and I worked together on First Nations business at another brokerage a number of years before I joined LaRoche, so I knew she would be a great fit. She has a strong background in both Personal and Commercial Insurance, and she has exceptional customer service skills.”

Established in 1933, LaRoche McDonald Agencies is a general insurance and property management firm based in Saskatoon that provides automobile, residential, and commercial insurance, and property management services. The company joined the Kitsaki Group in July 2022.

Think you’d be a great fit for a career with LaRoche McDonald? Please visit to learn more.