Aboriginal Private Sector Business Category

2016 Aboriginal Private Sector Business Economic Developer of the Year Award Winner

Birch Mountain Enterprises Ltd., AB

Chris WilsonWith nearly a decade in business and over 250 employees, Birch Mountain Enterprises (BNE), is a proven and dependable fluid handling and steaming specialist in the Fort McKay area. Specializing in safety and service, the 3 cofounders and owners of the company know the importance of giving back to the community and supporting Indigenous programs, employees and business.

Primarily serving Fort McMurray’s oil sands clients and area, they are proud to be local and Indigenously owned. With a 60% Indigenous employment rate, BME has created numerous jobs in the community. They utilize Indigenous-owned contractors when possible, they are members of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association and their mandate is to support children’s health and wellness programs in local Indigenous communities.

Thanks to the generosity of BME, Fort McKay has been able to offer amazing educational, sports, health and wellness programs for youth in the community. The Fort McKay Wellness Director is quoted in saying, “it has helped a lot of our kids to progress in their communication skills in addition to having fun!”  Since 2011, BME has been a huge supporter of the community hockey program, resulting in a very successful program with over 80 youth playing the sport.

BME was a great support to the community during the wildfire catastrophe that hit the region in May 2016; they donated truckloads of groceries and supplies to evacuees. BME is constantly striving to touch the lives of their community members and give back in any way they can.

BME is innovative and this is clear with their new Wastewater Treatment Plant project.  Their goal is to be the go-to company for these types of services and they hope to streamline their services on hauling sewage, sewage processing, bio solids management and certified laboratory services. This project will also create new job opportunities for community members, increasing the overall well being in the community. BME is committed to environmental sustainability and everything they do is viewed through a lens of reducing environmental pollution.

BME comes from humble roots and demonstrates that with all that they do. They are extremely deserving of this award and are a great example of a thriving company that puts community and people first.

2016 Aboriginal Private Sector Business Economic Developer of the Year Award Recognition Recipient

Denendeh Helicopters Ltd., NT

Denendeh HelicoptersIn 1998, Denendeh Helicopters came to be through a partnership with K’atlodeeche First Nation of the Hay River Reserve, Deh Gah Gotie First Nation of Fort Providence and Great Slave Helicopters (GSH) of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. This Indigenous-owned and operated helicopter company is the first of it’s kind in the region, and the largest Indigenous helicopter company in Canada. The partnership is led under the leadership of Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge, Chief Roy Fabian and Director Chris Bassett, President of GSH.

Based in Hay River along with a satellite base in Yellowknife, Denendeh Helicopters owns four helicopters in total, and is able to access more equipment, pilots and aircraft maintenance through their partnership with GSH as needed.  They are ideally positioned to meet the helicopter service needs of companies and public organizations involved in infrastructure planning and development, wildlife surveys, search and rescue missions, mineral and mining activities, and oil and gas exploration.

Denendeh holds itself to the highest audit standards in the helicopter industry, with a commitment to flight safety that exceeds regulatory standards. They have up-to-date flight data and cockpit monitoring systems as well as flight simulator training available to ensure they are up to standards and using the latest technology.

They are committed to supporting their local community and protecting traditional lands. They continue to pursue new partnerships, with intentions of mutually beneficial, long-term business relationships. Denendeh has faced challenges over the past year due to the downturn in the Canadian economy, but continues to be innovative in their field and is optimistic about new opportunities and future business.

Denendeh along with GSH is a key supporter of the Aviation Career Development Program Bursary, which contributes up to $40,000 per year to eight students’ educational pursuits from the Northwest Territories. They also contribute to multiple scholarship programs and initiatives, including a $2,000 youth infrastructure grant and $1,000 contribution to women’s wellness program. Denendeh recognizes the importance of preserving Indigenous culture and donates a substantial amount of flying time each year towards cultural hunts and activities.

Denendeh continuously provides dedicated forest fire suppression and support services to the Forest Management Division of Environment and Natural Resources. Their work fosters a sense of pride throughout the community, with residents, businesses and properties knowing they are safe from the dangerous forest fires in the Hay River area.

Denendeh is a wonderful example of Indigenous business that comes from deep roots and good values. The company is thriving and will continue to do so with their great customer service and important work.

Past Aboriginal Private Sector Business Category Winners

2015 - Spirit Staffing & Consulting Inc.

2014 - Acosys Consulting Services
2013 - Erasmus Apparel
2012 - Abenaki Associates
2011 - Neechie Gear

2010 - Tribal Wi-Chi-Way-Win Capital Corporation
2009 - Gespe’gewaq Mi’gmaq Resource Council
2008 - Cree Regional Economic Enterprises Company