Teamwork results in national recognition for Ontario-based First Nations
By Sam Laskaris
Power line technician students in Supercom's training and employment program
Working alongside their peers towards common goals has paid off for six First Nations in northern Ontario.
In 2016 a half dozen First Nations, located along the shores of Lake Superior in northwestern Ontario, joined forces to establish a business partnership called Supercom Industries.
This partnership, which is frequently simply called Supercom, includes the Red Rock Indian Band, Fort William First Nation, Pays Plat First Nation, Michipicoten First Nation, Pic Mobert First Nation and Biigtigong Nishnaabeg.
In its short existence, Supercom has already established itself as a business which can inspire others.
And it’s also why Supercom is one of the two finalists for Cando’s Indigenous Private Sector Business award this year.
The winner and runner-up for this award will be announced at the Cando Conference, scheduled for Oct. 27-30 in Gatineau, Que.
Cando, the organization which promotes economic development in Indigenous communities across the country, stages its conference annually, in different locations throughout the country.
“It’s obviously good to be recognized,” said Matt Dupuis, the Red Rock Indian Band chief who is also Supercom’s chairman of the board. “It’s nice to see that Supercom has grown.”
Dupuis is also hoping other First Nations decide to work with neighbouring Indigenous communities and form their own business partnerships.
“Sometimes First Nations end up setting things up on their own,” he said. “We’re hoping it promotes the idea of working together with others.”
The six First Nations that comprise Supercom are situated along the route of the East-West Tie, a proposed massive transmission project that will connect lines between Thunder Bay and Wawa.
Supercom officials are hoping as many Indigenous people as possible from its six First Nations find some employment on this project, which is expected to commence in late October and continue for the next two and a half years.
To this end, Supercom undertook a $9.3 million employment and training plan in 2017, to assist those looking to improve their skills in order to eventually work on the East-West Tie project.
More than 300 individuals, the majority of them Indigenous, took part in the training and employment program. Many of them will be working on the East-West Tie in various capacities.
Dupuis would like to see Supercom line up additional initiatives in the future. He’s confident other economic development opportunities will present themselves after the transmission project is complete.
“That’s what we’re hoping for – to get any big infrastructure projects,” he said.