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Misty Ventures

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Indigenous economic independence and business partnerships need to be part of Reconciliation in Canada. The Office of the Treaty Commissioner is featuring First Nations’ Economic Development.

Misty Ventures is the Economic Development branch of Mistawasis Nêhiyawak First Nation. The Office of the Treaty Commissioner sat with Misty Ventures President and CEO Robert Daniels to learn more about their work.

What is the mandate of Misty Ventures?
The mandate is to create revenue in order for Misty Ventures to operate.  The mandate is to create wealth and employment, training, opportunities, and partnerships. We couldn’t survive without our partners. We need revenue and how do you get revenue? You get work. And how do you get work? You work together.

What companies are Misty Ventures involved in?
HCC Group is a Saskatchewan-based corporation providing services in the Mining, Civil, and Mechanical Construction sectors

Misty Chemco is a multi-disciplinary industrial contractor providing construction and maintenance solutions across Southern Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Clifton Associates: an engineering, science, and technology company that provides technical solutions for problems involving soil, rock, water, and air.

Misty Burton Concrete is a company majority owned by Misty Ventures that handles all aspects of concrete work as well as a full range of gravel products. Other areas of expertise are fencing, excavating, site reclamation, environmental clean up, ICF construction and steel building supply and installation.

Misty Petroleum: a gas station and convenience store at Mistawasis Nêhiyawak First Nation

Misty Ventures Property Management: a company designed to manage commercial property being developed on reserve lands, with an expansion into snow removal, landscaping, and janitorial services.

Misty Ventures Storage and Containers: a company providing rentals and sales of portable storage bins.

What is the goal of the work?
The objective right now is looking at acquisitions of companies that are successful. Ideally, they would be built by a family, be that farms, be that businesses in the mining sector, were looking more at the supply chain side of construction, and not going in and starting from scratch, but taking that company to the next level.

When we talk about Reconciliation, we need to figure out how to work together. All of these partnerships and acquisitions we’ve made we don’t go in and clean house and start from scratch. We expect those people to come along with the company and stay within the organizations and assist us in the growth and training.

What does success look like for Misty Ventures?
We would like to be recognized in the next 20 years as just a company, so they no longer have to categorize us as an Aboriginal company, they just categorize us as successful. We don’t want to be awarded work simply because we are First Nations, we want to be awarded work because we are good at what we do. We want to get work based on our ethics, morals, values and quality.

As an Indigenous business are you seen differently in the business community?
I’ve had discussions with people that work in the mining industry and they say, ‘it’s frustrating that Aboriginal people get jobs just because they are Aboriginal. We as non-First Nations people worked very hard to get our foot in the door of the mining sector.’

We get labelled by people who are too aggressive, that use the political body to get work and that is not the message Misty Ventures is trying to send. We want to be awarded work because we have earned it, because we are qualified.

I find groups that are doing the work are afraid they are going to lose their contracts because they don’t have Indigenous engagement. If you have Indigenous procurement on your side you will be engaged and have an opportunity to bid. Those who refuse to have Aboriginal engagement feel strongly that they aren’t going to be able to have that opportunity.

There is a divide, I am not naive to it. But it is getting better. Companies are seeing that the more we get people to work, the more we work together, the stronger we will become because those people now have a sense a pride.

What are the lessons learned in the time of Misty Ventures?
What I’ve learned is to be patient. What I would tell other people getting into economic development is understand that a lot of people in our province just don’t know what it’s like to be First Nations. They don’t know what it’s like to live on a First Nations, to be unemployed, to have the social ills that we have in some of our communities, and the daily experiences.

A big lesson learned from my 94-year-old grandfather is you’ve got to get people to think outside the First Nation. You have to get along with everyone. There is going to be people that you will not like, there are going to be people that you absolutely love, there will be people you won’t trust. But the lesson to learn is not all people are bad, there is good people.

How much of what happens at Misty Ventures goes to support Mistawasis?
Within the first five years, there are going to be employment opportunities and there is going to be other opportunities that can offset some of the cost of own-source revenues in the community.
Once that own source revenue gets to a certain point, that’s when you give back to the nation in capital projects.

Any other advice?
I want to send a message to people to not give up. Ask questions, talk to people. We’ve got to work together to keep us stronger.

*Answers have been condensed and edited for clarity

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