First Nations businesses growing with Saskatchewan resource boom (Business Vancouver – by Joe Ralko (April 28, 2015)

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Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs embark on joint venture that provides services to the energy industry and trains workers for oilpatch jobs

A three-year agreement involving the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC) and Site Energy Services Ltd. (SES) is the latest example of how the boom in Saskatchewan’s resource sector is helping the growth of First Nations businesses.

First Alliance Energy Services is the name of the new entity expected to generate revenue in the millions of dollars from work in the oilpatch, say BATC and SES officials.

“We felt it was a really good fit for us,” said Ed Standinghorn, director of industry relations with BATC. “In addition to providing a range of services in the oilfield, we also have a training module getting our clients work ready. For example, we help them get their driver’s licences, complete their GED and so on.”

He said the new joint venture is a natural progression of the projects BATC has under its belt. “Work we do is nationally recognized,” Standinghorn said.

Greg Cousins, vice-president, southern region, for Site, said in a letter to current and potential customers that his company provides management services for First Alliance, including safety and quality programs, accounting services and support services.

“Utilizing the services of First Alliance Energy Services is one way in which our clients can honour the commitments of industry and government to transfer some of the benefits of resource and infrastructure development to the aboriginal stakeholders most affected by development on their traditional lands,” Cousins said.

Meanwhile, the billion-dollar expansions and a greenfield project in Saskatchewan’s potash industry are being aided by a four-year-old limited partnership called PAFHQ Construction.

PAFHQ Construction is a First Nations limited partnership in southern Saskatchewan comprising File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council Developments LP (50%), Points Athabasca (17%), and Graham Construction (33%).

Created in 1999, Points Athabasca is another partnership involving Graham and a development corporation representing seven primarily Dene First Nation communities in northern Saskatchewan.

PAFHQ is doing work at the $4.1 billion K+S Legacy potash mine under construction 50 kilometres north of Moose Jaw and the $2.9 billion expansion of the PotashCorp mine at Rocanville, in east-central Saskatchewan.

BATC is composed of six First Nations located around North Battleford in central Saskatchewan. It calls its 8,500 band members “clients.”

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