Press Release

NADF Announces Winners for the 31st Annual NADF Awards

Thunder Bay, Ontario, Friday, March 24, 2023: NADF and Presen􀆟ng Sponsor, Bearskin Airlines – A Division of Perimeter Avia􀆟on LP presented the 31st Annual NADF Awards Gala at the Valhalla Hotel & Conference Centre. Last held in-person in 2019, 220 guests atended a sold-out event to celebrate six (6) award recipients for excellence in business and leadership, and were entertained by stand-up comedian, writer, actor Paul Rabliauskas.

A new category was introduced this year – Excellence in Community Planning – to recognize the First Na􀆟on communi􀆟es and their CCP Coordinators who have worked 􀆟relessly in engaging their community members to develop Comprehensive Community Plans for the future of their members. Three communi􀆟es were recognized for their work in community planning.

NADF is pleased to welcome back Bearskin Airlines – A Division of Perimeter Avia􀆟on LP, who has proudly sponsored the annual awards since the inaugural event in 1991.

“We are honoured to be a part of the NADF Awards. They are a testament to the incredible achievements of Indigenous businesses and individuals who are making a difference and inspiring future entrepreneurs in Northern Ontario. We are proud to be a part of this vibrant and dynamic region. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers and support Northern Ontario’s economic growth.” – Joey Petrisor, CEO & President, Perimeter Aviation


Award Sponsor: Ontario Power Genera􀆟on
In 2016, Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek, Aroland First Na􀆟on and Ginoogaming First Na􀆟on formed a partnership to collec􀆟vely nego􀆟ate an impact benefit agreement with Greenstone Gold Mines. Through this process the First Na􀆟ons experienced the advantages of coopera􀆟on and working in partnership to advance the interests of the Na􀆟ons and the regional economy.

The unified approach of the First Na􀆟ons led to the forma􀆟on of Minodahmun Development LP to jointly manage business opportuni􀆟es and advance employment preparedness related to mining and other industrial projects. The partnership has over 40 ac􀆟ve joint venture agreements in construc􀆟on, mining, engineering and oil and gas sectors; 280 members have par􀆟cipated in training programs and of these, they have assisted 106 in securing employment. The partnership has invested over $6 million in local training ini􀆟a􀆟ves since 2020 and has acquired lands set asides to develop a 11-hectare commercial plaza and 3-hectare industrial plaza.

The three First Na􀆟ons are equal owners and jointly manage and share in the profits of Minodahmun. The profits are used to advance community infrastructure and social programs. The partnership has no debt and a strong cashflow and good liquidity. Earning $7.8 million in revenue in 2021-2022 and are projec􀆟ng stronger growth in 2022-2023.

Award Sponsor: Neegani Investment Management Inc.

Michelle is a member of the Fort William First Na􀆟on and resides in the community. Heart/Soul Company was created on a passion for a mother’s self-care that evolved into sharing her products with others. Being hyper-sensi􀆟ve to fragrance, Michelle began researching candle making. She wanted a product that had the ability to be toxin, paraben phalate free, and share her products with others through a connec􀆟on of scents that are nostalgic to many aspects of her customers lives. Her inten􀆟on was never to sale her products, but a􀅌er she began gi􀅌ing them to others, she was encouraged to start her business.

Heart/Soul Company is a small family business, with each member carrying a role in all aspects of the business. Launched to the public in 2021, the business has received tremendous support with a rapid expansion and increased demand.

Michelle is the perfect example of the entrepreneurial spirit. She is not only a successful business owner, but she is an inspira􀆟on to her daughter and other Indigenous entrepreneurs what want to follow their dreams.

Award Sponsor: TD

Corey is a member of Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek and leads the Ingaged Crea􀆟ve Produc􀆟ons.
Established in late 2109, Ingaged Crea􀆟ve Produc􀆟ons was faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Corey’s leadership and guidance, he, and his team were successful in pivo􀆟ng to a new adap􀆟ve service model that helped the firm overcome the pandemic in one the most heavily impacted industries.

Four years in business, and Ingaged Crea􀆟ve Produc􀆟ons has earned a reputa􀆟on as a one of the region’s leading full-service marke􀆟ng firms. They have engaged with more than 120 clients and 100 events and have successfully proven their ability and commitment to providing crea􀆟ve, culturally conscious mul􀆟-media content, strategies, and project and event management services.

Each of these successes has allowed Ingaged Crea􀆟ve Produc􀆟ons to expand their service offerings to deliver beter, more complex projects, campaigns, events, and produce new products more effec􀆟vely.

Since incep􀆟on, Ingaged Crea􀆟ve Produc􀆟ons has invested over $750,000 into the regional First Na􀆟ons economy through their work with new and established Indigenous Ar􀆟sts and small Indigenous businesses.

Award Sponsor: BDC

Founded by Kathleen, a member of Lac Des Mille Lacs First Na􀆟on, Sister Bear Designs is a healing journey for three sisters to honor their family and community’s knowledge, strength, resilience, and determina􀆟on to carry on tradi􀆟onal Anishinaabe teachings through crea􀆟ng.

When Kathleen found herself out of work and unable to make ends meet, she knew something had to change. Kathleen atended a program for Indigenous women looking to start their own cra􀅌ing business. Kathleen called her sisters and within a mater of days, Sister Bear Designs was formed.

The intent of Sister Bear Designs has been to ensure tradi􀆟onal and ancestral knowledge is kept alive and passed on to the next genera􀆟on. Sister Bear Designs now includes three genera􀆟ons of family ar􀆟sts and offers a carefully curated collec􀆟on of Indigenous foods, gi􀅌s, and clothing.

Kathleen has an unwavering dedica􀆟on to the advancement and empowerment of Indigenous women and is a leader in breaking trails and crea􀆟ng safer places for Indigenous People in Thunder Bay.

Thawikayhigan LP (TKG Group)
Award Sponsor: Bearskin Airlines – A Division of Perimeter Avia􀆟on LP

Thawikayhigan LP (TKG Group) is 100% owned by six First Na􀆟ons and was established in 2018 to secure contract work with the Watay Power Project. TKG Group is in the business of securing subcontracts from the Watay Power Project and their focus is on the procurement and logis􀆟cs of the goods and services for their owner First Na􀆟ons.

Since incep􀆟on, TKG Group has been successful in establishing itself as a general contractor and securing a significant amount of contract work with Valard Construc􀆟on LP. To secure these contracts, TKG Group searched for and established alliances with reputable companies, including Indigenous companies. Three new limited partnerships and two joint ventures were created with business partners to work with TKG Group on mul􀆟ple projects. An addi􀆟onal eight mul􀆟-year contracts being successfully nego􀆟ated with goods and services providers, and supply contracts with twenty different suppliers.

TKG Group has been successful in using their business rela􀆟onships to generate significant revenues, from a nega􀆟ve balance in 2019 to $14.4 Million in 2022.

TKG Group has several new business ventures planned, such as the recent announcement of the acquisi􀆟on of Oshtugan Computers in December 2022.

Award Sponsor: Hydro One

Cory is a proud member of Deer Lake First Na􀆟on and grew up on the land learning from his family and community members about the tradi􀆟onal values and prac􀆟ces of life. It is these connec􀆟ons that ins􀆟lled in Cory the importance of revitalizing the Aboriginal culture, language, and tradi􀆟ons, and why he has re-learned to speak, read, and write in his Oji-Cree language.

Cory began perfec􀆟ng his servant leadership skills at the age of twenty-one when he became involved with his community’s band council. Since then, Cory has served his community as a Councilor and a Deputy Chief, and has also served as a Supervisor at Tikanagan Child Family Services.

Cory’s leadership skills didn’t go unno􀆟ced. In June 2022, with the encouragement of the Keeway􀆟nook Okimakanak member Chiefs, Cory accepted the appointment of Chief Execu􀆟ve Director of Keeway􀆟nook Okimakanak, a non-poli􀆟cal Chiefs Council represen􀆟ng six First Na􀆟on communi􀆟es in the Far North.

A natural born leader, with an open-door policy, Cory has successfully applied his knowledge of community needs and frontline work to his role as KO’s Chief Execu􀆟ve Director. Under the direc􀆟on of the KO Chiefs, and under Cory’s leadership, KO has been successful in embarking on a number of key
community and economic development projects, including the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project, various infrastructure projects, and family and welfare services.

Throughout all his endeavors, Cory has successfully demonstrated that his primary focus is revitalizing the Aboriginal culture, and the protec􀆟ng, conserving, and ensuring the sustainable use of the lands and resources for future genera􀆟ons.

Presented by: Melissa Courte, Senior Strategic Ini􀆟a􀆟ves Officer, Indigenous Services Canada

This year, for the first 􀆟me, three (3) First Na􀆟ons were recognized for their work in 􀆟relessly in engaging their community members to develop Comprehensive Community Plans for the future of their members.

Mitaanjigamiing First Na􀆟on
Accepted by: Chris Henderson, CCP Coordinator
Mitaanjigamiing has been a quiet leader in the CCP field for years, making steady progress on community development. They began their community planning process in 2012 with a 3-year strategic plan. By 2015, their planning efforts grew, with community engagement events iden􀆟fying over 300 ac􀆟ons.
In 2016, funding allowed them to begin a focussed CCP process; working with both on- and off- reserve members to set a Vision, Objec􀆟ves, and exploring the ideas and challenges brought forward by the community.

A􀅌er years of review, the plan was finalized in 2019 and Mitaanjigaming Chief and Council and staff immediately moved to begin implemen􀆟ng it. The last 3 years have been focussed on realizing the Goals set out in the Plan, upda􀆟ng the CCP as ini􀆟a􀆟ves were completed, and se􀆫ng new Goals. Projects completed from the CCP have included new docks, houses, buildings, road improvements, annual community events, and setling land claims. Looking forward, Mitaanjigamiing will con􀆟nue work on the CCP with solar panels, more housing, a daycare, roundhouse improvements, economic development projects, youth programming and more.

Accepted by: Linda Trudeau, former CCP Coordinator
The Moose Cree CCP is a testament to the determina􀆟on of FN staff and community members who want to see posi􀆟ve change for their community. Their process began in 2018 with the hiring of a brand new CCP Coordinator. Linda then led 3 years of deep community engagement; a total of 57 community events involving more than 1000 community members in Moose Factory and communi􀆟es across northern Ontario. During the events, the process covered 8 areas of community, exploring what’s going on now and what members want to see going forward. The process also brought staff to the table, to iden􀆟fy strategic, ac􀆟onable projects to make the CCP Vision a reality.

The Moose Cree CCP is currently awai􀆟ng final approval by Chief and Council, but has the full support of the membership, who put years of efforts into the Plan.

Accepted by: Gordon Wabasse
Webequie’s planning truly began before the signing of Treaty, when they received the 3- Tier structure from their Elders. This structure sets the framework for all planning going forward and was the basis of the CCP. Modern planning processes began with Days of Ac􀆟on in 2010 and 2015, during which members began genera􀆟ng lists of ac􀆟on ideas, iden􀆟fying their aspira􀆟ons for the future. CCP officially started in 2015 with focussed community engagement events, involving youth, Elders, staff, and all members. Events to gather, sort, and review informa􀆟on were held in English and Oji Cree, on- and off reserve, online, and on the land. Their Dra􀅌 Plan was finalized in late 2022, and is currently in front of membership, for the final stages of review before endorsing their CCP. Chief and Council aim to endorse the plan by BCR later this spring, and the Plan will be founda􀆟onal as Webequie looks forward to future partnerships, development, and posi􀆟ve community change.

Proceeds from this year’s event will support the Dennis Franklin Cromarty Highschool, a high school for First Nation students located in Thunder Bay, ON. Established in 2000, and administered by the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council, the high school delivers education and extra-curricular activities to students from twenty (20) First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario, and the NADF Sponsorship Fund, a fund established by NADF to provide financial support to Indigenous People, groups, organizations within our service area for activities and initiatives that promote education, healthy living, and cultural learning.

To date, the annual NADF Awards has generated over $677,000 in proceeds for various causes.

Incorporated in 1984, NADF is a not-for-profit Aboriginal Financial Institution promoting and supporting Aboriginal entrepreneurs, businesses, and economic development within the boundaries of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Robinson-Superior 1850 and Treaty 3 territories. NADF delivers financing, business support, community planning, workshops, and comprehensive community planning services to Aboriginal entrepreneurs, wholly-owned and majority-owned businesses (on and off-reserve), and First Nation communities

For Media Inquiries, please contact:
Brian Davey, Execu􀆟ve Director
T: 807-623-5397

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