It’s easy to forget how much one person can take upon them to grow their communities. Darlene Cheechoo is the reminder that one can achieve success through a career built on working for the Cree Nation.

On December 20, the 21 members of the Cree Regional Authority’s (CRA) Board of Compensation elected Darlene Cheechoo as the new chairperson. Cheechoo also adopts the role of President for the Cree Regional Economic Enterprises Company Inc. (CREECO).

Cheechoo was first elected to the CRA Board of Compensation as a representative of Waskaganish in 2008 and won re-election in 2012. She served as vice-chairperson of the Board since December 2011 until December 2012. She also currently serves as head of CREECO-Dumas, a mining development service established in 2012 in partnership with Dumas Contracting Ltd. and Eeyou Baril, which distributes construction supplies. Both companies are among the many subsidiaries of CREECO.

As the new president of CREECO, Cheechoo is tasked with ensuring the continued prosperity and development of the Cree economy as well as to promote the training, advancement, and employment for members of the Cree First Nation. The stated purpose of CREECO is to create self-sufficiency and they are setting about achieving that through increasing their competitiveness in all markets.

Cheechoo brings with her a vast amount of experience acquired through her work as a former vice-chairperson at the Cree School Board and as Waskaganish School Commissioner. During her time at the Cree School Board, she worked on raising expectations in regards to student success.

Along with her experience in managing projects and shaping a corporate vision, she brings with her more than a decade of higher education with a Masters in Law as well as degrees in Common Law and Civil Law. Cheechoo was already married when she began her studies as a mature student. She also earned a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts.

In an interview with the Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) Magazine, Cheechoo says her late mother motivated her to finish her training and to work for the people of her community. “She was my greatest cheerleader,” Cheechoo said.

With so much accomplished, Cheechoo is a role model for all the young men and women in her community. “Achieving personal goals often requires tremendous sacrifice and commitment, but if you set your mind to it, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish,” she told the CIM magazine.

Darlene Cheechoo is ready to take the lead in developing the economy of Eeyou Istchee. Her previous experience and education will serve her well as she works on promoting the development and training of members of the Cree community and creating new business opportunities in Eeyou Istchee and the surrounding communities.