It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, a new five-minute video could be that epic novel that captures the rising spirit of an entire nation.


The Cree Regional Economic Enterprise Company – Creeco Inc. for short – recently released a video that puts a face to their corporate name. Though many had some idea of what Creeco Inc. does, the company wanted to leave no doubt in people’s minds.

Creeco Inc. communications officer Jonathan Saganash is the driving force behind this branding campaign. For him, it is a matter of connecting economic and social development with pride in Cree potential.


“We want to let people know that CREECO Inc. is a one-stop shop for development,” he said. “It’s owned and operated by the Cree peoples. We also want young people to see us as the employer of choice [in Eeyou Istchee] once they finish their studies.”


If you take a look around the major business developments in the North, chances are you’ll come across a CREECO Inc. project. As a Cree-owned holding company, it is deeply involved in building the future of the people and the land in many different domains.


The familiar orange-and-black logo of Air Creebec is joined by its many sister companies in the fast-paced, special effects-heavy video. Though the airline is one of CREECO Inc.’s more high-profile entities, others get their time in the spotlight as well. Do you need support staff for a 2,000-person mining camp? Gestion ADC can take care of that for you. Does your community need a new school? Cree Construction and Development Company has over 35 years of experience in the business. In fact, the company built the Chisasibi school that’s featured in the video.


“People can see themselves in [the video],” said Saganash. “The branding of CREECO Inc. is not just a strategy for people outside of Cree lands, it’s also there for us in the community.”


This video was a long and complex undertaking. Saganash, who has previous experience in civil engineering and information technology, spent a year observing the CREECO Inc. family after being hired as the company’s first communications officer. Hundreds of hours of footage were shot while criss-crossing hundreds of kilometres of Eeyou territory. Simply co-ordinating schedules for interviews proved to be a nightmare. Nor did it come cheap, though Saganash feels it was worth the price.


“When I presented the cost, I was not the most popular guy in the room,” he recalls with a laugh. “But afterwards when people saw it, they would call me saying how much they loved it. People even ask for DVDs to take home to their families.”


Corporate videos usually inspire yawns; this production inspired pride. The premiere screening at a Cree economic event in Val d’Or generated a thunderous reception. Its impact was almost instantaneous. A 30-second version of the ad has garnered interest in CREECO Inc. from First Nations across Canada.


“We place ourselves as a national model,” said Saganash. “It’s about transferring knowledge, to better the possibilities for different communities. We’re making money but we give back.”