Since last November, William MacLeod of Mistissini has been the president of the Cree Construction and Development Company. MacLeod has spent the past five months getting to know everything about the company. “Sitting down with management has been a priority. We have had to discuss which areas are important and which need changes and improvement.” Macleod says that he hopes he was selected for the position based on his experience. Macleod has served time on different boards, including the CCDC and the Board of Compensation. “I have knowledge of corporate structures and how it works between the different companies. This is not my first senior management position.”

In the short time he has been with the CCDC, he has already had an impact. “For instance, we realized we had to have the equipment: we do have a substantial amount of equipment and we felt it was necessary to establish a department just for that area. We found also that most of our work is presently coming from EM-1, about 60-70 per cent of our sales. Then if EM-1 a does go through, there will be more contracts. The rest of our sales right now are coming from the Cree communities. We have always had different contracts with the Cree communities. Some are in the form of joint ventures, and so we share responsibility for what is required from the communities. So at the same time we need to ensure that we concentrate on EM-1 while maintaining our other contracts for the other communities. To help with this, we have appointed two Cree Directors to oversee these separate areas of interest.”

MacLeod says that hydro projects are always a boom, but then, like rain, they stop. “There will always be the community projects. They have supported us and we have to provide the necessary support that they require from us. We are able to work with some of the companies from the communities who want to become independent, to ensure that the works are shared, that the contract works that are exclusively to be undertaken by the Cree people are shared.”

With the signing of the Peace of the Brave, there have been a number of contracts set aside exclusively for the Crees. Thus far the CCDC has seen a significant jump in contract work related to the signing. “Last year we finished with $30 million in contracts, this year we jumped to $75 million. The majority is coming from the EM-1 project. We are projecting about $122 million for next year.”

As of December, according to their Human Resources Department, total hiring was 744 people for different works. Of those, 409 were Cree, almost 55 per cent. “We want to maximize the opportunity for the Cree. One thing that we have been successful at is the tax exemption status. Those Cree who work on the EM-1 won’t be taxed.”

The CCDC has also made a number of successful bids on and negotiated public tenures. With one contract, to build an access road from Nemaska up to the Eastmain River, the CCDC managed to work with 4 of their joint ventures from Chisasibi, Wemendji, Eastmain and Nemaska, and subcontracted to nine Cree companies from Mistissini, Waswanipi, Waskaganish and Whapmagstui.

The coming year will see a move of the headquarters for the CCDC. The Board of Directors made the decision to move the head office to Chisasibi. This will be completed either by the fall or winter of this year depending upon negotiations. The future of the CCDC is looking good though under the guidance of MacLeod. “We were in the red last year, working off a deficit, but now it is looking good for us and those we work with for the proceeding years.”