The relocation of Cree Construction could prove disastrous for the company that has proven to be a consistent money-maker for the Crees, says a study by a Montreal accounting firm.

But not everyone agrees with the study and one Cree business leader says it overlooks a lot of benefits of a relocation.

The study was done by the firm Raymond, Chabot, Martin and Pare. A resolution was passed at a CCCQ/CRA Annual General Assembly to move Cree Construction lock, stock and barrel to one of the Cree communities.

The report says Cree Construction would face difficulties because it would be located away from the construction marketplace, away from main suppliers and would lose managerial and technical staff.

“The relocation is a major undertaking, in that the company’s key resource, its people, will for the most part need to be replaced over a relatively short period of time, entailing a transition period of high vulnerability,” the report says.

The auditors say the handicaps “raise serious doubts as to its (Cree Construction) capacity to remain a going concern.” The move itself is expected to cost $4.29 million.

Cree Construction President Steven Bearskin says his main concern is for the company’s “bonding capacity.” The bonding capacity is basically insurance given by a bonding company that says a construction firm can be trusted to do the job at hand. It is based on the expertise of the staff.

Bearskin said that at best only 10-15 per cent of the present Montreal staff would be willing to relocate to a Cree community. “It would mean starting over from scratch.”

Bearskin feels his hands are tied because the resolution doesn’t allow for a compromise solution that would make the move less costly.

He said the positive thing about the relocation would be jobs for the Cree people wherever the company moves. Currently Ouje-Bougoumou, Nemaska and Chisasibi are in the running.

Jack Blacksmith, Waswanipi Board of Compensation board member, sees the report as overly negative. “From the onset to the conclusion, this report was written in terms of negativity. It never mentions the positive opportunities for Crees. I don’t feel the relocation would be a large problem with a proper implementation plan.

“The real need for Crees is going to be jobs and you can see that even today. In terms of local employment and benefits the relocation would be an economic boost to any Cree community.”

He said a sub-office in Montreal could minimize the cost of relocating. He sees the changeover in staff as gradual. The basic administration staff at first, then the middle term would see technical staff change and in the long term finally the professionals.

“Look at the example of the Cree School Board. When it was in Val d’Or you could count the Native staff on one hand. Now if you look at the head office in Mistissini, it’s the other way around. Not only that but there are spin-off jobs.”

Blacksmith expects there will be growing pains but says some costs have to be born for the long-term benefit.