The Liberal government has appointed Steven Bearskin to Industry Canada’s National Aboriginal Economic Development Board.

The board advises Aboriginal Business Canada, which has a budget of $32.8 million this year.

Bearskin has been president of Cree Construction since 1992. He also worked for the Cree Health Board and the Grand Council of the Crees. Bearskin was unavailable for comment on his appointment.

He has braved his share of challenges over the years. He was also a band councillor in Chisasibi from 1981 to 1987, the years right after the community moved from Fort George Island.

In 1993, Cree Construction was at the centre of a controversy over a $73-million contract it awarded to the construction company Beaver Asphalte to build the 116-kilometre Route du Nord.

Beaver Asphalte was owned by the family of Tommy D’Errico, former treasurer of the Quebec Liberal Party; the Liberals were in power at the time.

The regular tendering process was bypassed in the awarding of the contract.

The PQ Opposition charged Beaver Asphalte was pocketing $30 million in profits on the deal, an allegation that Cree Construction dismissed as untrue.

But Bearskin persevered, piloting Cree Construction into international projects around the world and joint ventures at home in the Cree communities. Under his guidance, Cree Construction has been one of the few consistently profitable Cree companies on the regional level and is one of the Crees’ biggest employers.

The National Aboriginal Economic Development Board has 20 private-sector members, mostly Natives. Bearskin is the only one from Quebec.

Joining Bearskin are: Stan Beardy, Cynthia Bertolin, Gary îosgoed, Mary Jamieson, Keith Roderick Julien, Mary MacDonald, Frieda Martselos, Arthur Mercer, Doreen Saulis, Joanne Taptuna, Melinda Tatty, Rosa Walker and Roy Whitney.