Business Development Coordinator


For the past three years, CREECO Inc., and more specifically, Cree Construction and Development Corporation have been in discussions and in the beginnings of developing working relations with the Tataskweyak Cree Nation. Recent developments have increased travel to Manitoba to meet not only with the TCN but also members of other Cree Nations. As a show of commitment to continue this development, the Chief of TCN, Emile Garson expressed willingness to travel with a delegation from his community to visit with the Crees of Eeyou Istchee in our own territory. Therefore, CREECO Inc. coordinated a four-day visit for 17 members of their community to the communities of Mistissini and Ouje-Boubougoumou.

Day 1 , Monday, June 4, Cree Nation of Mistissini

The members of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation arrived at the Chibougoumou airport via Air Creebec at 9:20 am. The Chairman / President of BOC / Creeco and President of CCDC were present to greet our guests to the territory.

We arrived in Mistissini at I I am and the group checks into the lodge while others check into the assigned house. Mrs. Maggie Mianscum welcomes us and provides our guests with welcoming gifts.

At 12 noon we made our way to Adels Restaurant for lunch.

At 2 pm we visited the Cree School Board office for a tour to be given by Chairman, Gordon Blackned and Vice-Chairman, Abraham Jolly.

At 3 pm we visited to the Band Office for a tour given by Chief Longchap, Vice-Chief Wooton and Director General Thomas Neeposh.

At 3 pm we visited the CCDC office and have a short break with food and refreshments.

At 4 pm we went to the CHRD office and the GGC office. Chief Garson meets with Deputy Grand Chief Iserhoff, Youth Grand Chief Matoush and Donnie Nicholls.

We gather for a traditional feast prepared by the Native Women’s Group at the shaptauwaan at 6:30 pm.

A few of the members of the Grand Council and Niskamoon delegation arrive and begin introducing themselves to the Tataskweyak Cree.

DAY 2, Tuesday June 5, Cree Nation of Mistissini

Beginning our day at 8:15 am, Arnold Cheechoo of the JBCCS conducted a radio interview with Chief Garson, Junior Chief Vincent Keeper and one of the Elders accompanying the Tataskweyak tour, Eeyou Istcheegroup, Albert Keeper. Jack Blacksmith and William MacLeod are also interviewed and explain how this relationship came about, and go over the purpose of the visit.

At 8:30 am we gathered for breakfast in the Mistissini Lodge Restaurant. Everyone finishes breakfast at 10 am.

At 9:30 am some of the guests went for a visit to the Cree Trappers Association (CTA) office. The tour is given by Thomas Coon, Vice-President of the CTA.

At 10 am our guests are given a tour of the tourism office and Mistissini Lodge by Andrew Coon, Tourism Coordinator and Titus Shecapio, Tourism Officer.

At 11 am we made our way to the Childcare Centre for a tour to be given by Mrs. Ann-Marie Awashish.

We returned to the Lodge for lunch at 11:30 am. Our group visits with the GCC and Niskamoon delegations.

At 12 pm we lunched with the Grand Council of the Crees and Niskamoon Corporation. The Mistissini Lodge And Restaurant staff did a fine job accommodating such a large group on such a short notice.

At 1:30 pm everyone made their way to the Cree Nation of Mistissini Headquarters for the signing of the Declaration of Kinship and Cooperation between the Tataskweyak Cree Nation and the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec. The conference room chamber is filled to capacity with Cree Chiefs, Niskamoon representatives, delegates from Mistissini and other Cree communities. Prior to the signing of the agreement, words from Grand Chief Mukash, Chief Garson, Jack Blacksmith and Chief Longchap are shared with those present. The agreement is signed in triplicate – originals are given to Chief Longchap, Grand Chief Mukash and Chief Garson.

Chief Garson expresses his sincere appreciation for the kindness shown to his people from the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and hopes that this agreement could be the beginnings of each Nation sharing its experiences and knowledge with each other. One example given was to create a Nation-to-Nation youth exchange program where each Nation could have youth from each community live and work in the other community for three weeks to a month, possibly in the field of radio broadcasting or other fields.

At 2 pm we made our way over to the Community Centre / Sports Complex – Andrew Coon and Titus Shecapio guide us through the facility. Although construction is not complete, the facility is impressive. The grand opening is scheduled for August / September 2007.

At 3 pm we went to the Elders Center. Raymond Nakogee was at the entrance to greet us and to provide an explanation of the services the centre provides during our tour. The atmosphere is relaxing – we are offered tea and bannock, so we decide to take a few moments and kick back and enjoy the hospitality. Don MacLeod, Economic Development Officer for Mistissini, joins the group and led us onto visits with a few local businesses once we finished our visit of the Elder’s Center. At 3:30 pm we visited and met with the owner(s) of S&S Stationary, R&P Transport / Laundry Mat / Car Wash and Toyota Outlet.

A visit with the Elders had been arranged for 4:15 pm at the Elders Point. When we arrived, we were amazed at the setting and arrangement of the traditional structures. Upon entering the lodge, we found tables of crafts on display and a number of elders carving paddles, axe handles and creating tamarack goose decoys. The guests appreciated the display of snowshoes, mittens, moccasins and the like. We asked if the items were for sale, but unfortunately for us they were not. Jack said a few words in closing off our visit with the Elders at their point.


We arrived at the Ouje-Bougoumou Lodge at 7:45 pm and our second day together came to a close. By this time, with our hectic schedule, everyone was quite tired and ready for bed.

Day 3, Wednesday, June 6, Ouje-Bougoumou

Our third day began at 8:30 am, when we met for breakfast in the lodge restaurant. Everyone felt like a chief that day, so we all ordered the “Chiefs” breakfast of champions. The youth seemed to have a difficult time keeping up with the pace of the adults and Elders. Irvin was always taking notes in his notebookand interviewing people here and there so the rest of the youth had to wait for him more than a few times. It was all good.

At 10 am, we began our tour of the community, which was led by Gaston Cooper, Tourism Coordinator, and Steve Mianscum, Tourism Officer. We drove around the community in caravan for 15 minutes until we all gathered at Eeyou Companee.

At 10:30 am Gaston Cooper and Deputy Chief Kenny Mianscum provided an overview of Ouje-Bougoumou’s history as well as a thorough explanation of the services and structures within the community. Special mention was given to the United Nations Award granted to Ouje-Bougoumou in 1995.

From Eeyou Companee, we moved down the hall to the Cree Outfitting and Tourism Association headquarters at 11 am. Pamela MacLeod provided a brief history of COTA and explained its growth and services over the recent years. Special mention was made to Robin McGinely who was unable to be present due to prior commitments.

Following MacLeod’s presentation, Manon Richmond began her overview of the Cree Native Arts and Crafts Association at 11:20 am. The group had a few questions for both Pamela and Manon following their respective presentations.

We arrived at the Board of Compensation / CREECO office at 11:30 am. Chairman and President Jack R. Blacksmith provided the group with an overview and history of the creation of the BOC / CREECO as a result of the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement. Jack introduced all staff and briefly explained each of their roles and responsibilities as well their duration of employment with the organization.

At 11:45 am, Gaston mentioned he had a special surprise for everyone, so we followed his lead as we made our way down to the cultural camp. Upon our arrival, we were pleased to find out that we could watch a few beavers in the process of being cooked for yet another feast that evening.

At 2 pm we followed Gaston’s lead and made our way to the Band Office.

The group entered the main conference room and were greeted by the Cree Nation Youth Council. Youth Grand Chief, John S. Matoush gave us a warm reception and an overview of the history of the CNYC and explanation of its roles and mandates.

At 2:30 pm the adults continued their tour of the band office while the youth remained in the meeting and joined in the discussions.

When 3:45 pm rolled around, the youth made their way to the Sports Complex. As we were entering, the adults and elders were exiting the building. Perfect coordination! What a team!At 4 pm we drove out to the motocross / snowmobile course.

At 4:30 pm we drove out to the scenic lookout point down by that bank for a short break and to take a few pictures.

When 5 pm rolled around, we made our way to the cultural village for a traditional feast complete with moose, bear and walleye – prepared by Anna Bosum and her team.

After the feast, people just hung out and mingled with each other. The atmosphere was relaxed and casual.

At 6:30 pm, Anna began her explanation of traditional, arts and crafts. It was entertaining, educational and comedic at times. Everyone enjoyed her style and enthusiasm – a true model of Cree tourism. Other Elders in attendance provided support to Anna, who was accompanied by her husband David and Deputy Chief Mianscum.

The day ended at 8 pm, everyone either hung around and visited at the traditional village or decided to go to their rooms to get some rest.

Day 4, Thursday, June 7, Ouje-bougoumou

Our fourth day together began at 8:30 am. We took our time and had an extended breakfast.

As Chief Sam Bosum had just arrived into town from Mistissini, a visit with him was first on our agenda. This took place at 10:30 am

Just as we were about to enter the Chief’s office, we had a pleasant surprise – we happened to meet up with Matthew Coon Come. Chief Garson remembered that Coon Come was Grand Chief of the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Our visit with Chief Bosum came to a close at around I I am. The visit had a special sincere feeling to it.

At 11am we headed back to the CREECO office as the Vice-President, Matthew Happyjack, wanted to present a couple more gifts – one to Chief Garson (Creeco Inc. jacket) and the second to Junior Chief Keeper (Ottawa Senators Jersey).

At 11:30 am, Steve Mianscum led us on a wild back road to visit to the Bosum camp site (local bush camp). This was a fun experience.

By I pm, we arrived at the Chibougoumou Native Friendship Centre for a barbecue luncheon complete with hotdogs, corn, chips, soda and more hotdogs.

After another good eatin’, we let the group loose in downtown Chibougoumou. Our guests shopped, chilled out, ate some cream pie and mingled with the locals.

When 3:30 pm rolled around, we began tracking each other down so we could make it on time to the airport.

After a bit of confusion, stress and anxiety, we ensured that all our guests had their return tickets. We repacked, passed through security, obtained all tickets and breathed a sigh of relief – it was all good.

At 4:45 pm we said our farewells and well wishes to each other.

This visit was a fun, enjoyable, educational and memorable experience. It would not have been possible or as successful without the help and support of the following key people who worked to make it happen:

After a bit of confusion, stress and anxiety, we ensured that all our guests had their return tickets. We repacked, passed through security, obtained all tickets and breathed a sigh of relief – it was all good.

Honourable mention goes out to:

Maggie Mianscum

Edna Shecapio

Chief John Longchap

Deputy Chief Kathleen Wooton

Andrew Coon

Titus Shecapio

Mistissini Women’s Group

Mistissini Lodge and Restaurant

Chief Sam Bosum

Deputy Chief Kenny Mianscum

Gaston Cooper

Steve Mianscum

David and Anna Bosum

Donnie Nicholls – GCCDr. Billy Diamond andthe Niskamoon Corporation

Tataskweyak Cree Nation – Delegates

1. Emile Garson, Chief

2. Elijah Dick, Councillor

3. Norman Beardy, Councillor

4. Nathan Neckoway, Councillor

5. Ruba Thibeault, Councillor

6. Leah Garson, Executive Director

7. Robert Flett, Financial Administrator

8. Veronica Flett, Youth Chaperone

9. Vincent Keeper, Youth

10. Miranda Spence, Youth

11. Megan Keeper, Youth

12. Irvin Keeper, Youth

13. Daniel Desmit, Youth

14. William Beardy, Elder

15. Albert Keeper, Elder

16. Norman Spence, Elder

17. Chris Sinclair, Business Consultant

THE VIEW FROM MANITOBAThe Pas resident Chris Sinclair works for the Tataskweyak Cree. Sinclair says he started looking at an economic development strategy for the band about two years ago. Sinclair recommended that instead of starting from scratch, they decided to “do something with a First Nations company that has gone through the process. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”

The band agreed and they started looking around. “Cree Construction’s people with the president Willie MacLeod came and gave a presentation on the scope of their activities. They were specific to northern development and we got interested,” said Sinclair. From there they went on to do the first project on the Ghost Point cemetery. It was doneon time, under budget and almost all the employees were Cree which the band loved.

It was decided then to create the United Cree Construction Company. Sinclair said there is the possibility of more Cree partners. “There are a lot of other people and bands looking on from the sidelines to see what is happening,” said Sinclair.

Sinclair said the visit opened a lot of possibilities. “We learnt some new ways of looking at things when we visited in Mistissini and Ouje-Bougoumou,” he said. “We enjoyed our visit and brought back more than just business ideas. We got ideas on governance and infrastructure. We want to thank our guides, Jack Blacksmith, Willie MacLeod, Rodney Hester and Edna Shecapio.”