Ontario Government Applauds Aboriginal Business Partnership

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Ontario Government Applauds Aboriginal Business Partnership

Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

Ontario and Ten Northern First Nations Celebrate Wasaya Group Business Success TORONTO, Dec. 8 - The Ontario government and the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation congratulate the Wasaya Group Inc. as the recipient of the 2004 Ontario Aboriginal Business Partnerships Award, Michael Bryant, Minister Responsible for Native Affairs announced today. "Our government recognizes the participation of Aboriginal people in making Ontario strong and prosperous," said Bryant. "This is a good example of the success that can be achieved when the Aboriginal communities and businesses work together," he added. Minister Bryant will be joined by Roberta Jamieson, Chief Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, to present the award at a celebration this afternoon at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, 16 Spadina Road. Wasaya Airways LLP is the main business of the group and operates an extensive passenger service, charter and freight network throughout Northern Ontario and Northern Manitoba. Wasaya Group Inc. employs approximately 300 people, of which 30 per cent are Aboriginal. The group provides services and a portion of its net income to member First Nation communities and is also involved in energy production. The Wasaya Group Inc. is a partnership of ten northern First Nations. It was originally founded as a First Nation business enterprise in 1989 and is comprised of Bearskin Lake First Nation, Kasabonika Lake First Nation, Kingfisher Lake First Nation, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, Nibinamik First Nation, Wapekeka First Nation, Webequie First Nation, Wunnumin Lake First Nation and (as of November 30, 2004) Muskrat Dam First Nation and Pikangikum First Nation. "The National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation is proud to honour Aboriginal achievement in the business sector," said Jamieson. "Aboriginal people are very interested in being major economic players and we have a great deal to contribute to the economic health of the province and all of Canada." The National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation received 42 eligible nominations for the 2004 Ontario Aboriginal Business Partnerships Award. "Partnerships foster economic opportunities, create employment and generate prosperity for people," Bryant said. "The Wasaya partnership has made links between northern communities better, thereby enhancing the quality of life in remote communities and promoting northern tourism." Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ONTARIO ABORIGINAL BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS AWARD The Ontario Aboriginal Business Partnerships Award honours successful, Ontario-based partnerships among Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal businesses, communities or organizations. The award was established by the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat (ONAS) with the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation in 2000. The award is intended to recognize and celebrate Aboriginal business partnerships that: - increase Aboriginal employment, provide learning and training opportunities for Aboriginal people and businesses - show a commitment to the community in which they operate Nomination criteria The partnership must be located in Ontario and be at least two years old. It must also meet one or more of the following criteria: - establish a new, Aboriginal-owned business - increase revenue and growth in one or both organizations as a result of the partnership - increase shareholder value - increase employment of Aboriginal people - hire or promote Aboriginal people to serve in senior management positions - increase learning/training opportunities for Aboriginal people - provide benefits to the Aboriginal community - establish innovations in products, services or financial/corporate structures Following an open public nominations process, the Working Partnerships Advisory Committee makes a recommendation to the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs who selects the recipient. Disponible en fran├žais www.nativeaffairs.gov.on.ca www.aboriginalbusiness.on.gov.on.ca www.naaf.caFor further information: Sandra D'Ambrosio, Minister's Office, (416) 326-1000; Merike Nurming, Communications Branch, Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, (416) 326-4079; Chris Allicock, Publicist, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, (416) 319-8003; Delaney Waddell, Aboriginal Liaison Consultant, Business and Economic Development Unit, Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, Tel: (416) 314-7434