Six Nations business wins award

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

OHSWEKEN - Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation has won an industry award from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

The council and Sodexo Canada bestowed on the Ohsweken-based development corporation the Aboriginal Economic Development Corporation of the Year Award at the council's annual Calgary Gala earlier this week.

Sodexo founded the award which is given by the council.

"By developing a unique form of corporate governance, we have been able to foster economic growth and development while addressing our community's needs and priorities," said Matt Jamieson, president and CEO.

"We are extremely honoured to receive such a significant award for the progress we, as a community, have made toward achieving self-sufficiency for the people of Six Nations."

Six Nations elected Chief Ava Hill said the creation of SNGRDC was in many ways a response to the growing number of development projects happening in and around Six Nations of the Grand River territory. "Through the establishment of SNGRDC, our community has been able to create real economic benefits for our people," she said.

The wholly-owned Six Nations corporation "has transcended the unique political environment of Six Nations by ensuring transparency and accountability," the council said in a dedication, "through the creation of a governance structure that positioned them to be a viable First Nations business partner, specifically with renewable energy projects."

Right now, the corporation participates in the production of more than 900 megawatts of clean energy through its direct equity ownership or indirection community benefit agreements involving 17 solar panel and wind farm energy projects in Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk and Oxford counties, and other communities.

The corporation supports the growth of the community through annual community investments by the Economic Development Trust with more than $3.5 million invested into the Six Nations Community Trust, which distributes grants to projects.

It also has facilitated $1.48 million over 20 years in direct post-secondary contributions from renewable energy partners. The corporation's work with partners has helped 115 employees - 53 full-time and 62 part-time and contract employees, with more than 85 per cent of their workforces being aboriginal.

The corporation has its roots in the Six Nations economic development department, which reported to the elected council on its operations. The creation of the corporation in 2015 carried with it transparency protocols and regular reporting to the community.

"Unlike a standard corporation, profits generated by SNGRDC flow to the newly formed Economic Development Trust," said Matt Jamieson, President/CEO of SNGRDC. "This allows our community to collectively benefit from economic interests happening in and around our community's territory."

The corporation's focus on renewable energy, partnerships and the diversification of their business success "is a model for not only our communities and leadership across the country but for all Canadians," JP Gladu, the council's president and CEO said in a statement.