Sturgeon Lake First Nation and Metis Nation-Saskatchewan become part of PAREDA

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Sturgeon Lake Chief Greg Ermine signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to join PAREDA during a ceremony on Thursday at Prince Albert City Hall.

The Prince Albert Regional Economic Development Alliance (PAREDA) welcomed The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) and Sturgeon Lake First Nation (SLFN) as their newest members in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing on Thursday at Prince Albert City Hall.

The new members joined four original founding members including the City of Prince Albert, the Rural Municipality of Prince Albert, the Town of Shellbrook and Peter Ballantyne Developments LP.

The extension of the Prince Albert Regional Economic Development Alliance (PAREDA) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) also took effect immediately. It will run through until the end of 2024.

Greg Ermine, Chief of Sturgeon Lake First Nation thinks having more partners at the table benefits everyone.

“It’s about inclusion,” Ermine said. “The more people that we bring to the table collectively to discuss the future growth occurring and the future growth of the PA region, obviously, better results can come of that.

“A number of organizations are involved with the longterm planning of the Prince Albert REDA so we are just excited to bring value to that,” he added.

MN-S President and President and Economic Development Minister Glen McCallum sees the benefit of working as a group rather than as individuals.

“This is an opportunity for us in this region that our people are involved in,” he said. “Opportunities can be had more likely than if we are working independently. For me, as the president of the Metis Nation, I compliment the City of Prince Albert in regards to the Prince Albert economic development group to be able to come together and have the different players that are part of it to be able to have that strong voice and create opportunity,” he said.

Ermine explained that groups like to talk about where the Prince Albert region will be in the years and decades to come. He said it’s important for Sturgeon Lake to be part of that discussion.

“If we can have a part in planning that, and at least provide some input and insights and ideas, and if we multiply that by a number of other organizations, a number of other brains, I think that obviously better results can come,” Ermine said. “We are just really excited about where PA is going but we are also excited about bringing value to that again.”

Sturgeon Lake is located around a half hour from Prince Albert and has a population of 3,000 registered band members. Ermine said the majority of members live on reserve, however a large percentage live in Prince Albert and other Saskatchewan cities.

He estimates between 400 and 500 are Prince Albert residents. With the proximity of the reserve they have many people who do business in Prince Albert and are employed in the city.

“A lot of our membership who live on reserve do work in the city, and do work in the area, so obviously, the economic impact that we provide as far as the economic dollars and the benefits is certainly there,” he said.

Sturgeon Lake also operates the Tipi Fuel and Convenience Store on 15th Street which is owned by Sturgeon Lake Development Corporation, the Sturgeon Lake Office Complex on Marquis Road and they are also a partner in Glenmor Equipment, according to Ermine.

“We do have a number of investments in Prince Albert and we are really excited about this and potential future investments down the road,” Ermine said.

Ermine believes that the diversity of partners and perspectives will also be a benefit.

“I don’t think any one person brings the exact same opinions or thoughts as the next person. Obviously, anyone that can come to a table and bring value. It only helps the larger picture of moving our region forward economically,” Ermine said.

McCallum said the partnership could be a big benefit to the small businesses owned and operated by Metis residents of Prince Albert. Like Ermine, he said it’s better to work together to improve the region, rather than have everyone do their own thing.

“That’s the thing that I like about this group—the First Nations, Metis and the City of Prince Albert to come together in Prince Albert so that we can speak as one voice,” he said. “We need to plan together so that we have that stronger opportunity to be able to create jobs and for our people in this region.”

McCallum said that both he and Ermine were representing their members’ interests in economic development in the region. They think the agreement can capitalize on mining and forestry interests. McCallum said that it also creates a family of people that have the same interest in economic development in the region.

He added that the MN-S has worked hard to add 25,000 people to their registry over the last number of years, pushing it to 80,000. He believes there are close to 8,000 in Prince Albert.

McCallum said that businesses would be interested in collaborating with the forestry and mining sectors.

“We need to have all of our groups come together and plan put a process so we can better engage that’s the opportunity we have here,” he said.

The emcee for the event was Craig Guidinger Director of Planning and Development Services for the City of Prince Albert.

PAREDA CEO Ashley Charles spoke about the progress of the organization over the past three years.

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne, RM of Prince Albert Reeve Eric Schmalz and Shellbrook Mayor Amund Otterson also spoke at the event. Derek McKay represented the Peter Ballantyne Development Corporation.