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Awards recognize Aboriginal business success.

QUEBEC CITY -- It was a diverse group of businesses recognized on Nov. 23, as the First Peoples Business Association handed out its sixth annual Mishtapew Awards of Excellence in Quebec City.

This year's winners included businesses in the natural resource, manufacturing, cultural, financial and service sectors, with both well-established enterprises and those just getting their businesses off the ground being recognized. All of this year's winners are based in Quebec.

Group Nokamic Inc., a company based in Dolbeau-Mistassini and operating in the forestry sector was named as this year's Aboriginal Business of the Year. The company manages mobile camps and carries out pre-commercial harvest thinning, and has also developed two new pieces of equipment, the Nokamic NP-540 and the NP-25, which can be used for strip thinning and land clearing operations.

This year's winner in the Trade and Services category is Premontex, a Wendake-based business founded in 1987. The company manufacturers and distributes a range of hardwood products, including staircase components, mouldings, panels and laminated tiles. The company has more than 50 full-time employees, working in a 40,000 square foot factory.

In keeping with traditional Aboriginal practices, the company has designed its production techniques to ensure efficient use of its raw materials, and to reduce the waste products going back into the environment. The company also works to ensure the quality of its products remains high by using only high-grade North American hardwood and by processing the wood on site in its own wood dryers. Premontex sells its product across Canada and into the United States.

In the Contribution of Local Development category, the award was given to Wemogaz Enr., a gas station and convenience store that has been operating in the community of Wemotaci since February 2000. Before the company opened its doors, people in the community had to drive to La Tuque to buy their gas, a trip of almost two hours each way. In addition to gas, the business also supplies heating oil to many of the community's homes, as well as to a number of businesses operating in the area.

The Conseil de la Nation Huronne-Wendat won the Mishtapew Award in the Culture and Tourism category, in recognition of its efforts to revitalize the historic community of Old Wendake. The project is designed to preserve the past and make the heritage and culture of the area accessible to tourists.

The project includes development of Tsawenhohi House, an interpretive centre where visitors come to learn about Huron-Wendat culture and their way of life, as well as restoration of the historic chapel in the community and the addition of a pedestrian footpath along the Akiawenrak River.

In the Business Creation category, the Mishtapew Award went to Birch Bark Comics, a small company located in Listuguj that has created a comic book called Sacred Circles as a way to take Aboriginal stories and legends and put them in a modern context. The company has published two issues of the comic book, and is currently working on a third.

The award for Aboriginal Businesswoman was awarded to Jacinthe Petiquay of the Wemotaci-based company Transport Notcimik Inc. Petiquay, an Aboriginal businesswoman working in a sector of the economy dominated by men, was recognized for the work she has done within her company to work in partnership with the Aboriginal community, and to help develop both the local and regional economy. Among her accomplishments, Petiquay played an important role in the reactivation of the agreement between the Attikameks of Wemotaci and Hydro-Quebec regarding the control of vegetation growth under Hydro-Quebec's power lines.

The Solidarity Fund QFL, based in Montreal, was recognized in the Involvement in the Aboriginal Community category. The Solidarity Fund provides development capital and support services for small- and medium-sized businesses as a way to help create and maintain jobs in Quebec. The fund also works to ensure all its shareholders receive a fair return on their investment, something it has been successful in doing since it was first established in 1983. As of June of this year, the company had $4.6 billion in assets, and had more than 550,000 shareholders, most of them Quebec workers investing in their future, and in the future of the province.

In the National and International Profile category, Terres en Vues/Land InSights was recognized, marking the third year in a row the organization has received a Mishtapew Award. Land InSights, which works to promote Native culture both within Canada and internationally, has also taken home Mishtapew Awards in the Culture category, and in the Involvement in the French-Speaking Community category. The organization is best known for its work on the annual First People's Festival held in Montreal each June. In 2004, the festival will take place from June 10 to 21.

The award in the Natural Resources category was given to Les Pecheries Wulustuk-Conseil de la Premiere Nation Malecite de Viger, based in Cacouana. Since it was created in 2000, the company has been involved in commercial fishing, employing about 30 people. But soon, the company will be expanding its activities to include operation of an aquaculture facility. Once fully operational, the aquaculture operations will produce up to 50 metric tons of Arctic Char per year destined for regional, national and international markets, as well as up to 10 metric tons of brook trout that will be used to stock lakes and rivers.

The Emerging Professional Award went to Jonathan Mathias of Winneway Gaz and Winneway Supermarket, while Mathias' business was also recognized with the 2003 Special Merit Award. Mathias was recognized for the success he has achieved with his business, and the many obstacles he had to overcome in order to realize that success.

Those obstacles included having to do extensive renovations to the property and buildings after purchasing the business, and dealing with the challenges of starting up a business in a remote area, suc as getting supplies to not having access to banking and courier services. As a young entrepreneur entering into a new field, he also had to convince potential investors that he was a good risk, something he has proven by his business success.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Mishtapew Winners
Publication:Wind Speaker
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Words:1019
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