The Nekaneet First Nation and Meckelborg Financial Group have collaborated to start the Wiyotisiwin Investment Management Firm.
“This new company is a true step towards reconciliation as we look towards building intergenerational wealth and investment management for First Nations all across Canada,” said Nekaneet First Nation Chief Alvin Francis.
The idea is for First Nation communities to have better access to their investors and capital funds.
“Why do I need to go across the country to find someone to invest my money when we can do it locally,” asked Francis.
Nekaneet First Nation was the first to come on board with the project, but the company is hoping to expand and offer their services to other nations.
“It’s something that has never been done before, but it’s been talked about,” said Rob Woods, founding partner with Wiyotisiwin.
Woods claimed that access to capital is one of the most pressing questions for First Nations people.
First Nations investment industries are often deemed as high risk, which makes it difficult for First Nations to leverage their land and assets.
“We are fully reliant on commercial paper and debt to get into business,” said Woods.
The company said the partnership will offer more say in First Nation-sponsored opportunities and projects in the future.
“Really it’s about economic development,” said Francis. “It’s about where we want to be situated.”
He said they are located in a prime location on a number one highway and that is where they feel they can best invest their money.
“Whether it be electrical charging for vehicles or the gas, whatever it be.”
Francis explained that the population is growing quickly. When he became the chief, the nation had a population of 472 people. In six years, the population has grown to 578.
“What if that growth keeps happening? How are we going to keep up,” asked Francis.
He said that investment dollars are going to be the solution, through economic development and job growth within the community.
“I want to see the person sitting next to me to have a good job, make a good wage and raise their families.”
The company is hoping to have more Saskatchewan First Nations jump on board as the project develops.