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Stronger Together

The partnerships in the Willow Lake Métis Group drive positive, lasting change while promoting reconciliation.

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Photo by Rebecca LippIatt

Willow Lake Métis Group (WLMG) is the bridge between reconciliation and community prosperity, ushering in a new perspective on Indigenous partnerships and offering both Nation Citizens and clients meaningful benefits that drive long-term success. The partners within WLMG share the values of the Métis peoples’ rich culture of self-sufficiency, hard work, determination and resiliency.

APEX Well Servicing Inc.

APEX provides services to the oil and gas industry in Western Canada and the Northern United States.

Patrick James, Business Development Manager, says, “APEX’s five core services include heat and pressure, service rigs, rod rigs, continuous rod and continuous rod retail.”

APEX joined WLMG in 2021.

Bradley Sinclair, Indigenous Relations Director, says, “APEX recognizes and appreciates the unique qualities, abilities and diversities of Indigenous people and their relationship with their lands and environment. Through open communication, we develop positive relationships with Indigenous people that are based on trust, honesty and integrity. APEX commits to creating relationships with Indigenous and First Nation Peoples in areas where traditional lands and or communities are close to or are affected by projects and our operations.”

James concludes, “Working with an Indigenous community helps APEX build knowledge and understanding of the history of Indigenous people.”

Backwoods Energy Services

Backwoods Energy Services, 100 per cent owned by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, provides construction services to the oil, gas, utility and forestry industries in Western Canada while driving economic opportunity by empowering Indigenous people and communities. Chief Tony says of Backwoods, “We have not seen the entire landscape of what we can do, but we know we have a very strong team and the future is bright for Backwoods.”

WLMG and Backwoods Energy Services finalized the legal partnership in early 2021 but have worked together since 2020.

Ross Morrison, SVP, Business Development & Partnerships, says, “Traditionally the industry looks at us as Treaty 6 West. Now we have the resources to service Treaty 8. The partnership with WLMG has allowed Backwoods to interface with a new roster of clients and eliminate geographical confinement. We have expanded our economic territory while also diversifying our commercial relationships.”

Edge Energy Logistics

Edge Energy Logistics is a transportation company providing service to the oil and gas, rail, forestry and construction sectors. Edge specializes in drilling and service rig moves and tubular hauling and storage.

“Multiple locations strategically located throughout Alberta allow us to service a large area and customer base while keeping travel costs between branches down, resulting in savings to our customers,” says President Dustin Rizzoli.

Edge joined WLMG in 2022.

“Our original working relationship started as a result of work requested to perform at CNOOC Long Lake,” explains Chris Rizzoli, General Manager. “We are an Aboriginally Owned Business and knew working with WLMG would be a very good fit. It helps to ensure potential work stays within our region, employs Aboriginal personnel and contributes to the Willow Lake Métis Nation. The partnership has also increased our brand recognition through the marketing WLMG does on our behalf.”

GFL Environmental Inc.

Partnered with WLMG to form JV Willow Lake GFL Environmental Services LP

GFL Environmental is the only major diversified environmental services company in North America offering services in solid waste management, environmental services and soil remediation.

“Our joint venture with WLMG includes chemical cleaning, high pressure water blasting, vacuuming, hydro excavation and tank cleaning,” says Sharelle Wiebe, Contracts & Business Development Manager, Industrial Services.

GFL joined the WLMG partnership in March 2021.

Dan Richards, Vice President, Industrial Services, Western Canada, adds, “We are committed to engaging the Indigenous communities upon whose treaty lands and traditional territories we work. WLMG is a key partner and we are committed to building mutual trust based on our shared values to enhance the economic and capacity-building opportunities which benefit the community members and help protect and sustain their lands.”

Wiebe concludes, “With the WLMG industry partners offering services that complement each other, we grow together while supporting the Willow Lake Métis community.”

GrizzlyTrek

GrizzlyTrek’s goal is to generate long-lasting, sustainable employment opportunities for Indigenous individuals throughout Canada.

President and CEO Allen Tobber says, “By partnering with Indigenous communities like WLMG, we can integrate within various industries to increase Indigenous workforce participation in the region and contribute economically to these communities. We offer a range of skilled labour, from entry-level positions to senior project management roles in oil and gas operations, maintenance and construction.”

GrizzlyTrek joined WLMG in March of 2022.

“Collaborating with WLMG and their strategic partners has been an incredibly rewarding experience. We have already witnessed significant opportunities and the employment of Indigenous individuals across various projects,” explains Tobber.

He concludes, “Presently, we have Indigenous workers that are actively participating in shutdown and construction projects. In addition, we have teamed up with a producer to create opportunities for a junior operator role and a power engineer position at one of the Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) facilities.

Maviro

Maviro is comprised of a team of project managers, engineers, equipment operators, technicians, chemists, HSE specialists, and veteran foremen that work together to provide specialty catalyst and pigging services throughout Canada.

“We joined WLMG four years ago, as we were looking to partner with a group that had other proven service providers that would synergize with what we bring to the table,” says Jason Manoukian, VP Business Development.

Chris Boase, Senior VP, adds, “The WLMG partnership has effectively brought Maviro together with other professionals in the industry and made us part of a team. This team has allowed us to cast a wider net by giving us the ability to approach clients with bundle packages. Moreover, this team approach provides both expertise as well as the ability to quickly staff personnel needs.”

Melloy Industrial Services Inc.

Melloy Industrial are maintenance, turnaround and project specialists that perform complex equipment repairs, piping repairs, change outs and installations in the heavy industrial market through Western Canada. They excel in their ability to swiftly adapt and provide a dedicated team of professionals to efficiently execute the required work.

Mitch Soetaert, Vice President and District Manager explains, “Melloy provides integrated construction services including engineering; modular design; large-scale fabrication and civil, general mechanical, electrical and instrumentation work. Our lean construction principles make us flexible enough to tackle a job of any size and as part of the PCL family of companies, we have the resources and expertise to offer full capacity no matter how complex the project.”

Melloy joined WLMG in 2020.

Allan Rose, Business Services Manager, says, “Being part of the success of WLMG is important to us; supporting cultural events, generating revenue, providing training and employment opportunities.”

Melloy is very committed to reconciliation and has taken steps to educate their teams through DE&I initiatives, including collaborating with WLMG on creating orange shirts in support of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Radium Technologies Inc.

General contractor Radium Technologies offers a skilled trades force for field work as well as a pump and valve rebuild shop.

“With a shared drive for business transparency and collaboration, as well as a commitment to giving back to the communities we work in, Radium joined the WLMG in 2022,” says Dan Forigo, Chief Corporate Officer. “The strength of the partnership has been in the networking and collaboration opportunities with others within the group and our resultant ability to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ to clients.”

This was recently demonstrated when a client jokingly asked if Radium could supply a scaffold team, and the answer was yes, due to the group’s relationships.

“Additionally,” Forigo adds, “support offered by Andy Harnett (newly appointed CEO) in ways such as a personal Suncor/Syncrude tour and promotion of Radium in his meetings, has been a tremendous asset.”

Skyway Canada Ltd.

Skyway provides services coast to coast, including scaffolding, insulation, fireproofing, swing stage, asbestos abatement, and more.

“We specialize in customized services using 3D design, modeling and scanning technologies that optimize planning and execution to provide solutions that lower labour requirements, increase productivity, reduce cost and provide cost certainty,” says Dean Dancey, Vice President of Western Canada.

He describes the partnership with WLMG and why Skyway joined in 2020.

“WLMG is taking a progressive, creative, passionate approach to inclusivity. Skyway and WLMG are coming together, along with Willow Lake’s other partners, to contribute to industry success while helping serve the goals of the Citizens of the Willow Lake Métis Community. This is our opportunity to work together and to touch the sky, which is ultimately a win/win for all stakeholders.”

Spence Corrosion Services Ltd.

Spence provides corrosion and erosion services in Western Canada by offering rubber linings, coatings, specialized linings, abrasive blasting, water jetting and inspections. The company recognizes the importance of active community engagement as the key to successful long-term projects.

“We decided in 2021 to increase our involvement with the communities in and around the areas we work. We came across WLMG and they were a good fit and logical choice for us,” says Mackay Spence, VP of Operations. “We have benefited from the partnership by increasing our network and connections as we work and collaborate with the other partners.

He concludes, “WLMG members have valuable information and experience that help us better serve our customers and explore new opportunities.”

WQS Group of Companies

WQS Group of Companies provides accurate, dependable and reliable inspection and rope access services. They aim to be Canada’s trusted leader in NDT and field evaluation services that protect the environment, clients’ assets and the people and communities they serve.

Travis Drew, CEO, describes why WQS Group joined WLMG in 2023.

“As a very new entity within the WLMG, WQS is excited to be amongst industry-leading contractors with similar values and shared goals. Our partnership is guided by our corporate value of connection. We honour our roots as an Indigenous company and let our heritage guide us on our journey, with the intention of creating a partnership that will strengthen the communities in which we serve. WQS looks forward to working with industry leaders to develop long-term strategic contracting opportunities within Willow Lake traditional lands, creating economic stability for the community of the Willow Lake Métis.”

We are all Stronger Together

WLMG is leading the way in showing how business and culture can connect, bridge gaps and have a positive effect in the province – and beyond.

Andy Harnett, CEO for WLMG says, “We have strategically chosen partnerships that align with the Nation’s mission and values.”

The Group was founded in 2020 and has substantially grown in a very short time. With the strong desire for continued success, they recently welcomed their new Board of Directors to govern the group of companies.

“The collaboration that we see amongst the group allows us to continue to grow, develop and prosper. With all of our partnerships, we now have the ability to be a turnkey service provider; your strategic indigenous industry partner,” says Harnett.

Alberta’s leaders working together on this collaborative partnership, defines how the Willow Lake Métis Group is stronger together.

www.willowlakemetisgroup.ca

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