BoC and CreeCo host second annual AGA in Wemindji

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The Board of Compensation (BoC) and CreeCo held their second annual general assembly July 12-13 in Wemindji. Those in attendance heard detailed reports on the various enterprises under the CreeCo portfolio and positive news regarding the BoC.

“At the Board of Compensation, we are happy to report that the stock market portfolio has reached all-time highs of over $129 million in the Regular Fund,” Chairman Rusty Cheezo told the Nation. “The Growth Fund market value is over $88 million, almost six times the initial investment of $15 million in 1995.”

To keep things interesting at this year’s AGA, Cheezo said that informative history was mixed into the agenda with the general reports and activities from last year. There were also roundtable discussions where Crees could raise their concerns and discuss with board members and company presidents while notetakers jotted down what was mentioned.

“All participants were very concerned with the housing issue,” Cheezo observed. “And using the funds that we have to leverage and make an impact were ideas that have been raised on many occasions, not just at our assembly.”

Annual Assembly banner ACI President Matthew A. Happyjack

Cheezo reports that delegates were interested in using investment funds to benefit community growth in the form of guarantees or loans.

While the chairman said that questions about home and auto insurance are frequently brought up, that file is currently sitting with the Cree Nation Government. BoC/CreeCo are willing to collaborate if requested by the participants of the program.

Cheezo also added that comments from the roundtable discussion will be looked at by the executive committee before being transferred to their “think tank,” which evaluates whether or not the structure of certain companies need to be modified to be more effective or efficient.

Asked which companies under the CreeCo umbrella are growing and if any are downsizing, Cheezo mentioned Air Creebec, celebrating its 35th anniversary while growing significantly, enhancing its services and developing key partnerships such as the medevac service in collaboration with Propair.

ACI cake close-up ACI Board of Directors2

According to Cheezo, Gestion ADC (catering and janitorial services) has also been expanding, better meeting the needs of its existing clientele and providing much-needed services to the mining sector. The company has also been forging beneficial partnerships with communities and individuals in Eeyou Istchee that see 100% of the profits from those projects consolidated back into CreeCo.

On the downsizing side, Cheezo noted that Cree Construction has become “leaner and more efficient” as it adjusts to a more competitive industry where clients are demanding more value for their money. He insists that results are getting better as they “adapt to the new normal” in construction.

Finally, Cheezo was excited to share that Eenou Eeyou Realty Properties has interesting projects, including a potential high-rise development at its property on Duke Street in Montreal.

“We are very proud of all of our companies and partnerships under CreeCo,” he said. “Some [not mentioned here] are quietly going about their business and generating profits for the group year after year.”

Cheezo stressed that Crees want details on how their money is being spent and how crucial issues are being addressed.

“We have been listening to community members’ requests for more reporting,” he said. “When we held our community tours in 2014, one of the overwhelming comments was the appreciation for the detailed information being provided.”

In conclusion, Cheezo encouraged job seekers and students to visit for potential opportunities in the coming year.

“All of our companies are committed to providing meaningful Cree employment, and on our site we list job postings available in the companies,” he said. “CreeCo’s scholarship program is available to students studying in the fields related to our companies and the Board of Compensation Incentive Awards for graduates are ongoing with the recipients selected in collaboration with the Cree School Board.”

Cheezo thanked Chief Dennis Georgekish and the community of Wemindji for their hospitality during this year’s AGA and said that a resolution was passed on the location of next year’s assembly which represents a “significant milestone”.

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the BoC, with the third annual AGA to be held in Eastmain.

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