New Film Promotes Business Opps In Athabasca Basin

Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 12:20



Residents of Saskatchewan’s far north want to form more business partnerships to tap into the region’s potential for economic development — and to do so, they’ve turned to the silver screen as a way to promote themselves.


“Athabasca: Where the Spirit Flies”, an 18-minute, documentary-style film produced by Thomega Entertainment for the Athabasca Economic Development and Training Corporation (AEDTC), was screened publicly for the first time yesterday afternoon in Prince Albert.


Amongst the 100 or so people to see the film’s debut was Jim Glass, one of the managing partners of Transwest Air.


As an airline, Transwest does much of its business in the Athabasca Basin, and operates several planes owned by the three local First Nations.


Glass says he was pleased to see on film an affirmation of northerners’ efforts to improve their own economy — and he knows that as the region grows from within, both the communities and partners such as Transwest will benefit.


“Economic activity is a good thing for air services, especially in areas like northern Saskatchewan, where there’s limited or no road access. And even when it brings roads in to communities, it actually benefits the air service as well, because it brings economic activity to the north that wasn’t accessible before,” he says.


Randy Johns, CEO of the northern information technology company KCDC, was another impressed viewer.


Johns says the film offers a good representation of what Athabasca residents want for their region.


“It’s a community-led view, as opposed to people coming in from the outside and saying, ‘Well, we need this, we want that.’ The communities are sending a message to people from the outside, saying, ‘We’re ready to partner, and we’re ready to do business,’ basically,” he says.


Johns says that before seeing the film, he wasn’t aware of “the level and number” of partnerships that have already been established within the region, and he is excited by the future possibilities.


Meanwhile, AEDTC chair Glen Strong says he hopes the group’s new film will open more eyes to the region’s potential.


Strong says that after decades of isolation, the film screening was a chance for the seven Athabasca Basin communities both to showcase what is happening in the region now, and promote their openness to new business partnerships.


“We want to become players in the development that’s happening within the Athabasca, in northern Saskatchewan, in all of Saskatchewan, and we want to be players in all of Canada. So this gives us an opportunity to bring a glimpse of the people, the communities and the land of the Athabasca Basin to the rest of the province,” he says.


Strong says from the feedback he’s had so far, people are enthusiastic about what they’re learning about the Basin from the film, and he’s hoping that both government and businesses will be equally receptive to what it has to show and teach.