Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson was the keynote speaker at an Indigenous Business Gathering in Saskatoon this week.

Cook-Searson shared the story of the formation of Kitsaki Management and the recent success the band’s economic development arm has had over the past few years, bringing $160 million in wealth to the nation.

During her address, Cook-Searson, who is the President of the economic development company, spoke on the difficulty the band had in forming Kitsaki in 1981 and the many road blocks they faced. However, she would then highlight the success the company has found in recent years.

When speaking with MBC Radio News after the keynote, the LLRIB Chief says she wanted to showcase the success of Kitsaki.

“I just wanted to encourage others in the room here that we’re here to do business with them and along side them,” she said. “There are many First Nations and Metis businesses that are thriving and we want to get together and work together.”

Kitsaki Management has a large portfolio with investments in mining and transportation. Recent years has seen the economic development arm creating more partnerships in the IT sector. Cook-Searson says the company makes sure to do their homework to ensure their investments are sustainable and profitable.

“We are very selective in the businesses we go into,” she said. “When we do go into business, we make sure we provide top notch customer service – not because you’re an Indigenous-owned company, but because you are providing the best service for your customer.”

Cook-Searson also says it is a fortuitous time for Indigenous investment with more socially aware businesses and duty to consult and accommodate policies leading the way.

“There’s more engagement and more Indigenous communities wanting to be partners. There is a lot more activity.”

Looking to 2024, Cook-Searson says the plan is to build Kitsaki even more, working from its strengths and maybe starting some new ventures.

“We always follow what the management team has for the board,” she said. “We have a really strong management team that is always looking out for investment opportunities.”