The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc band is looking for partners and opportunities as it navigates the future.
In his first speaking engagement since being elected to band council last November, Joshua Gottfriedson, told members of the Canadian Home Builders Association Central Interior (CHBA CI) recently his band is looking at joint-ventures to build capacity within its nation.
“The joint ventures are nice because we have great partners that really help us build that capacity so we can one day be that company that we’re looking at to build that infrastructure in our community,” Gottfriedson said.
The 37-year-old, who has a business background, said the band’s main revenue sources are leasing, taxation, revenue sharing of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and the First Nation’s owned businesses, but it’s looking to diversify its revenue sources and self-sustainability.
Gottfriedson said the band is also expanding the businesses it owns, which include a wood lot, a forestry development corporation and the Metro Canada gas station and car wash on the reserve.
That business expansion is being seeing with the establishment of a currently under development grocery store — which will be the first of it’s kind on the reserve when it opens in 2023.
Tk’emlups is also trying to increase revenue to its current businesses through projects such as adding Tesla charging stations at it’s gas station, which are on track to be installed in the spring, he said.
Gottfriedson also noted a number of infrastructure projects on the band’s list for the reserve, such as the need to install a round-about for better traffic flow at the bottom of its Sun Rivers housing development, which has some 2,500 residents.
Public transit services on the reserve, which was brought into existence in 2018, has been a “big step” for Tk’emlups, Gottfriedsson said, adding now it requires expansion of hours and frequency.
In the next five to 10 years, Tk’emlups will be looking for clean energy sources, such as renewable natural gas, clean diesel, solar power and electric cars, he said.
The band also has a goal to facilitate recruitment and retention of Indigenous employees with its partner organizations and committing to cultural orientation with those partners.
Looking ahead, Gottfriedsson also noted, the First Nation has historically operated based on a system established for bands by the federal government and not by them, and the band must get to a place in its history where it’s determining its own policy and procedures by which it does business.
“We need to really think about how we’re operating in the system and how it needs to suit us and culturally match us as people and only then will we really be successful,” Gottfriedsson said.