© 2016 WLON Distribution

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation Celebrates

New Business Start-Up

December 7, 2005

Members of the Wabigoon

Lake First Nation hosted

guests and dignitaries at an

open house commemorating

the start of a new business

venture this past week.

Through a number of

partnerships, WLON

Distribution Ltd. Specializes

in minority aboriginal

distribution and procurement

opportunities with large

corporations and government

with a variety of product lines

including industrial strength

environmentally friendly

cleaning products, locally produced wild rice products, Arcticshield outdoor apparel, as well as business and forestry consulting.


Perhaps the most promising ventures are agreements forged with Weyerhaeuser and Bowater to supply their forestry operations with Wabigoon brand industrial cleaning products, developed by Wisconsin-based North American Bioindustries Corp. and supplied to WLON by Acklands-Grainger.

With the forestry companies using resources found within the traditional land-use of the First Nations, general manager James Kroeker says the companies are receptive to initiatives that help First Nations reap some of the economic benefits of resource extraction.

"Where there is things that we can develop for mutual benefit, we will take those things and carry them forward with the support of both sides," said Kroeker. "Weyerhaeuser is getting something competitively priced and does at least as good of a job if not better and is more environmentally friendly."

Weyerhaeuser's Sharon Morin said the company is working to expand their current purchase agreement with WLON Distribution.

The company is a certified aboriginal supplier with the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council - an element that helps to open some doors for the business. Kroeker says many large corporations have a minority content objective and Aboriginal organizations have advantage in the tendering process when supplying goods and services to the federal government.

A staff of three currently operates the company, though Kroeker says there is great potential for growth in coming years, particularly in the communications and technology aspects of the venture.

"As we grow, we're going to continue to provide good opportunities in marketing and probably IT (internet technology) as well," said Kroeker. "It could potentially grow, within the next few years to six, and over a longer period, to ten employees."

The company's website, 'wlondistribution.ca', was largely developed by Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation resident and WLON administration clerk Nick Norris.

"He, almost singlehandedly, put up our website," Kroeker said. "It's really nice. It's something where the youth can get into things that they really have an interest in. There will be training opportunities for that and job opportunities for the future."

The company has also partnered with Dryden's BKK Enterprises, searching out new markets for the Arcticshield clothing line.

"We're talking with some far north mineral resource users and we also have contacts in the oil fields," said Kroeker. "We're also targeting federal government procurement - we think there are applications for them with the Arcticshield rugged outer-wear."

WLON Chief Esther Pitchenese says her community welcomes the business venture and the economic development it will foster.

"This is a day that makes us very proud," said Chief Pitchenese. "Our First Nation sees business development and economic independence as a cornerstone for our future. Our people deserve good well-paying jobs like anyone else. We continue to move on our path to achieving this."

With an opening prayer by Elder George Brown, the open house hosted a variety of speakers, including Treaty Three Grand Chief Ogichidaa Arnold Gardner, Dryden Mayor Anne Krassilowsky, Dryden Chamber of Commerce's Pam Brown and Kenora Riding MP Roger Valley.

Valley says the initiative is a great step forward for the community.

"It's going to be good for everyone in Northern Ontario," said Valley. "I think this shows local leadership which is what is needed if you want projects to move forward. If partnerships can be formed and people can work together, we're going to provide employment and encourage confidence in the community."