Pasqua First Nation is a Force in Business
In the extremely early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, something about the news from Wuhan, China made Pasqua First Nation Chief Matthew Peigan take notice. He began working with his team to prepare Pasqua First Nation with PPE and the facilities the community might need. That foresight would prove invaluable. By the time COVID-19 reached Canada, the First Nation was ready to protect itself—and giving advice on how to prepare. At the same time, the federal government was asking the country’s manufacturers to consider retooling to meet the demand for PPE and other goods to protect Canadians. The Pasqua First Nation Group of Companies (PFN Group) is also the owner of Pro Metal Industries Ltd., a civil construction and metal fabrication company. “We retooled immediately to supply hand sanitizer stands, portable hand washing stations, isolation shelters and desk shields,” says Peigan. “That work would also form our newest company, SAGE Pro Protect.”
The retooling work not only helped with the pandemic—it also provided Pro Metal with an unexpected boost. The company was acquired by PFN Group in 2015, and the pandemic retooling took Pro Metal to the next level. “We learned what Pro Metal was capable of in 2020, and have now doubled our revenue,” says CEO Richard Missens. Missens, a former business professor at First Nations University and Pasqua First Nation member, joined the PFN Group in 2019. Missens now oversees the PFN Group, looking for opportunities to create jobs and grow wealth for the First Nation. Pro Metal’s revitalization also dovetailed with another move PFN Group began two years earlier.
“In 2018, PFN also invested in a British aerospace company that taught us a lot about working in the military and defense space,” says Missens. Today, Pro Metal has its controlled goods certification from Canada’s Ministry of Defense and builds classified parts for the military. “There isn’t much involvement in defense from First Nations and we’re working to change that,” says Peigan. With the Canadian defense sector earmarking $4 billion for capital spending, maintenance and procurement, the potential is staggering—and PFN Group is the largest Indigenous-owned military and defense provider in the country.
The Big Picture
Beyond Pro Metal, PFN has a growing portfolio of companies that are creating prosperity for the people of Pasqua First Nation, as well as a unique corporate alliance that serves the community well. PFN Group’s business development manager Treena Amyotte leads the corporate alliance initiative.
“In 2020, Treena had a look at our previous contracts and agreements—many were expired—and started making some phone calls,” says Missens. “She built a network of companies across various sectors where we can work together to bid on contracts for everyone’s benefit.” The alliance allows PFN Group to seek a variety of opportunities and bring partners to the table. “Whether we’re talking finder’s fee-style agreements or whole projects, our alliance helps us, and our partners do business,” says Missens.
Amyotte set to work rebranding PFN Group and building the company’s online presence. “The results of our efforts and work have been excellent,” she says. “Our brand work has led to many inquiries about partnerships and investment opportunities.” PFN is also building more capacity and recently hired Kenneth Bear—one of a handful of First Nations agrologists in Canada as the agricultural development manager for the company. “We understand the need and value in having competent and capable people on our team,” says Amyotte.
Beyond its powerful alliance, PFN Group is also a major shareholder in an innovative cannabis venture based in Alberta. Atlas Growers is a privately held producer based in Edmonton with a line of high-grade medical cannabis products. The company has a significant contract to provide medical cannabis to Shoppers Drug Mart, and to a network of medical schools—such as the University of Alberta, Bristol University in the UK and Harvard University’s Medical School—to advance work on how cannabis can be used in medicine.
PFN invested in Atlas because it identified the significant, long-term economic opportunity it held. “We focus on unique investments that don’t come around often,” says Peigan. “Unlike other cannabis companies which grew too fast and are now struggling, Atlas has taken a more measured approach to the cannabis market which has paid off.”
Beyond its current investments, PFN Group is always looking for its next venture.
It has also made forays into real estate, with the recent acquisition of five commercial parcels in Fort Qu’Appelle, perfect for retail or hospitality development. PFN Group also owns 10 quarter-sections of farmland, and is looking at ways to grow into sustainable agriculture through its own Pasqua Farms Inc. They are also in the research and development space, especially when it comes to energy. “Whatever your interests—joining our alliance of partners, looking for investment, or seeking partners, we want to do business,” says Missens. “We’re open to all ideas and sectors.”
Chief Peigan agrees. “We’re open to ideas where we can invest for the future in a safe, prudent manner. We review each investment, and we’re open to partnerships as majority or minority shareholders,” says Peigan. “The first thing companies need to do is reach out. Our door is always open. Let’s talk and see how we can work together.”
Learn more at pfngroupinc.com.