A homeowner in Inuvik is wondering why his home is listed as the Inuvik office for the company selected by Northwest Territories Power Corporation to construct the access road to Inuvik’s upcoming Wind Power station.

Brandon Johnston has lived at 7 Carmichael Dr. for several years, but said the first time he had ever heard of ONEC Nations Ltd. wasn’t until asked why the company listed his home as their Inuvik office.

“I am the owner of 7 Carmichael Dr. East,” said Johnston. “And I have have no idea who ONEC Nations Ltd. is.

”I have zero involvement with them and I am curious as to why my address is on there.”

A screenshot of ONEC Nations Ltd.’s website as of May 12, showing two NWT contact addresses. People at both addresses confirmed ONEC Nations Ltd. did not do business at either location. Screenshot courtesy ONEC Nations Ltd.

It’s not the only inaccurate NWT address on the ONEC Nations Ltd. website as of May 12 — which says the site is copy-written up to 2022. A second address is listed for the company’s Yellowknife office at 5016-47th Street. However when a news reporter went to the building to confirm the address, there was no listing of the company on the building’s register — only the NWT Literacy Council, which owns the building, and Primerica Insurance Agency.

An employee of Primerica Yellowknife, Jennifer Andrews, confirmed ONEC did not have an office in the building.

“There’s us, and there’s a psychologist and then the literacy council,” she said.

NTPC communications manager Doug Prendergast said ONEC was the lone company to submit a bid out of four companies invited to do so.

He said the company had “more than 20 years experience in engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance.”

The website for the ONEC Group of Companies describes themselves similarly. The company lists ONEC Nations Ltd. as the division responsible for managing Indigenous Partnerships.

ONEC’s main office is in Edmonton, Alberta. It also maintains offices in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Oregon and California.

“NT Energy’s review of the submitted bid identified that the ONEC/Northland Builders consortium had extensive experience working on projects in the North and was qualified to construct the access road,” he added.

The front door of 5016 47 St, Yellowknife. A representative from Primerica confirmed ONEC Nations Ltd. did not have an office in the building. Ethan Butterfield/NNSL photo

A corporate search of ONEC Nations Ltd. lists the company as in default. The company was formerly called ONEC Adams but changed its name on Aug. 27, 2021. Both Northland Builders Ltd. and ONEC Nations Ltd. list Rob Adams as the director, president and CEO. The company officially incorporated in the NWT in 2017, whereas Northland Builders Ltd. was incorporated in 2020.

Inuvik Drum has reached out to Adams, NTPC and the GTC for further comment.

Directed Tendering approved by cabinet

An internal GNWT email obtained by Inuvik Drum reveals cabinet voted to give the go ahead for the Gwich’in Tribal Council for a “directed tendering” process, meaning the GTC was allowed to select specific companies for Northwest Territories Energy Corporation (NTEC) to invite to bid on the project instead of an open tender.

“As you are aware there were numerous challenges with securing the necessary permitting and support from the Gwich’in Land and Water Board and the Nih’tat Board,” said Infrastructure Minister Diane Archie in the email. “In November of last year, myself and officials from Infrastructure and Northwest Territories Power Corporation met with the GTC and Nih’tat Leadership to try and move this project forward in order not to jeopardize the funding from the Federal Government. We came to an understanding on working together and I left it to the Infrastructure and NTPC officials work out the details with GTC and the Nih’tat.

“The resulting procurement approach on the Inuvik Wind Project using directed tendering was approved by Cabinet in March of 2021.”

An email from Infrastructure Minister Diane Archie obtained by the Inuvik Drum states cabinet voted to allow for a directed tendering process in March of 2021.

Both the GTC and NTEC confirmed a shortlist of four companies was submitted to be invited to bid.

“NT Energy recognizes the importance of maximizing local benefits and the importance of supporting reconciliation with economic opportunities,” said Prendergast. “NT Energy relied on the Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) to identify the Indigenous owned companies to be included as part of the invitational Request For Proposals (RFP). To ensure that Indigenous-owned companies benefited from the Inuvik Wind project, NT Energy determined that an invitational RFP was appropriate for the contract to build the access road. The GTC and the Department of Infrastructure supported this approach. With four businesses approached in the invitational RFP, it was expected there would be several bids received from local contractors. However, only one bid was received. This bid was submitted by one of the four qualified Gwich‘in businesses and included plans to complete the project with the support of other local Gwich ‘in businesses, including some of the other businesses that had been invited to participate in the invitational RFP.

“The successful bid was submitted by ONEC/Northland Builders, which leads the consortium of Gwich‘in businesses.”

GTC Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik said the consortium of businesses consisted of Bob’s Welding Ltd., Nanzu Environmental, Nehtr’uh EBA Consulting and Deetrin Geomatics.

He noted the GTC was asked by NTEC to provide the shortlist of companies, but added the GTC was eager to ensure projects within the Gwich’in Settlement Area are awarded to Gwich’in businesses.

“It is the expectation of GTC that this preferential contracting occurs for any work in the GSA,” he said. “In accordance with Chapter 10 of the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (GCLCA), the Governments of Canada and the NWT commit to working with the Gwich’in Tribal Council to develop our economy and maximize opportunities for Gwich’in businesses and individuals for any work undertaken in the GSA.

“To this end the GTC is currently seeking an updated agreement with the GNWT to actively promote, recommend and select eligible registered Gwich’in-owned businesses with capacity for work within the GSA under a preferential contracting and procurement model.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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