The Det’on Cho Corporation is looking to expand their portfolio as they celebrate 30 years of business in the North.

Paul Gruner, President and CEO of Det’on Cho , left and Bobby Drygeese one of the corporation’s board members stand outside the corporation’s 30th anniversary celebrations. Dylan Short/NNSL photo

The corporation celebrated 30 years of service at the G and G Expediting airport hangar on Wednesday and as it did so, the location of the event may have served as a sign of the future.

The corporation’s management team said that it is looking to expand into other areas of business as diamond mining in the territory looks to be coming to a close down the road. This was noted when G and G Expediting was acquired last January and, and also as the corporation won four out of the five major contracts of the massive Giant Mine remediation project.

“We know the (mining sector) is not sustainable forever. So part of our job as the leadership team, the board and the first nation in general is looking at ways that you can build a capacity that’s beyond just those odd years or the resource sector itself right,” said Paul Gruner, president and CEO of Det’on Cho. “So something like G and G is a perfect example where we do work that’s outside the mining sector … We’re doing a lot of work with Giant Mine, reclamation and remediation, that’s an area that we want to expand on.”

In terms of the Giant Mine remediation, Gruner said that the corporation – that serves as the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) economic development arm – already had the care and maintenance contracts with Giant, but that it was important for the corporation to maintain those contracts when they were tendered.

Chief of Ndilo Ernest Betsina said now that they have those contracts they will be able to create close to 80 new jobs for Northerners.

“So Det’on Cho is ramping up (at Giant) trying to line everything up to make the project run as smooth as possible. Working with certain companies and informing our members that we’re going to be hiring soon and getting people training and education,” he said.

Said Ed Sangris, the chief of Dettah: “It’s quite important for our community and the community of the territories. It’s something that we’re looking to, it took a lot of lobbying on our part and trying to achieve those max benefits to Northerners especially to the Yellowknives Dene,”

The chiefs added that it is important that the First Nations community will be able to see some benefits come from the mines after a history of contentious relations between the mines and the YKDFN.

“The Yellowknives Dene being most impacted by Giant and the outfall of Giant and the industry and the collapse of the environment … you know this is Yellowknives Dene traditional territory and we haven’t got anything from both Giant and Con so we need to benefit from the clean-up. All the outcome and contracts that come out of remediation,” said Sangris.

Moving forward, the corporation will soon be looking at getting those positions filled and will look to partner with other Northern businesses to help with the clean-up. However as they move forward, Betsina adds that First Nations will continue to work on reconciliation as well as remediation.

“As Yellowknives Dene chiefs we still have a mandate to seek an apology and a conversation so were still trying to seek those,” said Betsina.

Det’on Cho first started in 1988 with a $15,000 government grant, 30 years later they employ 600 to 800 people across 15 different companies.

“The chief and council got together and strategized on making Det’on Cho more open and visible and open for business and that’s where we grew from. In 2008 we were voted 500 most advancing business in Canada, from there it just grew in partnership and it came from a lot of work along the way and a lot of meetings but we finally got here so it’s pretty interesting,” said Sangris.

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