First band-owned Tim Hor­tons opens

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - ARTHUR WHITE-CRUM­MEY awhite-crum­mey@post­media.com

When Keri Ponace learned a Tim Hor­tons was open­ing on Saki­may First Na­tion land on Regina’s out­skirts, she was de­ter­mined to be a part of it from the be­gin­ning.

She’s ex­cited to work on her band’s own land — es­pe­cially in a cof­fee shop.

“Every­one loves Tim Hor­tons cof­fee, so I thought it would be an in­ter­est­ing en­deav­our,” she said at Tues­day’s grand open­ing. “Hope­fully I can be­come a man­ager. My goal is to have more of a lead­er­ship (role), so I can show other peo­ple what they can do.”

Ponace is now a su­per­vi­sor in train­ing at the first band-owned Tim Hor­tons fran­chise in the Regina area, and only the sec­ond in Saskatchewan. The shop near Dewd­ney Av­enue and Pinkie Road is the new­est tenant to move into the grow­ing Saulteaux Cross­ing Busi­ness Park, on Saki­may land wedged be­tween the Westerra sub­di­vi­sion and the Global Trans­porta­tion Hub.

Saki­may Chief Lynn Acoose said the open­ing was the “cul­mi­na­tion of a dream.” The band has long sought to set up a Tim Hor­tons fran­chise, which she said will pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for First Na­tions youth. That was part of the man­date she gave to the op­er­a­tors, Doyle Hos­pi­tal­ity.

“We talked to them early on about en­sur­ing that In­dige­nous peo­ple par­tic­i­pate here as em­ploy­ees, not only as counter staff, but as su­per­vi­sors and man­agers,” Acoose said. “They ’re groom­ing peo­ple to even­tu­ally man­age our store.”

As of Tues­day, 75 per cent of the em­ploy­ees are In­dige­nous, com­ing from nu­mer­ous First Na­tions, not just Saki­may. The chief is pleased to see Ponace be­hind the counter, and is con­fi­dent she’ll make a good su­per­vi­sor, not­ing the young mother has al­ways been “re­ally driven for her fam­ily and her com­mu­nity.”

For Acoose, it’s im­por­tant for her band mem­bers to have the op­tion of work­ing on their own land.

“We want to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for our peo­ple to have work on re­serve, so they can en­joy the ben­e­fits of be­ing a treaty per­son and work­ing on treaty land,” the chief said.

The open­ing cer­e­mony at­tracted politi­cians from the city, the prov­ince and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. For­mer Regina mayor Pat Fi­acco at­tended in his role as CEO of Saki­may ’s busi­ness arm, Four Horse De­vel­op­ments.

Fi­acco said the fran­chise will soon be fol­lowed by an­other tenant in the same build­ing, which al­ready houses an Esso con­ve­nience store. He has big plans for the rest of the 250-acre ex­panse of band ter­ri­tory.

“The most ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ment will be at the corner, where the old Sal­teaux gas sta­tion was lo­cated,” he said. “There’s a huge op­por­tu­nity for us to build an In­dige­nous cul­tural cen­tre.”

He said the cul­tural cen­tre might come with a con­ven­tion cen­tre, as well as a nearby ho­tel. Acoose sees the project as a com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial “hub” for the Westerra com­mu­nity.

Ponace said the de­vel­op­ment makes her “proud to be a Saki­ma­niac.”

“For me, it means a great deal,” she said. “It’s just be­ing part of my re­serve, my peo­ple, and lead­ing Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple here. (That’s) what we’re try­ing to do.”

TROY FLEECE

Saki­may First Na­tion Chief Lynn Acoose, fourth from left, pours cof­fee at the Saulteaux Cross­ing Busi­ness Park Esso Gas and Con­ve­nience Store just west of Regina. Acoose says open­ing the first band-owned Tim Hor­tons in the Regina area is the “cul­mi­na­tion of a dream.”

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