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Dogrib take control

Andrea Markey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 04/05) - Behcho Ko Development Corp. is celebrating.

On June 30, one of the largest logistics companies in the North officially became 100 per cent Dogrib-owned.

The corporation has been surging lately.

The Dogrib-owned and operated company has grown to more than 300 employees from just six in less than four years. Annual consolidated revenues stand at $55 million from its nine companies.

The workforce could expand to more than 600 employees if the three other Tlicho communities - Wekweti, Wha Ti and Gameti - become involved in a regional effort, said George MacKenzie, president of Behcho Ko.

Formed in 1999, Tli Cho Logistics was a joint venture between ATCO Frontec and the Rae Band. The 10-year management agreement for the mine-servicing company was based on capacity building.

After only six years the company is ready to fly on its own, MacKenzie said.

Complete ownership means more flexibility and ensures 100 per cent of the profit stays in the communities, he said.

"In big companies, all the money goes to individuals or single families," he said. "Here, we are working for all Dogrib people. Eventually, all will benefit from the success of the companies."

The signing of business contracts will take place in schools so students can see and understand it, he said.

The Tlicho communities of Wha Ti and Gameti had a new company building the winter roads last season.

Tli Cho Road Constructors is now one of the largest winter road builders in the North after Behcho Ko combined Nishi-Khon Freeway and the winter road construction portion of Tli Cho Landtran.

Long winter road

The paperwork is still being completed, but the company made 445 km of winter road last year.

It plans to log even more kilometres this year after securing the contract for the winter sideroads to De Beers' Snap Lake site and the Colomac mine.

Behcho Ko already offers students scholarships in nursing, teaching or social work to help meet needs in Dogrib communities and there are plans to add business management and technical trades.

"The Dogrib have a longer vision that is more holistic than a lot of other business people," said Nick Mansell, chief operating officer of Behcho Ko. "Profit is not always the sole motivating factor. It is very refreshing to work with them."