By Jake Cardinal
(ANNews) – Indigenous-owned and operated wildland firefighting company, Smoke Eaters LP, has entered a deal with an international manufacturer, allowing the Saddle Lake business to become a distributor of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“The business arrangement will consist of being a direct distributor of Atlas Products. This includes sales, ordering, and distribution to the customers,” said Smoke Eaters’ Manager Andrew Cardinal.
Atlas Workwear, who has “been manufacturing and distributing quality products and great prices” for years, will be selling products such as coveralls, work gloves, and face masks to Smoke Eaters LP for re-sale.
“Large industry partners are always looking for opportunities to support local communities,” said Atlas Workwear in a statement to Alberta Native News. “With all levels of government earmarking billions for indigenous business spending this year, we feel it’s a great time for both companies to grow our market share while providing opportunities for employment and revenue for Saddle Lake Cree nation members.
“Atlas workwear is developing more great safety and industrial products that will add to the offering in the future and we are very excited to be working with Smoke Eaters on this venture,” the company said in their statement.
In 2019, the Federal Government of Canada announced plans to spend $4.5 Billion in efforts to try and close the socio-economic gap between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people. The new budget “builds on significant investments for Indigenous peoples of $16.8 billion provided in the last 3 budgets,” said the Government of Canada.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said of the budget, “It is a continuation of what we’ve been doing since Day 1. It is driven by the fact that we know in this country, we need to get this right. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we are going to stay on it.”
To view the exact numbers and distribution information, you can visit the Government of Canada’s 2019 budget for Indigenous peoples here.
Smoke Eaters Board Member Andy Redcrow said of the agreement, “These products are top quality Personal Protection Equipment and workwear that will be essential to meeting the safety guidelines during this pandemic as people’s safety is our primary goal.”
“Atlas Workwear will provide sales support and technical training for our new personnel which will be conducive to work opportunities for our Nation,” said Redcrow.
Smoke Eaters’ Manager Andrew Cardinal also said that the company “will be in a position to provide more services to industry. This equates to having another source of revenue as opposed to just focusing on Wildland Firefighting.
“The working arrangement will allow for members to be trained and involved with the sales aspect of providing products and services to industry. It will allow for logistics to be taken on by the Saddle Lake First Nation (SLFN) trained truck drivers and usage of any heavy truck and trailer owned and operated by SLFN and/or Member of.”
The plans for the distribution agreement are much bigger however, as “over time Saddle Lake Smoke Eaters LP could become a distribution hub to cater to Alberta with a centre located on the Saddle Lake First Nation,” said Cardinal. “This has entailed meetings with major companies to become a vendor and have gained favourable response to date.”
Jacob Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Alberta Native News.