Contract tenders create tension for some Cree companies

Share Button

Two Cree business owners facing non-Cree competitors in their communities say the outside firms are causing tensions when contracts are awarded.

Kenny Norman Neeposh (Eenou Plumbing and Heating) and Patrick Dixon (Westao Construction) are two entrepreneurs who say they face unfair competition.

Neeposh, an Oujé-Bougoumou resident, held a peaceful five-day protest September 14-18 to demand that Cree entities favour Cree companies in their community when it comes to awarding contracts.

“I was happy to see a lot of people coming by to support me,” Neeposh said. “There were all types – teachers, students, truck drivers and carpenters.”

Neeposh said he gave a letter to Oujé-Bougoumou Chief Curtis Bosum to remind him of Elders’ vision to have Crees run their own affairs.

“Since that happened, everything changed,” Neeposh said. “The chief came to me and said, ‘We support you.’”

Bosum said that he wasn’t disturbed by the demonstrations, and supported the demands of local companies and enterprises.

“This was why I decided to run for the office of chief,” he said. “We agree that more contracts and more employment needs to be available to our community members.”

Bosum said that changes in entity structures have been made since his election. He wants to guarantee local businesses and enterprises have access to contracts in the community.

“We see this protest as an opportunity for real dialogue,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to figure out how we can do a better job of doing what we all agree needs to be done.”

Neeposh said that he wants to warn those who are starting their businesses and looking for partnerships. He was involved in a joint venture with a non-Cree, and claims that the partnership wasn’t really working for him.

“It was an issue with money,” said Neeposh, who later received a letter from his partner saying he was pulling out of the joint venture. I don’t want [young entrepreneurs] to go through with what happened to me.”

Patrick Dixon, who lives in Eastmain, said the solution is to have a Cree construction company in their community direct contracts to local businesses.

“Someone who knows what he’s doing, and knows what he’s talking about – that should be the person responsible for those contracts,” said Dixon.

Dixon says he’s witnessed too many non-Cree companies come into his community and land contracts over his professional services.

“It’s here where things need to be worked out,” he said. “The Cree person responsible will know where to sub-contract in their community, that’s the person who’s going to help his community.”

Last year, Dixon’s business generated no income for about six months, and he was forced to find another job in the community. “I fought hard to help people, and to help myself in my business,” he said.


Share Button

Comments are closed.