Strategic Natural Resource Consultants (SNRC), a successful professional consulting firm specializing in natural resource management, has been purchased by the Ehattesaht/Chinehkint First Nation. Owning majority interest in the business will allow the nation to better manage their natural resources along with contracting services out to others.
“We are a small nation, for sure, but we have big ideas,” said Chief Councillor Simon John.
With 539 registered members, Ehattesaht is one of the smaller Nuu-chah-nulth nations, but it has been forward-thinking for decades. They purchased their forestry company A’atuu back in 1974, creating employment for their members and local communities.
Ehattesaht/Chinehkint was also the first Nuu-chah-nulth nation to map their entire territory in high resolution LiDAR, a technology used to create high-resolution models of ground elevation. Its data is useful in resource management projects.
But as they move forward with their resource management and economic development plans, the nation must hire specialists and they are not always first in line.
“At any one time we will have five to eight professionals working for us, but each of them is doing something different – we have a marine biologist, fisheries biologist, wildlife habitat specialists, forest engineers, silviculture engineers, planning foresters, operational foresters, timber supply analysts and more,” said Chief John. “By purchasing SNRC we solve the access problem, and they can keep busy throughout the year working for all of the (other) clients.”
Ehattesaht/Chinehkint now owns 60 per cent of shares in SNRC, one of B.C.’s largest natural resource consulting service companies. Launched in Port McNeill in 2003, the company has grown to include 180 employees with offices in Campbell River, Port McNeill, Nanaimo, Prince George and Fort St. John.
“Our membership has asked us to find investments and opportunities that will help our nation grow and we saw a perfect fit,” said Chief John. “We think the strengths they have as a company are really aligned with what we need as a nation, but we are more excited about having a company that is successful across the province, works for a lot of industries and has a great leadership and a team who want to embrace new technologies.”
John believes the acquisition will help build Ehattesaht/Chinehkint nation.
“We are really impressed by things like their safety programs and their ability to manage data. We instantly have access to some of the best tech support, safety and emergency response programs around,” said John.
He went on to say that he believes community members can train to be part of the teams now that they have the support that comes with ownership of the company.
With investments in forestry, hydro power production, fisheries, aquaculture and tourism, Ehattesaht leaders envision getting their people interested and involved in a sustainable, working economy for generations to come. Chief John said he hopes that members will pursue professional careers like those at SNRC.
“Ehattesaht means something big is coming down the river and with this important company and the commercial real estate (that comes with it), our forestry licenses, and other investments, we are getting closer to being a real part of Canada,” said Chief John.