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Expansion on horizon for Fort William First Nation environmental firm

Maamigin Environmental and Relations Inc. received a $7,500 Hydro One Entrepreneurship Grant
From left to right are Lindsay Zylstra, vice-president of supply chain at Hydro One; Brian Ludwigsen, CEO of Maamigin Environmental and Relations Inc.; and Philip Ducharme, vice-president of entrepreneurship and procurement with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION — An up-and-coming Indigenous-owned environmental management company in the northwest is hoping a new grant will help it expand throughout the region through new marketing initiatives.

“With this grant we hope to focus more on the marketing side of our business and really become a little more noticed within the community and northwestern Ontario region as an environmental service company,” said Brian Ludwigsen, CEO of Maamigin Environmental and Relations Inc.

Ludwigsen’s company, started in 2018, was one of 28 recipients of the Hydro One Indigenous Entrepreneurship Grant.  

The grants are awarded in partnership with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and eligiblity is open to Indigenous-owned companies in the province of Ontario.

There are two grant levels. The first level provides $2,500 and was awarded to 20 companies, which included D2 Energy Consulting in Nolalu. The second level provides $7,500 and was awarded to eight recipients, including Beezer’s Honey in Dryden.

Lindsay Zylstra, vice-president of supply chain at Hydro One, said this year they received 180 applications from across the province. Those that received the level one grant were part of a lottery, but those awarded the level two grant had to go through a jury selection process.

“Brian’s business really stood out for us,” Zylstra said. “Being Indigenous-owned, very well entrenched in his community, what he did was write an application about the growth of his business and what he intended to do with the funding really stood out to the jury and how he really wanted to invest in the overall success of his company.”

Maamigin Environmental and Relations Inc. is an environmental services company that focuses on water sampling, including surface water, ground water, wildlife management, and a variety of other services.

Ludwigsen said he wants the company to become a leading Indigenous environmental service in northwestern Ontario.

“We really try to focus especially on providing data and meaningful environmental services where we are working with First Nations and industries collaboratively,” he said. “We want to make sure we are conscious of the environment and building sustainable futures for everyone.”

The first steps with the Hydro One grant will be expanding the marketing of the company. Ludwigsen said the environmental side of the business was launched in 2018 just before the start of the pandemic, which created many challenges.

“Now hopefully we will have a platform and website where other industries and clients can come to and look at the services we provide and ultimately grow our businesses,” he said.

“Hydro one is thrilled to be able to partner with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and identify new and emerging Indigenous businesses that Hydro one can partner ad work with,” Zylstra said.

A number of additional Northern Ontario businesses also received grants from Hydro One and CCAB. 

Recipients of the Level 2 $7,500 grant include:

  • Beezer's Honey, located in Dryden
  • Four Voices Marketing Communications, located in Sault Ste. Marie
  • Kassey's Chapleau Piano Academy, located in Chapleau
  • RAW Group, located in Sudbury
  • Wesley Bow Guides Inc., located in Hearst

Recipients of the Level 1 $2,500 grant include: 

  • Brii-Co Contracting and Consulting, located in Cutler
  • First Nation Timber Ltd., located in Kapuskasing
  • The Vintage Eco Shop, located in Parry Sound

— TBNewswatch