A proud First Nation, home to more than 800 Band Members, Fort McMurray 468 First Nation (FMFN468) is a Cree band located approximately 40 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta. A Treaty 8 Nation and member of the Athabasca Tribal Council, which represents five First Nation bands in northeast Alberta, the Nation is governed by Chief Neil Cheecham and two Councillors; Samantha Whalen and Angela Ross.

The Nation is guided by its eight community pillars, created with community input, to deliver long-term economic and social benefits to its Members. With an emphasis on economic development, capacity building, nurturing the welfare of its Members through focused programs and services, and revitalizing cultural and traditional practices, FMFN468 and its businesses are supporting the growth and sustainability of the community.

This mission is at the heart of the Fort McMurray First Nation Group of Companies and Fort McMurray 468 First Nation Economic Development.

FMFN Group

A wholly-owned business entity of FMFN468, the Fort McMurray First Nation Group of Companies (FMFN Group) was originally incorporated as Christina River Enterprises in 1987, before rebranding in 2021.

One hundred per cent Nation-owned and operated, FMFN Group started with a pallet shop and janitorial services, expanding over the years to include four successful businesses: Construction, Custodial, Transportation, and a Petro-Canada Fuel and Convenience Store operating on the Nation.

“We are focused on providing high quality, reliable and safe services that create economic benefit for the Nation and opportunities for Nation Members,” says FMFN Group CEO Steve Jani.

“With our Group of Companies as an important revenue generator, we are supporting the sustainable growth of our Nation, meeting infrastructure needs, and delivering a full range of programs and services to promote the personal growth, healing, and well-being of our Members,” Chief Neil Cheecham says.

Indeed, in 2021, FMFN Group generated more than $5 million in net profits to support infrastructure projects and Member healthcare, education, and other community programs and services.

The Economic Development Corporation

Fort McMurray 468 First Nation Economic Development (FMFN468 Economic Development) is an evolution of FMFN Group’s success in establishing strong business partnerships, supporting revenue growth, and creating meaningful employment opportunities for Nation Members and additional service lines to the Group of Companies.

Launched in April 2022, FMFN468 Economic Development is a stand-alone entity focused on contributing to the sustainable growth of the Nation and well-being of its Members.

“FMFN468 Economic Development was established to lead joint business ventures and equity opportunities and develop and manage business partnerships and industry relationships for both the Nation and FMFN Group,” says Ryan Coish, Vice President of Business Development. “All revenue generated supports Member programs and services, housing initiatives, and infrastructure projects on the Nation.”

Business partners value the Nation’s economic stability, good governance and leadership’s commitment to transparency and accountability, commitment to meaningful business relationships, and the strong involvement of Elders in helping to chart the Nation’s path forward, ensuring community sustainability for generations to come.

2021 Sustainability Report to the Community

This inaugural report showcases how the Nation’s leadership and FMFN Group, its employees, and industry partners are working together to build a vibrant, resilient, and self-sufficient community.

“More than $5 million in net profits generated by FMFN Group was reinvested in essential community services—including $330,000 in Partnership Educational funding to support 20 post-secondary students from the Nation,” says Jani.

A new water treatment facility to connect on-reserve homes and buildings to the regional water supply and sewage system is being built,” says Coish, “and with that comes the added benefit of creating job opportunities and income by using Nation-owned businesses for some of the work.”

“Along with a wide range of programs and services to support the well-being of our Members, we host several cultural events throughout the year to educate and connect Members to their language and traditions,” says FMFN468 Councillor Samantha Whalen. For example, in 2021, the Nation held a Residential School Awareness Walk to allow community Members an opportunity to mourn and honour Survivors, while raising public awareness.

Ten tons of waste was removed and disposed of sustainably during the annual Community Clean-Up, engaging and employing youth as part of the initiative.

In the fall of 2023, the Nation will release its ground-breaking 2022 Indigenous ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) report (IESG).

“Building on the 2021 Sustainability Report to Community, the report will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to sustainability for the Nation and Members, founded in traditional Indigenous values, culture, and practices,” says Chief Cheecham.

The Nation looks forward to sharing this innovative report that identifies new metrics inclusive of Indigenous values and priorities, as well as reporting on select global reporting metrics to align with their industry partners.

Looking Forward

“The Economic Development team is focused on delivering long-term benefits to the Nation through the development of business and equity opportunities founded on strong, strategic partnerships,” says Coish.

For example, Enbridge and 23 First Nation and Métis communities – including FMFN468 – announced an agreement in September 2022 for the communities acquire a non-operating interest in seven Enbridge pipelines in the Athabasca region of northern Alberta. A newly created entity, Athabasca Indigenous Investments, will steward this investment—representing the largest energy-related Indigenous economic partnership transaction in North America to date.

Through the Astisiy partnership, Suncor Energy has joined with eight Indigenous communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, including FMFN468, to acquire all of TC Energy’s 15 per cent equity interest in the Northern Courier Pipeline Limited Partnership—providing long-term, stable revenues that will benefit the communities for decades to come.

Working together with the Economic Development team, FMFN Group is focusing on the continued growth of its four divisions in alignment with its organizational core values: Community, Continuous Improvement, Collaboration, and Care.

FMFN468 Economic Development and FMFN Group are also looking forward to welcoming representatives of companies from across the energy services sector and other industries to their annual trade show, scheduled for May 25, 2023, in Calgary.

“It’s a free event and a great day of networking and relationship-building. Our theme for this year is ‘Sustaining Future Generations.’ Attendees will have the opportunity to meet our business partners and learn more about how we are working together to support economic and social equity for the Nation while driving mutually beneficial business opportunities and growth,” says Coish.

Together, FMFN468 Economic Development and FMFN Group are supporting the Nation’s commitment to care for its people, culture, and land, “thriving in economic sustainable opportunities that create self sufficiency and a vibrant healthy community.”

For more information, please visit fmfn468.com, fmfngroup.com, and fmfneconomicdevelopment.com