Des Nedhe Group Completes Acquisition of Creative Fire

The Des Nedhe Group, which represents the economic development interests of Saskatchewan’s English River First Nation, today announced it has acquired Creative Fire, a 20-year-old Saskatoon-based communications agency, and will grow the business into a national professional services firm.

Recognizing the growing importance of Indigenous insight and participation – specifically in the resource sector – the Des Nedhe Group entered a partnership with Creative Fire in 2015. The strength and success of that partnership over the past five years led Des Nedhe to fully acquire Creative Fire.

Creative Fire is now a 100-percent Indigenous-owned communications, strategy, engagement, research and creative firm. As the agency of choice for a number of Canada’s corporate, not-for-profit, government and community leaders, the team delivers high-quality work efficiently and effectively across the country.

The new firm announced Leanne Hall, as the new Creative Fire Chief Executive Officer; Jordan Baptiste as Managing Director, Saskatchewan; Elisa Hildebrand as Director, Creative Services; and Max Skudra as Director; Research and Innovation.

“Creative Fire is truly an Indigenous impact company,” says Hall. “Creative Fire’s goals are to foster success and opportunities for Indigenous people – from our ownership at English River First Nation to Indigenous partners and suppliers to talented and high-potential employees from coast to coast to coast. Our team is passionate about making a difference and our goals are focused on having a positive impact in our communities”.

Over the past six months, Creative Fire has expanded to establish a national presence with a strong desire to work in partnership with companies, Indigenous communities and entities, and government and institutions that share our values and our purpose-driven approach to business. Creative Fire has assembled a team of thought leaders and industry experts in areas that are important to our clients: strategy, research, communications, engagement, public and media relations, creative development and media planning with specialized focuses in nuclear, mining and energy and Indigenous engagement. With the addition of our new national research and data analytics division led by Max Skudra, along with our existing capabilities and services, we are built to meet the long-term communications needs of our clients.

“We have a very unique purpose-driven organization. Our foundations, built in both corporate and community, are poised to make an impact in Canada. We pride ourselves on fostering collaborative outcomes. We are a top tier Canadian Agency, which happens to be Indigenous” says Baptiste.

In addition to Creative Fire, Des Nedhe owns or has significant investments in companies in the construction and maintenance of mines and power-generation facilities; assembly and maintenance of mining equipment; fabrication and welding; retail operations and property management.

“Drawing on Des Nedhe’s traditional values and entrepreneurial spirit, Creative Fire will deliver opportunities that benefit the members of English River First Nation,” says Sean Willy, Chief Executive Officer of Des Nedhe Group.

For more information:

Leanne Hall
Chief Executive Officer, Creative Fire

Jordan Baptiste
Managing Director – Saskatchewan, Creative Fire

Max Skudra
Director of Research and Innovation, Creative Fire

Sean Willy, Chief Executive Officer, Des Nedhe Group


Des Nedhe/Tron sign supplier agreement with Bruce Power

TIVERTON, ON – January 25, 2019 – Bruce Power has signed a supplier agreement with a new, locally-based, First Nation-owned joint business venture to provide construction services to Bruce Power, as part of the company’s ongoing investment program.

Makwa Development Corp., which is owned by Nawash residents Scott Lee and Shane Chegahno, has joined forces with Tron, a construction company based on Saskatchewan’s English River First Nation that brings extensive experience working in Canada’s nuclear sector. Tron and Makwa recently signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) to create a fully First Nation-owned venture, with experience in nuclear sector and a goal of maximizing employment of local Indigenous people.

“The Makwa-Tron joint venture will be 100 per cent First Nation-owned,” said Lee. “The entity will be situated on the Nawash First Nation and will hopefully create immediate opportunities and benefits for both the Nawash and Saugeen First Nations and their respective Band Members. Our hope is that our community members as well as businesses owned by community members will be able to derive benefit from the coming decades of Bruce Power operations in the SON Territory.”

Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO, said the Makwa-Tron joint venture will provide Bruce Power with a variety of services during the Life-Extension Program. Tron’s experience ranges from infrastructure and utilities construction to electrical and instrumentation installation, as well as vessel fabrication, among other disciplines.

“Bruce Power is committed to developing wealth-creation solutions for Indigenous peoples on a number of fronts, and these types of business partnerships are a key element to achieving this,” Rencheck said. “The Makwa-Tron joint venture will provide community members with excellent jobs and give Bruce Power the skillsets we require to advance our investment program.”

The Hon. Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs Ontario, praised the partnership and the many benefits that it will generate.
“It’s very encouraging to see this collaboration between Bruce Power, MAKWA Developments, and Tron/Des Nedhe Development,” Minister Rickford said. “These are the types of partnerships that support economic development, create good jobs, and provide opportunities for First Nations communities to share in Ontario’s prosperity.
“Indigenous communities possess immense skill and expertise for endeavours like this, and this project will undoubtedly showcase the benefits of local partnership, and encourage similar economic development into the future.
Sean Willy is President and CEO of Des Nedhe Development, which started as a company in 1991 as an economic development vehicle for the English River First Nation. It has grown steadily, through vibrant partnerships and sound community leadership. Des Nedhe Development manages a broad and secure portfolio of successful companies in the resource, construction, supply, manufacturing, communications, and real estate sectors, he said.

“Through community foresight and planning, we have been forging new paths,” Willy said. “We are building on traditional values and an entrepreneurial spirit, while delivering opportunities that add value for our customers and our people. It has become one of the leading Indigenous economic development organizations in the country.”

Learn more about Tron at

About Bruce Power
Formed in 2001, Bruce Power is an electricity company based in Bruce County, Ontario. We are powered by our people. Our 4,200 employees are the foundation of our accomplishments and are proud of the role they play in safely delivering clean, reliable, low-cost nuclear power to families and businesses across the province. Bruce Power has worked hard to build strong roots in Ontario and is committed to protecting the environment and supporting the communities in which we live. Learn more at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

For more information, contact:
John Peevers – 519-361-6583 –


Business Update from Des Nedhe

With 2018 coming to a close, Des Nedhe President and CEO Sean Willy is pleased to provide an update on the company and its plans for the future.

Although it was a year that brought challenges and change, Des Nedhe made important steps to building a stronger business for the future. The signing of a new business charter, the opening of new lines of business and the creation of new relationships all hold great potential for English River.

Please watch Sean’s message and watch for further updates from Des Nedhe in the months head – here, on our Facebook page (@DesNedhe) and in the community.

CommunityReport_v1 from Creative Fire on Vimeo.

Sean Willy

Sean Willy appointed as CEO

After a 20-year career in the resource industry and an extensive history in executive leadership, community development and human resources, Sean Willy was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Des Nedhe Development in August 2017.

Willy joined Des Nedhe as Vice President in July 2016 and led numerous business development initiatives for Des Nedhe. His experience with Indigenous communities and corporations enabled him to establish strong ties between our companies and our numerous Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners.

With roots in the Denesuline and Metis communities, Sean brings an understanding of the expectations and needs of Indigenous people. Growing up in a mining household, he experienced life in communities across the Canadian Shield – from the Northwest Territories to Nunavut to Alberta to Saskatchewan.

In his role as Director, Corporate Responsibility at Cameco, Sean developed the strategies and led all negotiations which saw Cameco build upon its successful track record with Indigenous peoples. This led to Sean building partnerships in Australia, the United States, and throughout Canada.
Sean’s greatest career achievement was signing five community-based agreements in Australia and in northern Saskatchewan and completing the most unique legacy trust fund in Canada, the Six River Trust.

Sean also serves as co-chair of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, chair of the highly successful training partnership Northern Career Quest and a director of the Global Indigenous Trust.

News Release [PDF]