Industry Canada

Industry Canada

June 21, 2005 13:30 ET

Government of Canada Assists New Business in Westbank First Nation

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - June 21, 2005) - Senator Ross Fitzpatrick (Okanagan-Similkameen), on behalf of the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry, today attended the official opening of Grizzly Wood Products in the Westbank First Nation community.

Industry Canada's Aboriginal Business Canada program contributed $247 500 toward a $585 000 innovation and market expansion project. This contribution enabled the company to purchase new state-of-the-art equipment and to promote the business under its new name across Canada and the United States.

"The citizens of Westbank First Nation have worked hard to re-establish and redesign a company that is now a source of immense pride in their community," said Minister Emerson. "I am pleased that Aboriginal Business Canada's contribution has helped this company improve its competitiveness in domestic and international markets."

"Westbank First Nation has a history of being entrepreneurial," said Senator Fitzpatrick. "This community has implemented a number of successful ventures over the years, which contribute to a strong economic future not only for its citizens, but for the region."

"This announcement coincides with our grand opening ceremonies today, National Aboriginal Day. We have much to celebrate," added Westbank First Nation Chief, Robert Louie. "We also recognize that important partnerships and hard work have made this community's goal a reality."

Originally a chopsticks production facility in an industrial area of Kelowna, the company has been relocated to the Westbank First Nation community. Its expanded product line now includes a variety of quality wood products, such as hardwood flooring, small dimension lumber and prefabricated building panels.

Re-establishment of the company, which was purchased by Westbank First Nation two years ago with assistance from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and other private partners, included the creation of a modern 18 000 square foot facility. The company is expected to maintain or create approximately 34 jobs in the area.

Westbank First Nation is a community of 540 people located in Kelowna. A significant number of the workforce has forestry and woodworking experience, which translates into a solid pool of experienced workers for the new venture.

Aboriginal Business Canada provides financial assistance and business information to majority-owned Aboriginal enterprises on- and off-reserve, in urban, rural and remote areas. The program supports clients of all Aboriginal heritage groups in all parts of Canada, as well as Aboriginal financial institutions and development corporations. For more information, visit http://www.abc-eac.ic.gc.ca or call 1 800 O Canada (1 800 622-6232).

Funding for this initiative was provided for in Budget 2005.

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