In the Summer of 2021 Portage College offered 6 workshops over 6 weeks to provide business training to the Goodfish Lake Business Corporation (GFLBC) located on Whitefish Lake First Nation #128. Training was tailored by Portage College Business faculty to focus on key objectives and goals for the group and to include experiential training with their current roles.
The Portage College Business program cannot say enough good things about the working relationship with GFLBC. Instructor, Brian Thorne says he was fortunate to work with their cohesive, humble and dedicated leadership team. Each Leader showed up every day ready to engage in meaningful discussions, to challenge the status quo, and each other to create the best work environment for their employees and customers.
“I was impressed with just how quickly the workshop principles were being implemented for an immediate lift and positive impact for the leaders we were training,” said Thorne. “Connecting with our communities is one of our core values at Portage College. Being an on-site coach is one way in which we connect our industry partners with the knowledge, skills, and training opportunities to be competitive in today's changing and challenging business environment.”
In 1977, community leaders Chief Sam Bull and the economic development committee created GFLBC to benefit from the oil sands instead of competing with the industry. Now GFLBC are leaders in supplying high quality products for oil sand companies as well as capturing 99.9% of hydrocarbons from garments in their dry-cleaning process.
Being the winner of the 2020 Alberta Business Award of Distinction speaks highly of the leadership at GFLBC. Their mission is to build a strong economic foundation, to create prosperity and employment for Aboriginal people, and to protect the environment.
“Their investment in this formal business training demonstrates their commitment to creating high quality products and services that can compete in any market. This confirms their commitment to making a value-added difference for their customers, employees, and communities.” Said Thorne.
The Business program sees a great value in providing experienced instructors who are skilled at tailoring lessons to the business needs. Coordinator of the Business Program, Ken Warkentin says that with Thorne’s extensive industry experience he was able to not just impart knowledge, but improve lives with how he taught.
“[Thorne] had a desire to give back to his community by sharing his business knowledge and helping others to realize their potential. This was illustrated by the importance [Thorne] placed on tailoring his instruction to ensure that he addressed the challenges and opportunities that his students were facing at their place of work rather than providing hypothetical examples inherent to the curriculum.”
“The Goodfish Lake Business Corporation appreciates the working relationship with Portage College, and the quality of the management training delivered,” said Tom Jackson, CEO of Goodfish Lake Business Corporation. “Jointly, we were able to customize the content of our “Management 101” course to the needs we had identified for our supervisory and management staff, which Portage delivered at our facility at Goodfish Lake. Portage provided an excellent and dedicated instructor in Brian Thorne, who went out of his way to deliver a high-quality product that was greatly appreciated by all participants.”
When looking back on his relationship with the Whitefish Lake Nation and CEO Tom Jackson, Thorne found Jackson approachable and vested in his leader’s training. “I was fortunate to partner with Tom and learn from him where I could align our workshop principles with their corporate strategy and business plan. This had a direct impact on the investment they made in us and the value I was able to add for them.”
“We found that the key to success is to really get to know the community. To know what they want and implement it in a wholistic approach.” Said Warkentin.
Bottom Row (L-R); Raven Jackson, EA/HR Generalist; Eva Breast, Manager Goodfish Lake Dry Cleaners; Patsy Cardinal, Manager Health & Safety.
Back Row (L-R): CEO Tom Jackson; Desmond Clarke, Manager Goodfish Sewing & Garment; Russell Steinhauer, Day Supervisor, Goodfish Lake Dry Cleaners; Calvin Steinhauer, Director of Operations.
Missing from Image: LaTasha Collins, Manager, Goodfish Lake Laundry; Roxann Boucher, Supervisor, Goodfish Lake Laundry; Stephen Giabbaco, Goodfish Lake Laundry; Brandon Whitford, Manager, Goodfish PCSL; Gilbert Houle, Evening Supervisor, Goodfish Lake Laundry; Faye Buffalo, Manager, Finance; Vivian Jackson, Supervisor Goodfish Lake Sewing & Garment.
Goodfish Lake Business Corporation
Portage College, Corporate Communications Manager