At the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, we use case studies when working with government and community partners and students to analyze problems while considering the broader political, societal, and economical contexts at play.

Indigenous Leadership, Governance and Development

The case studies on this webpage were developed by a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and their affiliates at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, as part of the Indigenous Leadership: Governance Development Project.

This case study profiles Cowessess First Nation’s nation-building approach and its economic development corporation, Cowessess Ventures Ltd. It highlights key strengths, successes, and community outcomes. The case also demonstrates the importance of partnerships to support capacity building and knowledge when entering the renewable energy sector.

This case study profiles FHQ Developments’ approach to economic development, highlighting key strengths, successes and community outcomes. 

FHQ Developments is one of several for-profit entities owned by File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC). FHQTC also owns and governs a number of non-profit organizations that combine Indigenous ways of being and doing with Western mainstream approaches to deliver important services to Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens of the region.

This case study profiles George Gordon Developments Ltd.’s approach to economic development, highlighting its key strengths, successes, and community outcomes. George Gordon Developments Ltd. (GGDL) is the economic development corporation of the George Gordon First Nation (GGFN). GGDL’s purpose is to create wealth, employment, and opportunities for the community through four pillars linked through economic reconciliation: Strategic Partnerships; Property Development; Renewable Energy; and Agriculture.

This case study profiles the development of the Ile-a-la-Crosse Co-operative Association Limited (the Coop). It highlights the regional economic development organizations in and around the Northern Village of Ile-a-la-Crosse and how they used the co-operative model to address food security and community development. The Co-op was incorporated in 2020 with the goal of providing Ile-a-la-Crosse and the surrounding area with access to groceries and other goods.

This case study profiles an entrepreneur who has become an active participant in economic development and growth opportunities in Saskatchewan. Cody Demerais, a registered citizen of Métis Nation Saskatchewan in Prince Albert, used an entrepreneurial approach to turn a weekend and evening venture into a thriving business called Limitless Gear, Clothing & Apparel (Limitless) — see

This case shows how Demerais applied his personal values, culture, and identity to build a successful small business. This entrepreneurial approach can be applied by others, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to create economic independence and growth.

Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) and its nine First Nations have been using an economic development corporation for over 40 years to manage and grow successful businesses and partnerships in northern Saskatchewan. Meadow Lake Tribal Council Industrial Investment (MLTCII) manages MLTC’s business operations.

MLTC’s development has coincided with an increase in employment and an increase in the Community Well-being Index among MLTC First Nations. These impacts can be linked to the economic activity created by MLTC and to the economic activity undertaken by member Nations and supported by MLTC

Misty Ventures Inc. is the economic development corporation of Mistawasis Nêhiyawak First Nation. It was founded with the goal of creating wealth and independence for the First Nation through the development and ownership of successful businesses. Misty Ventures uses a partnership model to meet its objectives. An important element for success is to not rush into an endeavour without thoroughly researching and considering all options. Partners are attracted to Misty Ventures due to its good reputation and straightforward approach to business. The company's focus is on creating equity, building capacity, and investing in the growth of its subsidiaries.

Northern Resource Trucking (NRT) is a limited partnership that was formed by First Nations and Métis partners in northern Saskatchewan, along with Trimac Transportation, to provide transportation services to the mining industry and other businesses in the region. NRT was formed with a collective vision for northern development and ownership, and is committed to building the northern economy by providing safe, reliable transportation services to its customers.

For over 25 years, the Northern Village of Pinehouse (NVP) has used a blended economic development approach to create successful partnerships and be an active participant in economic development in northern Saskatchewan. A key benefit of these initiatives has been increased year-round employment.

NVP’s approach to development is based on: (1) self-determination through community collaboration; (2) investment in the local and greater community; (3) partnerships; (4) active governance and seeking of new opportunities; and (5) continued traditional land use and stewardship.

This case study examines how two First Nations, Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation (BOCN) and Fishing Lake First Nation (FLFN), used their respective economic development corporations, Willow Cree Development Corporation and FLFN Ventures, to partner with each other to secure contract work related to the construction of the BHP potash mine near Jansen, Saskatchewan. 

Ya’ thi Néné was created to provide the seven Athabasca Basin communities of northern Saskatchewan with meaningful participation in the Duty to Consult process and to protect the region’s lands and resources. The Duty to Consult is a legal obligation that requires governments in Canada to consult with Indigenous communities and accommodate their concerns before making decisions that may impact their rights or interests. Participation in the Duty to Consult process is important for Indigenous communities since it provides a way of ensuring that treaty and Indigenous rights are upheld. At the same time, participation is costly and many Indigenous communities do not have the expertise or the resources to participate in a meaningful way. Ya’ thi Néné provides its community members with the support to engage in the Duty to Consult process and thus to more fully participate in the economy on a sustainable basis.


Open Access Educational Resources