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Western Nations Gas Bars coming soon to two communities

June 15, 2021

Construction is underway as two First Nations – one in Saskatchewan and another in Manitoba – are the first communities to partner with their local Co-ops on developing Western Nations Gas Bars.

In April, Sturgeon Lake First Nation announced plans to build a Tipi Fuel and Convenience Store, incorporating a Western Nations-branded gas bar, in Prince Albert, Sask. Meanwhile, Gambler First Nation recently announced a Western Nations Gas Bar is to be part of the urban reserve it’s developing in Brandon, Man.

“After the launch of the Western Nations brand in January, it’s exciting to see the first locations will soon become a reality,” said Brian Humphreys, Vice-President of Energy at Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL).

“Local Co-ops take the time to work with partners, understand their unique needs and determine the best path forward.”

Building a legacy in Brandon

“Gambler had a vision on how they wanted their gas bar to look and feel,” said Barry Cooper, Business-to-Business Operations Manager at Heritage Co-op. “We can assist in many areas from the build to opening day and beyond. We have a supply chain which includes petroleum, reliable vendors, relationships with the community and a trusted reputation.”

Gambler First Nation Chief David LeDoux said they wanted to work with an organization that valued people over profit and gave back to communities.

“All of the revenues generated by this gas station will be for the benefit of our membership and will ensure that our children and grandchildren have something to call their own,” Chief LeDoux said.

“It was extremely important for us to know that the day-to-day management of the operation would be in good hands with people that truly understood our community goals and had a proven track record of outstanding customer service.”

He added one of the biggest hurdles to the development was access to financing, especially for on-reserve financing without having their own revenue sources. A grant through the Western Nations program helped them finance a portion of the project.

Overcoming challenges with experience and support

“Launching a new business venture can be very challenging. However, by working together with an experienced partner, the process can be manageable and together we can make our communities a better place,” said Brian Kindt, Vice-President of Agro at Lake Country Co-op.

“This relationship is about more than just supply of fuel, but rather sharing our expertise and helping grow the business and provide additional support for the communities.”

It’s been an enlightening process and a learning curve for April Roberts-Poitras, CEO of Sturgeon Lake Developments Ltd./Tipi Fuel and Convenience Ltd.

“There were a lot of areas I was not too familiar with…for example, rack prices, suppliers and introducing me to several resources,” she said. “I am very thankful to FCL and Lake Country Co-op. The knowledge and expertise that you have shared is priceless. The information we share in trust, demonstrates that this is a true partnership and what one should look like.”

The location will offer Top Tier certified gasoline, Co-op Premium Diesel, propane, lubricants, convenience-store items and a Chester Fried Chicken offering. More than a dozen people are expected to be employed when construction is completed later this summer.