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Playing in the space of relationships and reconciliation is hard, but easy. It takes time and trust, but it is the surest road to success.

Early in my career, I worked with Gary Merasty, who last week stepped down as CEO of Des Nedhe Development. Gary challenged me to think big, to listen and to remember my roots. I learned from Gary – by listening to his words and then watching his actions. I saw that he “walked the talk”, which is not common. Gary knows how to build relationships.

It’s a trait he shares with Sean Willy, Des Nedhe’s new CEO and a guy with a keen business sense and a personality that invites people to engage. Like Gary, Sean has always pushed Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canada to do better.

The common element between the two of them is that they know the importance of building relationships and the work that goes into it.

When Gary joined Des Nedhe a few years ago, he built a relationship with Creative Fire that led to an innovative partnership between the two companies. It’s a unique situation in Canada to have an Indigenous economic development agency recognize the value of investing in a partnership with a communications firm.

Sean has been part of the team at Creative Fire and, this week, took over the reins from Gary as CEO at Des Nedhe. Sean’s brand of engagement and energy will continue to make both companies stronger.

The progressive approach of creating opportunities through relationships is what convinced me to leave a job with Federal Government in Ottawa to come home to Saskatchewan. And it’s the thinking that more people need to embrace.

For Indigenous people, it is important to tell our story. And a partnership with a non-Indigenous communications firm is the kind of outside-the-box thinking that can change our future.

So I want to congratulate and thank Gary and Sean for setting a path for more Indigenous and non-Indigenous companies to follow. By working together, we can achieve more.