The gas station in Ermineskin Cree Nation has undergone a transformation. A new owner has given it a facelift, and the 15-member staff is now all aboriginal, mostly from the four reserves that surround Maskwacis in central Alberta.
At first blush, it seems like a given that a gas bar on a First Nation would employ indigenous people to work the cash register and pump gas, especially in a community where an estimated seven of 10 adults don’t have a job.
But that was not the case until Neyaskweyak Group of Companies (NGCI) took over the business in April. Like a cafeteria owner in the Maskwacis Mall, the previous gas-station operator went outside the area’s reserves for labour. In fact, the cafeteria’s non-aboriginal owner looked all the way overseas, hiring temporary foreign workers with the federal government’s blessing, The Globe and Mail recently revealed.