The Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce will see how area businesses can better cater to shoppers from Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan.
At the organization’s meeting on Feb. 26, chamber member Tim Smith said the group has to look into how Flin Flon and area businesses can attract more consumers from outlying areas, including largely indigenous communities along Highway 106. Smith said the suspension of birth services in Flin Flon last fall may have had an impact on economic activity from the region, saying most of the children born at Flin Flon General Hospital came from northern Saskatchewan families and mothers.
“I think we need to, as a chamber and as business owners, have a closer look, not only toward the baby care side of it, but how we get customers to make the left (from Sandy Bay and Pelican Narrows toward Flin Flon) instead of the right (toward Prince Albert),” said Smith.
“What do we need to do to attract those customers? There are more customers in those three communities (Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay and Deschambault Lake) than Flin Flon and Creighton combined.”
Chamber office manager Michelle Reid said the group has reached out to chiefs and council members in northern Saskatchewan along with leaders at Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) to determine how Flin Flon can better provide goods and services for northern Saskatchewan communities.
Chamber members chose to cut their number of public meetings in half.
The group will hold only one public meeting per month in an effort to boost attendance.
After March, the chamber plans to hold one public meeting on the third Tuesday of each month instead of holding meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays. A meeting for the chamber’s executive board would be held on the first Tuesday of each month, according to the change.
Chamber took time out from the meeting to pay tribute to a pair of prominent northern business leaders.
Chamber president Karen MacKinnon held a moment of silence to honour Jack Forsyth and Laurel Mackie, who both died in late February.
Born in Flin Flon, Forsyth moved to Snow Lake in the 1960s where he owned and operated the Forsyth Agency, worked with several community and children’s groups and served as the town’s mayor.
Forsyth died Feb. 20, just days before his 80th birthday.
“He was a very prominent member of Snow Lake. He and his family operated businesses there. He was their mayor and he was on the [Community Futures] Greenstone board for many, many years,” said MacKinnon.
Mackie was an addictions counsellor, long-time chamber member and former executive with the group.
“She came faithfully to our meetings, she got involved in stuff, and she was always the first person to sign up for events to help out. She was one of our heaviest hitters, I think,” said MacKinnon.
Members of the chamber received a message of thanks from one of Flin Flon’s most prominent young athletes.
Hapnot Collegiate wrestler Carson Lee presented the group with a framed collection of photos as a message of thanks after the chamber assisted his family in a fundraiser last year.
Lee and his family go around the world for high-level wrestling competitions and camps, racking up thousands of dollars in travel and training costs and requiring fundraisers to help offset expenses.