Acden is a well-known local business, but did you know they have supported many community organizations for a very long time as well? One of the largest Indigenous companies in Canada, the corporation began as a labour services organization with one truck and 10 employees, and now has 20 companies and over 2,000 employees.
“Historically, Acden has been quite shy about talking about our community investment, so thank you to YMM Magazine for this opportunity. Simply put, it’s vitally important to Acden to be a responsible corporate citizen and support the communities where our staff, owners, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), and our clients live and work,” explains Colleen Stewart, Community Relations Advisor, Acden, who works with the communication/business team.
“We proudly contribute to events and initiatives mainly in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) and in Fort Chipewyan, where the ACFN administration is located,” added Stewart, who has been with the group for just over a year now.
Recently, Acden was honoured with three significant awards for demonstrating leadership in business and in recognition for their community work: The Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce – 2021 Business of the Year Award (over 99 employees category). The Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce – 2021 Business of the Year Award – Environment/ Sustainability (presented to Acden Environment), and Wood Buffalo Food Bank’s Neighbour of the Year Award.
Mitch Mercredi, Manager of Business Development, Acden, has been with the company for seven years, and is a proud ACFN member. He shares the corporation’s history, and goals.
“As the business arm of the ACFN, Acden was founded to provide economic benefits directly to the Nation. Our traditional values stem from looking after another and prospering as a community. As an Indigenous business, it’s important for us to honour this value by paying it forward and sharing our success with each other. Supporting our community can mean more than only monetary, it can be sharing our time and skills for the benefit of others too.”
Indeed, both Mercredi and his children can be seen dancing and drumming at numerous community events highlighting their beautiful Indigenous culture.
Continuing with the historic thread, as shared by the official website, “in 1994, ACFN Chief Tony Mercredi recognized the potential for economic development for the Nation through the shared development of resources in the oil sands. He approached Syncrude Canada Ltd. and with their support founded Denesoline Environment (now Acden Environment) the same year. Acden Environment is now the largest supplier of waste management and recycling services in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.”
In addition, 2012 saw the rebranding of the corporation from “ACFN Business Group to Acden. In keeping with our heritage, the meaning of Acden incorporates Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Denesoline, the founding company and First People.”
As aforementioned, Acden supports many organizations and events in the RMWB like the Regional Aboriginal Recognition Awards (RARA), Keyano College, Athabasca Tribal Council, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Northern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA), Fort McMurray Food Festival, Northern Lights Health Foundation (NLHF), United Way of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, the Canada Day parade, the local and Fort Chipewyan SPCA, plus Run for the Cure just to name a few.
“Acden is a past winner of the Corporate Spirit Award at the Run for the Cure – we are always inspired by how much spirit and enthusiasm our staff brings to all the events we participate in,” continues Stewart.
“In conjunction with our community efforts in the RMWB, it’s a priority for us to support events and organizations in Fort Chipewyan that benefit our members who live there and the greater community as well. We participate in and sponsor annual events like Treaty Days, cultural gatherings, Winter Carnival, and Canada Day among many others. Having the opportunity to visit Fort Chipewyan is a special highlight for our staff who participate in community events on Acden’s behalf and can see the impacts they make as Acden team members,” Mercredi continues.
Tammie Tuccaro, Co-Chairperson for the RARA Committee, thanks Acden.
“Acden’s continuous support helps us host this annual special recognition awards banquet. Next year is our 33rd celebration happening on February 26, 2022. With Acden’s support, we are able to provide banquet tickets to community members at affordable prices and also bring in meaningful guest speakers and entertainment for this spectacular evening, which attracts over 400 attendees. Our special guest will be Jordin Tootoo (Canadian former professional hockey player).”
The group also has partner companies, of which Acden Helios is one. Its primary focus is to keep birds off tailing ponds in the region. James MacFarlane, Managing Partner for the association shares more on the group’s corporate advocacy.
“Acden Helios fundraised internally to recognize Truth and Reconciliation Day. This fund is to provide direct support to ACFN in supporting members’ opportunity in education and personal growth. As 2021 was our first year, we are already committed to both an increase and continuation in 2022.”
Ashley Fisher, Major Gift and Alumni Coordinator for Keyano College’s Advancement Services speaks to Acden’s partnership.
“For the past 14 years Acden has been an active supporter and sponsor of the Keyano Gala and Huskies Athletics Golf Classic. The funds raised from these events help strengthen our programming, enhance student experience, create student awards as well as bursaries, support Huskies Athletics, and provide post-secondary opportunities to those who might not otherwise have them.”
Cindy Amerongen, Executive Director, NLHF can’t thank Acden enough.
“Acden has been our generous supporter for over 18 years. As their business entities grew the company invested more deeply in our signature events through ticket purchases and auction bids. In 2018 Acden recognized the importance and impact of the Foundation’s Gratitude Campaign and made a $250,000 pledge in support of creating the Minimally Invasive Surgical (MIS) suites at the Northern Lights Health Centre. The goal of the campaign and the MIS suites is to provide more care right here in our region which also supports the goals of ACFN to care for the health and well-being of their members.”
“We see this gift as a partnership in exceptional health between ACFN, and their business entities at Acden, with Alberta Health Services through their charitable entity, the NLHF. We are pleased to report that the MIS Suites project is currently in construction in a phased approach with two surgical rooms at a time. Construction is expected to be completed by the summer of 2022 and most surgeries are now done through laparoscopic technology which has been purchased and in use. The entire renovation of the six surgical suites and the purchase of cutting-edge technology has been funded 100% by donors such as Acden,” Amerongen adds.
Not one to sit on their laurels, the group continues to expand giving back to the region with new events like the first annual Acden Fleet Show n’ Shine held this summer at the Acden corporate headquarters in Taiganova Crescent. The event was in support of the Centre of Hope. The group plans to host it again in August 2022, along with new events. Stay tuned to this space for more on this generous company’s endeavours.
- Acden’s President and CEO Garry Flett accepting the Neighbour of the Year award from the Wood Buffalo Food Bank.
- Craig Warden – General Manager of Acden Environment with Acden Environment’s award for 2021 Business of the Year for Environment & Sustainability, Colleen Stewart – Community Relations Advisor and Mitch Mercredi – Manager of Business Development with Acden’s award for 2021 Business of the Year – over 100 employees. Photos supplied
About the author
Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.