Chair, President and Co-Founder
Chief Jim Boucher continues to be one of the most influential and successful Indigenous leaders internationally. Jim believes practice and preservation of one's traditional way of life can occur simultaneously alongside continuous and long-term sustainable oil sands development. Jim has effectively built relationships with the oil and gas industry and all levels of government. This has built Fort McKay's social and economic strength, facilitated proper consultation and advanced the rights of his community and it's people.
Jim was born in Fort McKay, Alberta, a community of about 850 Dene, Cree and Métis on the bank of the Athabasca River. The middle child of seven, he is a direct descendant of Headman Adam Boucher who signed Treaty 8 on August 4, 1899.
Raised by his grandparents, Jim’s first languages were Cree and Dene. The family lived off the land with Jim helping on the trap line as a young boy. “It was a very good life. I grew up with people helping each other. Everybody had a responsibility, a function. Everyone contributed, even children. Living off the land was a beautiful experience,” remembers Jim.
When he was a boy, Jim and his younger siblings were placed in Blue Quills Indian Residential School in St. Paul, his three older sisters having already been sent to another Residential School several years before. “We were deprived of our family and community. For all that was lost as a result of the residential school system – our language, traditional way of life – the greatest loss of all to me was the loss of my mother. She lost her life of a broken heart, we were taken from her, and she was taken from us,” remembers Jim.
Previously Jim served on the Fort McKay First Nations executive and as a elected Council member during early 1980s. In 1986, he was elected as Chief. Jim Boucher served as the Chief for over 30 years to his community Fort McKay First Nation. As Chief, he began helping the community navigate the decline of the fur trade in the early 80's and the growth of the oil sands industry, facilitating proper consultation and advancing the rights of his community and the peoples.
In 1986, he established the Fort McKay Group of Companies and numerous First Nation joint ventures. From the very beginning, Jim focused on three goals: creating employment, building educational opportunities, and turning a profit to provide a higher standard of living for the community. He achieved each of these goals in short order, then improved on them year after year. As Board Chairman, Jim has developed and sustained successful First Nation-owned businesses that create economic wealth and opportunities for the people of Fort McKay. These Fort McKay First Nation majority-owned businesses include the 100 percent band-owned and operated Fort McKay Group of Companies and many Jointly owned partnerships. Under his leadership, FMFN has grown into a successful, healthy community with next to zero unemployment, a per capita average household income higher than the Alberta and National average, a $65 million (and counting) trust fund, and control of companies that have generated $2.36 billion in revenue from 2013-2018. That makes FMFN a net contributor to Alberta’s and Canada’s economies.
Jim was a driving force in the Fort McKay First Nation making an historic investment ($545 million), in Suncor's East Tank Farm on November 22nd, 2017. The transaction built upon on a foundation of trust and collaborative leadership and serves as a model for how First Nations and energy companies can work together to achieve mutual long-term benefit. At the time, the deal represented the largest business investment to date by an Indigenous entity in Canada, and it is the first time the energy industry has given a majority stake to an outside party.
In 2020, Jim co-founded the Saa Dene Group of Companies and continues to service as President and Chairman of the Board. He currently serves as an advisor and a board of director on several private and public companies, non-partisan and purpose drive organizations such as Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC); Acceleware; Energy Council of Canada; Alberta Order of Excellence; Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA); Alexander Business Corporation.
Chief Boucher has received more than a dozen notable awards and accolades throughout his career, such as being inducted the Canadian Business Hall of Fame (2023), the first ever recipient of the CAREERS' James Carter Indigenous Leader Award, Alberta Order of Excellence (2020), Energy Person of the Year by the Canadian Energy Council of Canada (2018), and was named one of “The Power 50” – The 50 Most Influential Canadian Business Leaders (2017) and received the Commendation from the Governor General for Outstanding Service (2016). Jim also received the Aboriginal Business Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (2009), and Indspire (formerly National Aboriginal Achievement) Award - Business and Commerce (2008).
Queen Elizabeth ll Platinum Jubilee Award (2022)
CAREERS Jim Carter Award (2022)
Alberta Order of Excellence, (2020)
Canadian Energy Person of the Year (2018)
Aboriginal Economic Development Corporation of the Year, awarded by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (2018)
The Power 50 - The 50 Most Influential Canadian Business Leaders by The Globe and Mail Report on Business (2017)
Builder of Wood Buffalo Award (2017)
Commendation from the Governor General for Outstanding Service (2016)
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo's Award for Achievement in Public Service (2016)
Aboriginal Business Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (2009)
Regional Aboriginal Recognition Award Lifetime Achievement Award (2008)
Indspire (formerly National Aboriginal Achievement) Award - Business and Commerce (2008)
Recognized as one of the 50 most influential people in Alberta by Venture Magazine (2003)
Celebrating Excellence Distinguished Achievement Provincial Award from the Public Institutes of Alberta (2002)
Grand Chief of Treaty 8 First Nation of Alberta
Regional Recognition Aboriginal Award Leadership Achievement Award (1998)
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
As a member of Saa Dene executive team, her role is to set the strategic vision and manage the daily operations of the companies.
Prior to that, she was an Executive Director at Fort McKay First Nation and responsible for corporate and community governance, administration, health and human services, communications, stakeholder, public and corporate relations and as management consultant.
Ms. Kitto has over 20 years of combined executive management, economic development, regulatory matters, crisis and risk management and governance experience. Her career has spanned work in the public, private, government and non-profit sectors. Specializing in guiding organizations to operate more efficiently and profitably by focusing on the spectrum of challenges that business leaders and governments face – from long range strategic planning and is the critical day-to-day business matters.
Throughout her career Ms. Kitto has been a mentor with a particular focus on supporting working women and the betterment of Indigenous Peoples and fulfilling their rights over their lands. She is actively involved in her community and currently serves as an advisor, a board of director on several for profit and not for profit, First Nations Group of Companies; and several non-partisan organizations such as the Information Communications Technology Council (ICTC) - a national center of expertise in the digital economy; Calgary Housing Company - provides safe and affordable housing solutions for families; KidSport - All Kids Should Play, and no child should be left on the sidelines; Praxis Spinal Cord Institute; Chair, Onion Lake Group of Companies.
"A legacy of economic opportunity, and social and community services and prosperous families"
Donald R. Lindsay
Chief Executive Officer, TECK Resources
"People feel that in order for them to be engaged and to be valued with respect to discussions of what is happening on their lands they need to be full partners with Canada," he said. "Canada has not stepped up to the plate with respect to dealing with the First Nations on a treaty issue basis, and they avoid having this discussion and it's not contributing to a healthy economic development situation."
"Please don't buy into the environmentalist argument, they're the ones who, at the end of the day, were successful in creating poverty in northern Canada, right across the board."
Chief Boucher, Assembly of First Nations
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