August 9, 2022 By Lawrie Crawford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Yukon News
On July 26, four development corporations from Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Kluane, Carcross/Tagish and Selkirk First Nations announced a partnership with Alkan Air to support the provision of medevac services to Yukon communities.
“With this partnership we are increasing Yukon First Nation equity participation in the provision of this essential service and we are excited to see this partnership continue to grow,” said Jani Djokic, CEO of Na-Cho Nyak Dun Development Corporation. Djokic is also the chairperson of the newly created entity called the Yukon First Nations Air Leasing Limited Partnership.
This new partnership purchased two of Alkan Air’s King Air 350 aircraft on June 22. Alkan Air has a long history in the Yukon, with a flight school and a long-held contract for Yukon’s medevac services for over 30 years.
The expectation is that, moving forward, Yukon First Nations Air Leasing Limited Partnership will be the provider of medevac aircraft to Alkan Air, while Alkan Air will continue to be the Yukon’s current provider of medevac services.
“This new partnership is another opportunity to move towards reconciliation with Yukon First Nations while highlighting aviation as a potential career opportunity for future generations,” said Wendy Tayler, Alkan Air Ltd. CEO.
This is the second high profile partnership with First Nation development corporations in two months. In June, 13 First Nation development corporations announced that they were forming a new entity called Yukon First Nations Telco Limited Partnership to partner with Northwestel. The First Nations Telco is to purchase the community-based fibre assets of Northwestel throughout Yukon, then Northwestel has a 20-year agreement to maintain, operate and lease them back.
Taylor Love, CEO of Haa Chali Development Corporation, which is a new entity of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation involved in both deals, explained how these partnership arrangements provide benefits for all partners. He attributes the Yukon government’s new First Nations procurement policy as a bit of a game changer in the way it provides advantages for partnered companies, giving them a leg up in the procurement process.
First Nations also benefit from the steady stream of income, training opportunities and experience working with well-established companies. More capital and higher levels of sophistication are making these more complex deals doable.
Love added there seems to be a collective sense of “a rising tide lifts all boats” in terms of strengthening and developing Yukon business entities and their collective regional economies and interests.