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Salt River chief wins leadership award from Aboriginal financial association

Frieda Martselos named national winner of 2017 MNP-AFOA Canada Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award

CBC News Posted: Feb 06, 2017 4:33 PM CT Last Updated: Feb 06, 2017 4:33 PM CT

The chief of the Salt River First Nation in N.W.T. will receive a leadership award this week.

Frieda Martselos is being recognized for her work in straightening out the First Nation's finances.

Terry Goodtrack is CEO of the Aboriginal Financial Officer Association of Canada, which hands out the MNP-AFOA Canada Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award annually. 


Frieda Martselos, chief of the Salt River First Nation, will receive a national leadership award this week for her work in straightening out the First Nation’s finances. (File photo)

"Her community at the time was, I would say, on the brink of being insolvent," said Goodtrack.

"Service delivery was in disarray. But what she was able to do, she had a vision, a clear vision. She emphasized the ideas of transparency and accountability. She what we call 'walked the talk.'"

He said that included eliminating nonessential and discretionary spending, appointing competent responsible administrators and advisors, finding new revenue streams to support solvency in her community, and establishing robust financial controls and processes.

The First Nation recently opened a Tim Hortons franchise in Fort Smith, N.W.T. The Salt River First Nation's CEO has said it's an attempt to ensure long-term financial stability.

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Business brisk as Salt River First Nation opens Tim Hortons in Fort Smith

Franchise first Tim Hortons in territory outside of Yellowknife, income will be reinvested in First Nation

CBC News Posted: Jan 04, 2017 6:06 PM CT Last Updated: Jan 05, 2017 2:24 PM CT

There's now one more place in the Northwest Territories to get a double-double, as the Salt River First Nation has opened a new Tim Hortons on their reserve land in Fort Smith. 

Although the restaurant — attached to the Petro Canada gas station on Salt River reserve land — doesn't celebrate its grand opening until next week, Allen Stanzell, the CEO of the Salt River First Nation, says the community response has been "a little overwhelming," with lines a regular occurrence at the new coffee shop.

"Probably a bit busier than some of us on the ground were expecting," he said. "But the Tim Hortons people that were involved in this aren't surprised at all."

Allen Stanzel, the CEO of the Salt River First Nation, says that business at the location has been 'a little overwhelming' since it opened. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

The popular coffee franchise — the first Tim Hortons in the territory outside of Yellowknife — was purchased by the Salt River First Nation, and the income will be reinvested back into its own budget.

Based on the number of customers so far, Stanzell says it could be a good investment. 

"It's an institution for Canadians," he said. "It's just something we all seem to be proud of, but the response here is indicative of what we all think about Tim's. So it's good to see."

The Salt River Tim Hortons is not the first location of the iconic Canadian chain to have opened on First Nations territory. Tim Hortons franchises have been opened on the Little Black Bear First Nation in Saskatchewan, the Westbank First Nation in Kelowna, British Columbia, and on the Six Nations reserve in Ontario, among others.

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