Interview with Samson Councillor Pat Buffalo Tuesday, February 28, 2017.
1.Can you tell me about the Eagle Feather Award of Distinction that Samson Management Limited (SML) received in Edmonton on Friday February 24, 2017? Pat: So that’s an award that’s put on by the Alberta Chamber of Commerce and I’m sure that this is not the first time that Samson Management has won the award. So it’s an award presented to an Indigenous owned business demonstrating
outstanding achievement in business. I truly believe that Samson Management Limited totally deserves an award of recognition because if you look at all the businesses, even though this
is a provincial recognition, if you look at the businesses we own, from Samson Cree Nation and Samson Management Limited, it’s a good template in my opinion that combines employment for our members, non-nation members and the demographics that they keep track of like education and gender. So they go the extra mile in analysis of their business. The one thing I believe in business that’s owned by the nation is employment. So we need businesses to create employment for our people. So the number one objective from economic development, I’m also the Chair of Economic Development, so at economic development we look at a business, let’s say a business is not necessarily making huge amounts of money as a profit but they create a hundred jobs. That’s a hundred families that are being fed. A hundred families that are paying the bills. There’s a huge value in that you know. Mostly in the moniyaw world, first and foremost is the bottom line: profit, how much money are we going to make? They forget the people. It’s sȏniyâw. No, our philosophy at the nation level is people first. How many jobs are we creating? Then the business has to sustain itself. So Samson Management, because I sit on the board, some of our businesses do struggle and some of them are very busy. Let’s say like the Okeymowkisik Gas Bar, it’s a very busy business but doesn’t make huge amounts of money. So it doesn’t make a lot of money, it generates a lot of revenue but it also costs big money to run that business. So we have all these businesses that are there creating employment and that’s what SML does, it creates employment.
2. How long have you been a Board Member? Pat: By virtue of my position as a Councillor, that’s why I sit on the board. Samson Management Limited has non-affiliate, that means non-band members sitting on the board. We have two of them that sit on the board. And we have band members, non-elected that also sit on the board. Then we have, I believe we have four elected
members that sit on the board. So I started when I got my position as an elected councillor back in 2014, so three years. But off and on in my life so I’ve been there before.
3. What would be one element that makes SML unique? Pat: Unique in a sense of what? Guide: I like the way you said creation of employment for nation members as opposed to profit making.
Pat: That’s right. I think that’s the biggest thing that is unique about Samson Management Limited is that they do go with that philosophy. You know the jobs we create, not necessarily big profit,
the better it is. One of the first cheap shots I got was that Samson does not hire its own people. That’s false. A lot of our band members work with Samson Management Limited. If people are getting
terminated there’s a reason for that. People need to take ownership of their conduct and attitudes in the workplace. Nobody gets fired for no reason.
4. Do you know of any other business company like SML in Alberta? Pat: Okay, a lot of First Nations create a business entity to be their business division. Samson Management Limited is one
amongst many corporations that Samson owns. So not all businesses that Samson owns fit into Samson Management Limited. So whereas other First Nations have one business entity where they fit all their businesses in there. So Samson Management’s role is to manage the businesses that they have. So as far as creating new business opportunities we have economic development that has a role in that. Management can grow their company based on adding to their existing businesses. Like real estate is huge for Samson Management Limited but Samson Tribal Enterprises, which is farm and ranch, has huge holdings in real estate. We own over sixteen thousand acres of land off the reserve and right now Samson Management is managing is managing the farm and ranch division so their kind of overseeing these assets, these land holdings. Recently I went to an exercise of identifying what is called ‘lazy assets.’ Assets that are not really doing anything for the nation but you know it’s an assessment and evaluation on what we have. So to answer that I think it’s quite unique how Samson structures its businesses.
5. Last question, is there anyone you would like to thank at this point? Pat: I would like to thank the staff and management at Samson Management Limited. We have a good diverse board that’s very effective and they like to speak their truth. They say it as it is, they don’t bear around the bush. Including our non-affiliates. They challenge us a lot. So I want to thank the shareholders, the community and anybody that supports our businesses. It is, I guess, something that we don’t brag enough about. Is that we are our own success. I have taken many kinds of symposiums, where in Membertou band in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick [Nova Scotia] has an eight percent reliance on the federal government. Osoyoos [B.C.] has eighteen percent reliance on the federal government. Samson still has a huge reliance on the federal government and that’s a challenge we have to address is that we need to generate more of what they call self-generated revenue to create more jobs. That’s what it’s about.