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Tłįcho Investment Corporation's sole female board member removed – Cabin Radio

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The chair of the Tłįcho Investment Corporation’s board has been removed, though the reasons for her departure from the role remain unclear.

After a year on the board, chair Morven MacPherson says she was told last Wednesday that the Chief’s Executive Council had decided to terminate her involvement.

MacPherson said she was informed by email from Laura Duncan, the Tłįcho Government’s executive officer. Cabin Radio has not seen the email.

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The Tłįcho Investment Corporation is the Tłįcho Government’s economic development arm, owning 22 companies and forming part of several joint ventures.

Board members are appointed by the Chief’s Executive Council for three-year terms, which can be extended by an additional term.

MacPherson believes she was replaced by former Tłįcho grand chief Eddie Erasmus, though this was not confirmed by the Tłįcho Government. No other board members were removed.

MacPherson said she first realized she had been removed when she began receiving calls about it, describing her distress at the lack of a courtesy phone call or advance warning. She said Duncan’s email arrived to a personal address she checks only after work.

However, MacPherson told Cabin Radio her removal was not a complete surprise.

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“I wasn’t as upset as I could have been because I already knew that some of the chiefs really didn’t like me,” she said. “I was already made aware that those chiefs wanted me off the board.”

In a statement, the Tłı̨chǫ Government said the Chief’s Executive Council – the grand chief and four community chiefs – regularly reviews appointments and “from time to time” makes new appointments.

“Broadly speaking, the rationale underpinning all director appointments is to advance the mission of the Tłı̨chǫ Investment Corporation,” the statement read. “More specific details regarding the appointment or removal of a director are confidential and it would be inappropriate for Tłı̨chǫ Government to comment on Morven MacPherson’s departure.”

‘Trying to improve’ corporation’s finances

Fellow board member Ted Blondin expressed concern at MacPherson’s removal, saying he had not heard of the decision in advance and only found out from MacPherson. Blondin said the board had made progress in the past year, putting in place policies and dealing with debt recovery.

“We were able to sell our trucking company so that we can get to deal with some of the larger debts. So we’re making progress and all of a sudden, this happens,” he said.

The investment corporation’s economic issues were most recently apparent when trucking companies it owned filed for creditor protection in December. The companies posted losses of $18 million in 2018-19 alone.

The investment corporation said in December it had sunk $37.6 million into the four companies over the years to keep them afloat. The decision to close the companies was said to affect 40 employees, alongside freelance owner-operators associated with the companies’ operations.

Morven MacPherson in a photo on the Tłįcho Investment Corporation’s website.

MacPherson said she had been trying to drive change at the investment corporation – change she said Tłįcho citizens had requested.

“We were trying to improve the organization, make it better,” she said. “And so for me, being removed from that board when I was part of that important work, I’m really sad for the people of the Tłįcho nation.”

One resident, Doreen Arrowmaker, said she was unhappy to hear the board would lose MacPherson’s “integrity.”

“I wasn’t happy with it,” said Arrowmaker, who made clear she was speaking as a concerned Tłįcho citizen and not on behalf of any organization. “I know every decision that she has made thus far … her focus has always been the vulnerable Tłįcho citizens.

“I’d like to see fairness and equality, a transparent process. To come up with a plan to remove the chairperson, a highly educated woman for that matter, who has a strong background in business … I think it’s an unwise move.”

‘They go and remove the only lady’

Why she was removed remains unclear to MacPherson, who said she couldn’t think of any reason.

“I didn’t do anything that I wasn’t supposed to do, as far as I’m aware, and any decision I made was done with my other board members. I didn’t go ahead and do anything on my own,” she said.

MacPherson said some people didn’t like her motivations for joining the board, which she made clear on her appointment.

“When I got on that board, I made it very clear that I was not sitting on that board for myself, I was not sitting on that board for my family, and I was not sitting on that board for my friend,” she said. (In the past, the Tłįcho Investment Corporation has been accused of running some companies like “personal fiefdoms” for chiefs and their friends and relatives.)

“I made it very clear that I was there to represent all Tłįcho shareholders, which is every single Tłįcho citizen,” said MacPherson.

Blondin said he was not aware of any reason why MacPherson was removed. She has held roles in the Tłįcho Government and is currently Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty’s constituency assistant in Yellowknife.

The only female member on the investment corporation’s board, MacPherson said she had been in touch with several women since news of her removal.

“The ladies are upset because I was one lady on a board of six,” she said. “All the chiefs are men. So they go and remove the only lady that was on the board, an educated lady.”

Arrowmaker said many educated women find it difficult working and sharing their skills in a patriarchal system.

“It’s almost as if we have to jump through many hoops to prove ourselves to be worthy,” said Arrowmaker.

“It’s such an unfair system that we have. Inequality is so great.”

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Canadian pension giant writes off $150mn Celsius investment – Financial Times

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Canada’s second-largest pension fund manager has written off its $150mn investment in crypto lending platform Celsius Network and conceded it went into crypto “too soon”.

Charles Emond, chief executive of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), said its investment in Celsius last October marked the end of its foray into the digital asset industry.

Celsius became one of the biggest names to be caught by the sharp collapse in the price of digital assets in the spring. In June it froze customer withdrawals and weeks later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York, a move that revealed a $1.2bn hole in the company’s balance sheet.

CDPQ, the $304bn investment firm that manages pension plans and insurance programmes in Quebec, said on Wednesday the stake in Celsius was written off “out of prudence”.

“For us it’s clear when we look at all of this, even if the last chapter has not been written, that we went in too soon into a sector that was in transition, with a business that had to manage extremely quick growth,” Emond said.

The group’s comments on Wednesday mark a sharp contrast to October, when it said its Celsius investment was a sign of its “conviction” in blockchain technology.

The write-off of the group’s Celsius holdings — a small slice of its overall portfolio — came as the fund manager reported a C$28bn ($22bn) fall in assets in the six months to the end of June this year. CDPQ said its portfolio was hit by a “rare and simultaneous” fall in both equity and bond markets, which led to a 7.9 per cent hit on its portfolio.

“The first six months of the year were very challenging,” said Emond, adding that its portfolio had still performed better than its benchmark, which was down 10.5 per cent.

Responding publicly for the first time since Celsius’s slide into bankruptcy, Emond said: “Whether it is Celsius or any other investment, needless to say that when we write it off, we are disappointed with the outcome and not happy.”

Emond said he was aware there were challenges regarding crypto investments, but that “perhaps we underestimated the challenges”.

He felt “a lot of empathy” for Celsius investors, and said the fund manager was “reserving our comments and exploring our legal options” related to the situation.

Asked if he regretted the Celsius investment, Emond, said: “As an investor it is a constant and never-ending learning process. You learn and make sure you don’t repeat the mistake.” He added the company never takes “any dollar loss lightly”.

Emond declined to go into detail on the internal repercussions of the investment. However, he added that “the teams will be accountable, as they always are”.

He also confirmed that CDPQ is not interested in further investments into crypto but said the pension fund manager was still optimistic on the future of blockchain technology. “The straight answer would be yes . . . you know, in these disruptive technologies, there’s ups and downs.”

What does the future hold for digital currencies? Our digital finance news editor Philip Stafford and digital assets correspondent Scott Chipolina had a broad discussion on an Instagram live about this topic, including the impact of regulation and inflation on crypto. Watch it here.

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Local startups benefit from $35000 investment – The Kingston Whig-Standard

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Kingston Economic Development Corporation is investing $35,000 in 12 entrepreneurs in Kingston through their Starter Company Plus program.

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These micro grants will aid in the growing of the local startups in getting their feet off of the ground alongside business training and personal coaching for business owners.

According to Rob Tamblyn, Business Development Manager of Small & Medium Enterprises – the pandemic as resulted in many Kingstonians pursuing their own businesses.

“We are proud to be able to offer support and guidance to them through the Kingston Economic Development,” said Tamblyn.

The wide array of businesses that will benefit from this grant span from tattoo and spa services to contracting and driving schools, he said.

“Since the pandemic, we have certainly seen an uptick in the number of inquiries from people who are wanting to go into business for themselves.” Tamblyn said, explaining the need for funding.

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Kingston Economic Development Corporation was created with the mission of supporting the Kingston economy through providing mentorship and funds to a variety of business enterprises.

Little Friday is one of the twelve businesses in the spring cohort, Soren Gregersen and Ciara Roberts, co-founders of the new video production company, spoke to the Whig about the program.

Officially opening it’s doors in February of this year, Gregersen and Roberts heard of the Starter Company Plus Program from a business that participated last year.

“We’re going to spend the money on (Search Engine Optimization) to get some online presence and a bit of money on gear so that we can up our production value and capacity,” Gregersen said, referring to the vitality of a virtual presence in early stages.

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“We’re fortunate in Kingston to be able to offer two separate cohorts, one in the spring and one in the fall.” Tamblyn said. “So we’re able to inject $70,000 into startups or existing businesses seeking to expand.”

Each year, the corporation provides $35,000 in micro grants for each cohort to local businesses with funding from the Government of Ontario. Business owners are able to receive up to $5,000 based on the strength of their business pitches, decided on by a panel of community judges.

Accepted participants not only receive funding, but also attend a week-long virtual boot camp covering market research, digital marketing, small business financing, and hiring practice to ensure that each entrepreneur is set up with the resources and information for success.

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Roberts told the Whig that the boot camp and additional resources offered by the program has been invaluable. “It gave us a week to really sit down and put pen to paper on what we wanted little Friday to be about.”

“We focused on figuring out long term goals, marketing strategies, and marketing sales forecasts (in the boot camp)”

The pair has been receiving one on one coaching from business experts where time is allotted to get specific on obstacles that arise in the early days of business.

Interested start-up owners can apply to the Fall 2022 cohort from now until September 11 through the Invest Kingston website.

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Federal government touts London, Ont. region as possible site for investment by Boeing – CTV News London

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A pair of initiatives aimed at attracting high-skilled jobs to the region have captured the attention of the federal government.

On Tuesday, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry François-Philippe Champagne sat down for an interview with CTV News London to discuss the growing electric vehicle (EV) sector and other high-tech industries in southwestern Ontario.

“I don’t know if you’ve been following me!” joked a surprised Champagne when asked about rumours that aerospace company Boeing is considering a significant investment in London and the surrounding region.

He says talks are ongoing with Boeing about further investment in Canada — and confirms this region is in the running.

“London has the key ingredients that you [need] to attract this type of investment in the industry,” the minister explains.

Boeing is one of the largest aerospace design and manufacturing companies in the world.

Champagne suggested he is targeting investments that reduce the environmental impact of the aerospace industry, in particular, greener propulsion.

“What we’ve done in the automotive sector I dream of doing in the aerospace sector, which is greening the industry,” he adds.

Earlier in the day Champagne was joined by London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos on a tour of Toyota in Woodstock, Ont. focussed on EV investments and technology.

Fragiskatos says the federal government’s ongoing push for electric vehicle and component production in Ontario brings high paying jobs to the region.

“We’re talking about close to $40/hr plus benefits, particularly in this economy its jobs like that that are going to get people through,” says Fragiskatos.

In June, the City of St. Thomas announced the purchase of a 325 hectare (800 acre) parcel of serviced land in the community’s northeast corner aimed at attracting an EV battery plant.

Champagne was aware of the shovel-ready property and enthusiastic about the opportunity.

He believes the EV industry wants to reduce the carbon footprint of battery production, making Ontario’s mostly renewable energy hydro grid very attractive.

“I would applaud what is being done in St. Thomas, and certainly that is the type of creativity that we need,” he says. 

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