New NAABA Building Offers Spaces for Wood Buffalo’s Indigenous Entrepreneurs

The Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA) is providing networking spaces for Indigenous businesses in Wood Buffalo.

The extra meeting rooms and office spaces are part of NAABA’s new downtown building, which opened in June. The Biggs Avenue building is the first to have space set aside for Wood Buffalo’s Indigenous businesses. Michelle Toner, executive director for NAABA, said a dedicated networking centre had been a goal for many years.

“Indigenous business is rapidly growing and expanding right across the country,” she said. “In the past, we didn’t have our own space to provide these services and it was definitely a barrier.”

The four workspaces include the Suncor Community Enterprise Centre, Syncrude Incubator Offices, the Tuccaro Executive Boardroom and the Bouchier Think Tank. Offices can be leased on a short-term basis. The boardroom and think tank will be available to rent for workspaces or hosting community events.

NAABA is asking businesses to schedule visits so physical distancing requirements are met.

Nicole Bourque-Bouchier, co-owner and CEO of the Fort McKay-based construction and contracting company Bouchier Group, said spaces like the new NAABA building are crucial for Indigenous identity. The Bouchier Think Tank is a space where Indigenous entrepreneurs can brainstorm ideas.

“Indigenous businesses have to support and celebrate other Indigenous businesses,” said Bourque-Boucher. “It definitely helps solidify our place in the community which has been long standing for a number of years,” said Bouchier.

Indigenous business owners are looking forward to the opportunities of the new spaces. Shawn Myers, general manager for McMurray Métis’ business arm, said the building is helpful during the pandemic.

“With COVID in the region, we need all the places we can get to be able to conduct meetings,” said Myers. “We have a lot of business dealings in town and we will definitely use the service quite graciously.”