By Leslie Knibbs
SAGAMOK ANISHNAWBEK FIRST NATION—North America is perhaps one of the last great strongholds of free enterprise. Large corporations are gobbling up smaller companies at an alarming rate; however, when politicians speak of the economy, small business is referred to as “the backbone of the economy.” With cutbacks, layoffs and other forces workers cannot control, many individuals are in the spirit of free enterprise—taking a risk and deciding to ‘go it alone’ and venturing into the world of self-employment or entrepreneurship; such is the case with Arthur Trudeau and his wife Amanda from Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation (SFN).
Like many others, Arthur suffered layoffs and cutbacks working in the mining industry leading the couple to make the decision to look at creating their own work. The end result of two years of planning and hard work has come to fruition with the formation of “Mukwa Adventures.”
At a ribbon cutting ceremony in SFN on April 30, Arthur and Amanda launched their new business, Mukwa Adventures. Those present included MPP Michael Mantha, local Chief Paul Eshkogen, family members and friends, suppliers, as well as Dawn Madahbee, General Manager of Waubetek Development Corporation.
“It’s one of the beautiful things I get to see,” stated Madahbee referring to a new business start-up. “I’m so proud of some of the things these young people and entrepreneurs are doing.”
Waubetek as well as Sagamok Development Corporation continue to be strong supporters of new business ventures. Since 1989, Waubetek has supported approximately 2,700 projects with 73 million dollars. Madahbee encourages others to take the risk and look at opportunities of self-employment.
Mukwa provides ATV adventure tours in the Northeast Region on a fleet of Can Am 450s, all fully automatic with power steering, mid-range power and all of the safety gear. Prior to going out on a tour, all guests are given instruction on ATV operation, safety training and equipment. Options available to guests include anything from a four-hour adventure tour to a full-weekend including camping, meals and lodging.
Mukwa is working with resorts in the Algoma and Manitoulin region such as Ritchie Falls Resort and Dunlop Lake Lodge. As part of the tour, accommodation and meals are provided by lodges participating in a tour. Other lodges expected to participate include Waterfalls Lodge, Cutler Lake Lodge, and Magpie Lodge in Douberville, according to Trudeau.
Owner Operator Arthur Trudeau speaks of “spending the majority of his life in and around Mother Nature as a hunter and gatherer”.
“I learned my oral traditions from my father, Harvey Trudeau and his father,” shared Trudeau.
Trudeau further enhanced his education by completing a diploma at Sault College as a Natural Environmental Technician.
“I hold traditional values close to my heart and I believe they have guided me to where I am today as a man, a husband and father,” expressed Trudeau.
Trudeau suggested that a good guide for living one’s life is to “look to the future without losing your past”.
Mukwa promises adventures “into the grandeur of the Northern Woods where guests can expect to experience the Boreal Forest and all its wonders”. Two experienced guides accompany the tours. In a wolf-pack, the Alpha trails at a distance behind the pack keeping a protective eye on others; another is where the wolf takes the lead. It is much the same on a The Trudeau duo act as guides as well as Conrad Toulouse and Andy Gilchrist. All are experienced in the woods and ATVing.
Mukwa Adventure’s slogan reads, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? That is the question Arthur and Amanda Trudeau are asking potential guests these days. The company name comes from ‘Mukwa’ meaning bear in Ojibway; also, Arthur’s mother, Delores, is of the Bear Clan.
With the new start up, plans are in the works to establish their business in the Industrial Park at SFN when the park is completed. At that time, an office and storage facility will be built. Presently, Mukwa is operated on the couple’s property east of Spanish. The Trudeaus are grateful for the funding assistance from Waubetek and the Sagamok Development Corporation as well as Kevin Rose of Northern Approach in Little Current who assisted in drawing up their business plan.