Denesoline Corporation is the NWT’s most successful Indigenous-owned company, and the proud recipient of Canada’s most prestigious business award for two consecutive years, the 2019 and 2020 Canada Award for Business Excellence. “The Canada Awards for Excellence are the national quality awards of Canada. They are administered by Excellence Canada, a not-for-profit organization on behalf of the Governor General of Canada. Industry Canada established the awards in 1984 as the Canadian Business Excellence Awards.” Denesoline Corporation is the business development arm of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation and, unlike other Indigenous-owned companies, is run by an independent CEO and Board of Directors, not by Chief and Council, providing a focus on the business. Denesoline Corporation recently launched the world’s first and only indigenous-owned and traditional indigenous-themed innovation center, the Lutsel K’e Dene DreamMaker Innovation Centre.
Currently the company has four major innovative initiatives underway. These include:
(I) Aeroponics (1700% more powerful than traditional seasonal farming) combined with hydroponics and aquaponics farming and fishing, with a focus on allowing remote indigenous communities to be self-sufficient in the harvesting of fruits, vegetables and fish. Aeroponics allows community members to extend beyond a limited diet of fish and potatoes.
(II) 3D Printing of aluminum car and motor replacement parts using carbon fiber reinforced nylon, fiber glass, Kevlar, and 3D Printing of custom items
(III) Regeneration and filtration of used and waste lube oils into usable heating oil
(IV) Pyrolysis of tires and plastic to produce heating oil, carbon black, and steel
Business innovation was discussed above. Below are some testimonials from delighted customers.
“For three years, in my time as CEO of Dominion Diamond Corporation, I had the pleasure of working closely with the Denesoline Corporation. A strong advocate for the community of Lutsel K’e business interests, I found Denesoline to be a valuable and reliable partner. In a wide range of businesses, from providing lubricants for our heavy machinery, to partnering in ice road construction, Denesoline did the job safely and helped Dominion achieve its objectives. The community of Lutsel K’e and the northern economy, more broadly, continue to benefit from the efforts of the Denesoline Corporation.”
Brendan Bell, Former CEO, Dominion Diamond Corporation, (largest diamond mine in Canada, 3rd largest diamond mining company globally)
“I would like to thank your organization for your unwavering support and professionalism. As you are aware, we are making good progress on market share and it is a true testament to the effectiveness of our practical approach to service delivery, safety and efficiency. Once again, it’s a privilege to be a partner and we view it that way. In my opinion our relationship has been built on trust and that will last a lifetime.”
Adam Bembridge, President, Acasta HeliFlight Inc.
Lee Cawson, VP Operations, Aurora Group
And lastly, in terms of employee engagement, Mr. Iqbal Bhatti, BSEE, MSc., EP, Denesoline’s Director of Technical Applications, states, “During my thirty-year career, I’ve lived and successfully conducted business in, three continents and dozens of countries. I’ve dealt with numerous organizations globally and worked for some of the best. However, I moved from the UK to Yellowknife, to work for Denesoline Corporation because I have never seen such a unique opportunity to work with such an outstanding company. From an exceptional emphasis on employee welfare and health, to flex hours, to encouraging creativity, to as flat an organizational structure as possible, to totally honest and open communication and feedback, to highly creative focus groups, think tanks, and retreats, to repeated unparalleled achievements, Denesoline provides the best working environment of any company I’ve worked.”
“With repeatedly tested and proven, unparalleled innovation, integrity, commitment, service, value-provided, and overall excellence in business achievement; and with demonstrated delighted customers, partners, employees and stakeholders; and with unprecedented and unmatched contributions to, and excellence in, community development and welfare; the award-winning Denesoline Corporation continues pioneering innovative, superior, one-of-a-kind, self-reliant, flagship solutions to longstanding, persisting, widely prevalent, daunting socio-economic challenges facing indigenous communities and businesses here, while also consistently outperforming its far larger peers across the board since 2014; in business and financial success; demonstrated corporate social responsibility; and actual cash community contributions, welfare, and development; just like the story of ‘The Little Engine that Could,’ ” stated Ron Barlas, Denesoline’s CEO, the visionary and strategist behind these ground-breaking, life-changing initiatives aimed at making Denesoline the best it can be in business; a world leader in indigenous circumpolar innovation; and a pioneer in developing superior sustainable solutions to seemingly impossible, long lingering indigenous challenges and problems. “I know we can make a real difference,” said Barlas continuing, “As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, and as we tell our indigenous community members ‘Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true,’ “Just like ‘The Little Engine that Could,’" he added.
Located in the remote northern community of Lutsel K’e, Dene DreamMaker reflects Denesoline’s innovative business culture and business excellence, and supports its vision and strategy for community development, and health & wellness. The challenges faced in remote northern indigenous communities, including the extreme cold, are unique and often unforgiving. The centre will serve as the facility to create, test, and launch sustainable multidisciplinary solutions in the northern environment, thereby playing a pivotal role in manifesting Denesoline’s vision of being a world leader in indigenous circumpolar innovation.
Entirely self-financed, self-sufficient, and self-reliant, based on Denesoline’s ongoing business success and earnings, the state-of-the-art Dene DreamMaker facility provides education and training via “edutainment” (education through entertainment) by employing 3D printers, drones, virtual reality (VR) systems, gaming systems, and coding and media software, all in a comforting, welcoming, traditional indigenous themed environment. Participant focus is geared towards increasing creative intelligence, releasing untapped potential, and generating income from remote locations, in the fields of digital marketing, 3D printing, drone technology, media, design, coding, and gaming. DreamMaker will work hand in hand with an ongoing community-wide “Wolf’s Den” program (adapted from Dragon’s Den), whereby community members will be taught to prepare and present their business ideas, with cash prizes to assist the winners in their endeavors. Denesoline walks the walk on innovation.
In terms of business success, excellence, innovation, and providing unbeatable value to clients, Denesoline Corporation’s start-up, DTR First Nation’s Construction, conceived, negotiated, developed, and represented by Denesoline’s CEO, competed against the well-established, sole incumbents, who had built the winter ice-road, the life line to Canada’s Arctic Diamond Mines, for the past 20 years. Denesoline successfully wrestled away a substantial portion of this crucial lifeline contract due to its innovative approach, saving Canada’s NWT Diamond Mines $10,000,000 in 3 years, and performing safely and commendably by all accounts.
Similarly, Denesoline Corporation helped end a decades long monopoly enjoyed by the largest oil company in the world at the NWT diamond mines, by saving the largest diamond mine in Canada millions of dollars on technically superior lubricants. Besides ice road construction and lubricants, Denesoline also supplies the following products and services to the diamond mines in NWT – Aviation, Bulk Freight, Diamond Core Drilling, Electrical and Mechanical Services, Environmental Services, Explosives, General Freight, Heavy Duty Tires, Heavy Haul Freight, Heliflight, Mining, Mine Site Construction and Maintenance, Staffing, and Steel Fabrication. Denesoline also provides firefighting services to the government and invests in real estate. And as a testament to its overall performance, Denesoline is the only indigenous owned company in NWT to have been profitable in each of the past five years, and to have no debt at all. Denesoline is also the only indigenous-owned company, representing an impacted community, to successfully negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the multi-billion-dollar Jay Pipe Extension project with Dominion Diamond.
Additionally, Denesoline is the recipient of Industry Canada’s 2019 Canada Award for Business Excellence, on behalf of the Governor General of Canada, described on Excellence Canada’s site as follows, “Our nation’s most coveted organizational awards program for recognizing outstanding achievement.….Applicants are evaluated in three key performance areas: (1) Delighted Customers; (2) Engaged Employees; and (3) Innovation…The recipients are role models of excellence in the areas of leadership, governance, strategy, planning, customer experience, employee engagement, innovation and wellness….but one thing they all have in common is a focus on continuous improvement and the pursuit of excellence.”
In addition to pioneering superior, innovative solutions in business, and having delighted customers, partners, and employees, Denesoline is addressing the extensive developmental challenges facing its remote northern indigenous community. In fiscal 2018 Denesoline spent 5 times more on community development than in the entire 20 years between 1994 and 2014. In fact, between 2014-2019 Denesoline has contributed 20 times more to its community in just 5 years than in the previous 20 years combined. Denesoline also contributed more to Lutsel k’e in the last fiscal year than all the diamond mines operating on the impacted communities’ traditional lands combined, on the following one-of-a-kind community development programs.
Food Security Program: Due to the remote location of Lutsel K'e, groceries are extremely expensive and limited, so the Denesoline Food Security Program provides each household 40 kg. food hampers four times a year, on Easter, Canada Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These food hampers comprise of various types of fresh meat, grains, vegetables, and dry groceries typically consumed in indigenous homes.
Annual Cash Distribution: Denesoline is alone among its peers to annually redistribute wealth into its community via an actual annual cash distribution to every household.
Community Training Program: Denesoline’s training programs teach community members life and employability skills, helping enhance quality of life, and opening up new career possibilities.
Hope Through Quality of Life Enhancement Program: Denesoline’s café and food truck, allow community members to eat out and locally purchase some of their favourite treats - like fried chicken and fries - for the first time in their lives. Denesoline’s donation of a full youth center, including the building and all items within, help enhance youth quality of life.
Sports Participation Initiative: Providing financial assistance to community members participating in sports, improving their quality of life via recreation, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and fostering teamwork.
Culture Maintenance Program: Helps preserve indigenous traditions and culture.
Youth Education Program: Provides scholarships to youth.
Women's Leadership Program: Supports and encourages gender equality.
Traditional Craft Appreciation Program: Supports traditional arts and provide a local market for community-based artists.