BRIDG Program Launch - Groundbreaking Initiative Announces 9 Partnerships

SASKATOON, Oct. 27 /CNW/ - Westcap Mgt. Ltd. (Westcap) today announced the inclusion of nine successful First Nations and Métis communities into a new initiative that will help establish Aboriginal energy and resource businesses in Saskatchewan.

In April 2009 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) committed to provide $3.9 million, through the Major Resource and Energy Directorate (MRED), towards a three-year pilot project focused on providing capital and training to Aboriginal communities to make them "business-ready". The Business Ready Investment Development Gateway (BRIDG) program is a model designed and delivered by Westcap and monitored by INAC. Under this innovative approach, communities will receive support to establish an economic development corporation, retain and mentor a business champion, and establish proper governance procedures, readying them to take advantage of key business opportunities in the resource and energy sector.

Designed as a highly competitive process, BRIDG received 30 applications from across Saskatchewan representing 78 First Nations and Métis communities. Applications were received from First Nations communities, Tribal Councils, Métis Regions, Locals and Northern Municipalities, along with a mixture of Economic Development Partnerships and Organizations, each expressing interest and recognized need for the pilot project.

"Aboriginal people are ready to participate in the business opportunities available in Saskatchewan, as is evidenced by the overwhelming interest in the BRIDG program. Westcap is excited to work with the First Nations and Métis communities to focus on developing and implementing the business infrastructure necessary to capitalize on these opportunities," says Wanda Hunchak, Vice President of Westcap.

Westcap President and CEO, Grant Kook announced the nine selected applicants today which included:

    Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation
    Birch Narrows Dene Nation
    Carry the Kettle First Nation
    File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council
    Flying Dust First Nation
    Sturgeon Lake First Nation
    Thunderchild First Nation
    Western Region III Métis Nation of Saskatchewan
    Whitebear First Nation

"These nine BRIDG communities are a sampling of the future of business in Saskatchewan where Aboriginal people fully participate in and contribute to the provincial economy. Working with our strategic partners, the BRIDG program will be a facilitator of wealth creation and sustainable jobs for Aboriginal people." Says Kook. "There is an overwhelming demand for better governance and business practices in Aboriginal communities as evidenced by the number of applicants."

Going forward, Westcap will work with the nine successful applicants, to realize their business readiness goals and identify and complete investment transactions in the energy and resource sector.

About Westcap Mgt. Ltd.: Westcap Mgt. Ltd. is a leading Saskatchewan based venture capital and private equity fund manager with more than $225 million in assets under management. Westcap specializes in development and management of niche funds focused on strategic sectors within Saskatchewan and most notable for the launch of Saskatchewan's first and largest retail venture capital Fund, Golden Opportunities Fund Inc.

SOURCE Westcap Mgt. Ltd.

For further information: For further information: Wanda Hunchak, Vice President, Westcap Mgt. Ltd., 1300 - 410 - 22nd St. E., Saskatoon, SK, S7K 5T6, Tel: (306) 665-0200, Fax: (306) 652-8186

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