NIPAWIN — The Nipawin and District Chamber of Commerce’s new president said he aims to make the business community more inclusive to Indigenous community members.
“We’re going to reach out to the band councils of Red Earth, Shoal Lake – we’re going to try to talk to the folks at Fort à la Corne, James Smith, just anybody who has an interest in the area,” Ben Paskarusk said.
“These people have a lot to contribute and they’ve never really been brought to the table and somebody has to reach out because there is a huge potential for growth.”
Paskarusk was officially sworn in alongside the new board at the president’s gala on Feb. 7. He works as a manager with the Pineland Co-op and has been a member of the Chamber for two years.
“In the bigger cities you’ve got your Costcos and your Walmarts and your Superstores but we have a lot to offer as well. We’re competitive, we have a wide variety of products here in town – and we’re so close. It only makes sense for them to stop here first.”
Another one of his goals as president is to set up an economic development committee within the town.
“The Chamber and the town need to work very closely together. We’re looking at putting together in the next little while we would like to form the economic development committee, so that will be between the business community and the town.”
He said this committee will be open to representatives from anyone who wants to be involved.
“So there could be representatives from the provincial government, the federal government, whoever would like to be involved with facilitating growth in the area.”
Paskaruk intends to form the committee as soon as possible, bringing it to the membership at their annual general meeting in May.
“Hopefully get some interest from our community members to join our committee and hopefully flesh it out.”
Paskaruk said he wanted to take the role of president because he knows what it means to run a business.
“I know what it means to run a business in a small town. I worked in many small towns with the co-op. I worked in Paddockwood, Marceline, Kinistino, Birch Hills, Big River – just numerous places, that’s just to name a few.”
Paskarusk said after his time is over with the chamber he would like to leave a legacy.
“The changes that I plan to make are nothing controversial, nothing political,” he said. “These are things that once in place will benefit not only the Chamber, but the town, the district, the whole business community for years to come.”