After returning from Norway, he attended the University of Saskatchewan and studied history and law. He then attended the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology and received two diplomas in business administration and accountancy.
After many years of working at all levels of First Nations government, Ahenakew has a thorough understanding of federal, provincial and First Nations governments, politics and culture.
In 2002, he and five other very dedicated individuals were presented with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for their work in helping First Nations communities.
“It was an honor and something I certainly didn’t expect in my role as vice chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. We were part of a group that works hard to advance the First Nations cause.”
As CEO of IGR—which has a mandate to licence and regulate on-reserve charitable lottery schemes for First Nations—Ahenakew oversees its operation and administration, and meets and networks with many industry professionals, both First Nation and operators and with government. There is also the opportunity for IGR to replace SLGA as the regulator in First Nations casinos, of which there are six in the province.
“This is very exciting. It means there’s a lot of First Nations people working in these casinos. It’s a very well-run organization. There is a lot of money that goes out to the First Nations as a result of gaming. We have an agreement with the province regarding the licensing of all charitable gaming in First Nations communities as well as SIGA table games. We have a phased process. We’ve completed phase one and are now awaiting the SLGA to begin negotiations of phase II, which is the registration of First Nations gaming employees. Phase III is the registration of gaming suppliers.”
In his limited spare time, this father of four enjoys spending time at home and golfing when he gets a chance. And although he has no major trips planned at this time, mainly due to time commitments, he would like to visit South America or the South Pacific.
And if that weren’t enough, he’s also enrolled in a master’s program in business administration through the University of Regina. “It’s a going to be a long journey,” he says, but no doubt one that he will enjoy.
By Lisa Kopochinski, industry writer