Focused on Building a Strong, Sustainable Economic Future in Northern Manitoba: Pedersen

March 26, 2019

The Manitoba government is taking an important step to advance northern economic development and position the region for long-term success, Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen announced today.

“We’ve said from day one that in order to build a sustainable future in the region, northern economic development must be led by northerners, based on the understanding the people of the north best understand their own needs,” said Pedersen. “The past few years have shown that when the entire region can unite to address the shared economic opportunities and challenges we face, together we can succeed.”

The province is appointing five new members to the board of directors of the Communities Economic Development Fund (CEDF):

James (Jamie) Wilson (Opaskwayak Cree Nation) is appointed chairperson of the board. He is vice-president of corporate development for the Arctic Gateway Group and former deputy minister of Manitoba Education and Training and Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade. Wilson previously served as treaty commissioner at the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, director of education at the Opaskwayak Educational Authority, as an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and a U.S. Army Ranger.
Chuck Davidson (Winnipeg) is appointed member of the board. He is the president and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC). Prior to joining the MCC, he spent close to a decade at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce as the vice-president of policy and communications. Davidson served as co-chair of the Look North task force, and was born and raised in the northern community of Snow Lake. Becky Cianflone (Flin Flon) is appointed member of the board. She is the executive director of Community Futures Greenstone. Cianflone previously worked as a business analyst for Community Futures Triple R and chamber manager for the Altona and District Chamber of Commerce. She studied business administration at Red River College and her board experience includes the Northern Manitoba Tourism Advisory Committee, UCN Governing Council and the Flin Flon Women’s Resource Centre.
Doug Lauvstad (The Pas) is appointed member of the board. He is the president and chancellor of the University College of the North. Lauvstad previously served as executive director for the Northern Manitoba Sector Council, an association of the mining, forestry and energy sectors of Manitoba focused on workforce development. He has served on numerous other boards and committees including as chair of the Northern Regional Health Authority board of directors.
Colleen Smook (Thompson) is appointed member of the board. She is the mayor of the City of Thompson. She has worked in the construction industry, is owner of McCreedy Campground and has served on numerous boards in the community.

“As a member of Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, it is exciting to accept the challenge of continuing to grow partnerships and opportunities ‎in our northern economy as the new chair of the CEDF,” said Jamie Wilson, vice-president of corporate development, Arctic Gateway Group. “Implementing the Look North strategy will be a critical part of our work to advance growth across all sectors.”

“This announcement follows through on a commitment our government made through the Look North initiative to help empower northern Manitobans to build a brighter economic future in the region,” said Pedersen. “We are delighted these five northern leaders have agreed to continue to help lead the way.”

Announced in December as part of the government’s Economic Growth Action Plan, CEDF has been identified as the province’s regional economic development partner for northern Manitoba to coordinate the delivery of services for companies, entrepreneurs and communities. CEDF will also be the lead entity for the implementation of the Look North initiative, the minister noted.

Pedersen confirmed the province has provided CEDF’s board with a renewed mandate, which includes:

collaborating with the Manitoba government and engaging with northern municipalities, Indigenous communities, businesses, training providers and other stakeholders to advance initiatives that grow local companies and industries, create jobs, attract talent and investment and increase the economic competitiveness and prosperity of northern Manitoba; and
undertaking a board-led review of CEDF’s existing loan programming, and submitting a robust analysis and recommendations to government later this year.

To learn more about Manitoba’s Economic Growth Action Plan, visit More information on the Look North initiative is available at

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For more information:

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.