Business and Commerce (2002)
Famed broadcaster and environmentalist David Suzuki describes Leonard Flett as a modest man doing heroic work. Residents in more than 100 Aboriginal communities touched by The North West Company would agree. Since he joined North West in the early 1960s, Mr. Flett has risen quickly through the ranks – and taken his people with him. Almost a generation later, he’s become one of only a handful of Aboriginal people to hold a senior position – Vice President, Store Development and Public Affairs – in a major corporation in Canada. Under his leadership, The North West Company has developed management training programs and other initiatives that have seen Aboriginal participation in his company soar to heights never before imagined. North West is now the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people in the country. And don’t think the only jobs they fill are on the shop floor. Far from it. Of the 877 management positions, 200 of them are now filled by Aboriginal people. For a man who believes economic development is the key to Aboriginal self-government, it’s no surprise to learn that Mr. Flett has pioneered 40 partnership alliances and joint ventures with various Aboriginal entities. These have empowered Aboriginal people and helped ensure that communities are well on their way to charting their own futures. In 1992, The North West Company announced its support for Aboriginal self-government during their annual Meeting in Winnipeg, becoming one of the first Canadian companies to do so. Leonard Flett, a proud First Nations member, was there. He still is.