Terry Mitchell’s enthusiasm for what he does is evident, even across a video conference call from his office in Calgary. Since 2016, Mitchell has served as the Canadian director of Indigenous Relations for Graham Group, a full service construction company operating across North America.

Terry Mitchell and his team members are responsible for building bridges - figuratively speaking - by supporting and nurturing mutually beneficial opportunities for partnerships involving Graham with Indigenous businesses and organizations across the country. What is both interesting and challenging, he says, is connecting non-Indigenous to Indigenous groups and seeing the results unfold based on what he identifies as the four pillars of success: education, economic development, employment and training, and revenue generation.

“I don’t have a job, I have a passion for what I do, and for me it is a lifestyle,” Mitchell states. It is also a professional and personal balancing act.

He believes the parties on each side of the bridge can meet their goals, if relationships are nurtured and partnerships or alliances are done right. “It always comes down to being people-centric,” Mitchell says. “People who see things in transactional terms often create barriers that need to be broken down, where people who are transformational in their thinking place more emphasis on community and the emotional side.”

It is for him a daily mind-bending challenge to balance those goals and be effective, Mitchell says, so he strives to find a life balance through physical exercise (he describes himself as a gym rat), nature photography, smudging and healing practices like corporate sweats, aka: steams. He also relies heavily on the support of his wife of 36 years, Kimberly, also a U of R graduate, who he refers to as, “his lighthouse.”

Terry Mitchell’s BAdmin'88, the Canadian director of Indigenous Relations for Graham Group.
Terry Mitchell’s BAdmin'88, the Canadian director of Indigenous Relations for Graham Group.

Gary Bosgoed, another U of R graduate and a former member of the University Board of Governors, has known Mitchell since they were kids. He describes Mitchell as always positive, funny, and with a high level of emotional intelligence. Bosgoed, who operates an engineering company in Edmonton which gives him a bird’s-eye view of the construction industry, observes that some attempts at economic reconciliation have failed where companies have pushed partnerships with Indigenous businesses with the primary goal of gaining market share.

“On the other hand,” Bosgoed says, “Terry, and Graham, are willing to stay the course, even if it takes a decade or more to create a relationship that works for both parties.”

Gary Bosgoed, Vice Chair of the University of Regina's Board of Governors.
Gary Bosgoed, Vice Chair of the University of Regina's Board of Governors.

Graham had a successful track record before Mitchell joined the company in 2016, including a partnership with several First Nations in northern Saskatchewan that created Points Athabasca Contracting in 1999, where Graham began as a part-owner and then by mutual agreement stepped away as the new company flourished.

A similar partnership with the File Hills-Qu’Appelle Tribal Council formed Great Plains Contracting in 2011 to pursue opportunities in the southern part of the province. Mitchell was part of the team that in 2017 established a separate brand - Graham Three Nations, which includes three traditional symbols - a Feather, the Métis infinity symbol and the Inuit Inukshuk on its logo - signalling its  broad approach to engaging with Indigenous businesses and organizations.

 

It has expanded its network of contacts through memberships in the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and the Aboriginal Procurement Program. The CCAB, Mitchell says, supported his entry into the process of developing Indigenous programs, and showed him how to operate at a national level with all Indigenous groups.

He was born in Moose Jaw, raised mainly in Regina, but home base for Mitchell’s parents and his family is Heart Lake First Nation, a community of about 400, three hours north of Edmonton.

Since 2017, he notes, Graham Three Nations has developed alliances with Indigenous business that have generated millions of dollars in supply chain contracting opportunities.

“Supply chain management is the heartbeat of a business,” he explains. “Once a company has embraced awarding contracts to Indigenous businesses, not only are they generating upcoming revenue, but those businesses are now in the databases used to identify suppliers for future opportunities across Canada.”

Making progress to this point has not been easy, Mitchell cautions. Sometimes it takes years to develop relationships with the necessary level of trust to form fruitful partnerships. For him personally, the stops along the way leading to his present position - his career path - do not resemble anything like a straight line.

He was born in Moose Jaw, raised mainly in Regina, but home base for Mitchell’s parents and his family is Heart Lake First Nation, a community of about 400, three hours north of Edmonton.

 

“Heart Lake is a beautiful place by the lake, with people who work hard to make a difference,” says Mitchell. He attended Catholic elementary schools in Regina’s Broder’s Annex neighbourhood, an experience he sums up as “really hard”. There were some bright spots. He recalls how in Grade 7 his teacher, Richard Turchenek (a 2006 Alumni Crowning Achievement Award recipient) encouraged “that shy kid at the back of the room” to run for class president. “I won, which was a huge boost to my self-esteem.” 

Mitchell also discovered that playing hockey on an outdoor rink near his home was a safe haven where he could be himself. Hockey also gave him further insights: during a tournament at what is now the Brandt Centre Mitchell observed that other players in the dressing room were doing things he was not aware of because they had more education, opening up opportunities for the future. He decided he wanted what an education could offer, which coincided with what his parents were consistently telling him.

Mitchell and his mom, Mary Mitchell.
Mitchell and his mom, Mary Mitchell.

“My Dad, Robert, was a very down-to-earth, hard-working truck driver all his life,” Mitchell says. “He had minimal education, but recognized it was important for me to obtain one. My Mom, Mary, constantly pushed me. When she decided at age 65 to study for her Teacher’s Aide certificate my dad collected bottles from the side of the road to help cover her expenses.”

Mitchell’s father has passed away, but his mother, at age 86, still teaches Cree to Heart Lake First Nation youth, and serves on the Elders Committee.

“My parents were, and still are, wonderful role models,” he says, “and Mom to this day is an inspiration for anyone who meets her.”

Mitchell received a welcome financial boost in the form of the Dr. John Archer Scholarship from the U of R Alumni Association – his first real experience of being rewarded for education.

After Mitchell graduated from Miller High School he decided he’d had enough of school, first working at a furrier boutique in downtown Regina and then at Mappins, a high-fashion jewelry store. He liked the work – being surrounded by professionals who helped develop his business skills and brought out the best in him.

Mitchell may have thought he was finished with formal schooling, but as he moved up to assistant manager at the jewelry store, Larry Hein, an instructor on the University of Regina’s College Avenue Campus, encouraged him to take evening classes.

Mitchell and his daughter  Mackenzi, a young Indigenous leader on the rise in Calgary’s corporate sector.
Mitchell and his daughter Mackenzi, a young Indigenous leader on the rise in Calgary’s corporate sector.

Mitchell received a welcome financial boost in the form of the Dr. John Archer Scholarship from the U of R Alumni Association – his first real experience of being rewarded for education. His choice of courses was at first “all over the map” as he puts it, until business emerged as the area that most interested him.

Over the next 12 years he took courses - sometimes two in a semester while working full-time - in Regina and then in Calgary when his employer transferred him there in 1988. He accumulated enough credit hours to earn the Certified in Management (CIM) designation offered by the Canadian Institute of Management, as well as certificates in Education and Administration and a diploma in Business. Mitchell says the Certified in Management program was the best he ever took, as it built his confidence and self-awareness.

 

 

The strong connection continues: he was named a Fellow by the CIM for his 40 years of service at the national level, including serving as the Institute’s National Executive Vice-Chair and Chair of the Indigenous Relations Group, and in 2021 was awarded a National Lifetime Achievement Award by CIM.

Mitchell is buoyed by what he saw and heard as one of Canada’s representatives to the 2021 World Indigenous Business Forum, a virtual gathering that brought together people from more than 90 countries to discuss and explore business opportunities.

From that experience he sees the potential for Indigenous people everywhere to play a greater role in the mainstream economy. “I see real movement. I see that Indigenous youth have embraced who they are, and they recognize the opportunities that are there to use technology, and to combine that with Indigenous values” says Mitchell.

“The upcoming generation of Indigenous youth has no boundaries to hold them back,” he continues, “and no stigmas to stop them. They have more mentors to guide them, and business technology tools to help them succeed at a rapid pace, including at the global level.”

“In my time, the social stigma of being Indigenous was not cool, but my children have embraced their culture, and they and the next generation are progressive in their thinking.” His daughter Mackenzi is a young Indigenous leader on the rise in Calgary’s corporate sector who also raises ducks, goats and other animals on a small farm near the city after hours.

“Mac is the real meal deal as a corporate-to-country person,” says the proud father. His son Mason played NCAA hockey in Alaska, signed a contract with the NHL Washington Capitals and now plays professionally in the Elite League in the UK.

“The upcoming generation of Indigenous youth has no boundaries to hold them back,” he continues, “and no stigmas to stop them. They have more mentors to guide them, and business technology tools to help them succeed at a rapid pace, including at the global level.”

About the Author

Bill Armstrong is a Regina freelance writer and amateur photographer with a strong interest in Saskatchewan history.

WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6559 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2022-11-04 11:43:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-11-04 17:43:18 [post_content] =>

As a community organizer and volunteer, Ann Bishop is an embodiment of civic-mindedness. Some of the many organizations she has lent her time and expertise to include the Regent Park Community Association, Regina Humane Society, and Habitat for Humanity.

Since 2008 she has been instrumental in organizing the University of Regina's Seniors' University Group's Big Book Sale fundraiser, chairing the organizing committee from 2012 to 2020. Proceeds from the Big Book Sale allow the Seniors' University Group to offer reduced fees for courses, and bursaries for courses at the U of R's Lifelong Learning Centre.

Ann also contributed greatly to the campus community in her various roles on staff at the University of Regina from 1975 to 2018, volunteering for boards and committees throughout her career. It was during her time as an employee at the U of R that

Ann completed a Certificate of Administration in 1989 and a Bachelor of Arts in 1996. Through her work with U of R research units over the years, she has served as a strong advocate for social justice, addressing inequities in health care, and intimate partner violence in our community.

[post_title] => Ann Bishop BA’96 - 2022 Dr. Robert and Norma Ferguson Outstanding Service Award [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => ann-bishop-ba96 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-29 08:54:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-29 14:54:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.degreesmagazine.ca/?p=6559 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6646 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2022-11-10 14:05:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-11-10 20:05:22 [post_content] =>

Pierre Lemire BSc'87, chief executive officer of Kent Imaging in Calgary, credits much of his success to the work ethic he learned on his parents' farm in Val Marie, Saskatchewan. "You worked at a young age. You were picking rocks on the farm, throwing bales, driving the tractor at 12 years old-everything you had to do to help your dad on the farm," he recollects. As a result, he says, "I'm not scared to work. I've carried that through to everything I've done, working hard at school, and trying to excel at all the jobs I've had."

So, how did he get to Cowtown from the prairie dog capital of Canada? It all started at the University of Regina.

Lemire was good with numbers, so he thought accounting would be a fit. As part of his business administration degree, he needed to take some general courses, so he enrolled in Computer Science 102 and learned basic programming. "I really enjoyed it. It was creative but still very logical, which is the way my brain works." When he took Computer Science 200, he learned Pascal and became fascinated with programming languages. It wasn't long before he transferred to the Faculty of Science to be a computer science honours major.

The University of Regina had a small computer lab with UNIX computers. (Readers of a certain vintage will remember their trademark black screens and green text.) "It was an interesting time for computing when I was there. PCs were just starting to come out, and there was a transition from large mainframe computing to microcomputing. I got into programming on microcomputers and laptops," Lemire recalls.

Pierre Lemire BSC'87, chief executive officer of Kent Imaging in Calgary. Pierre Lemire BSC'87, chief executive officer of Kent Imaging in Calgary.

After his third year, he got a summer job developing software for Fred Curtis, an engineering professor at the U of R. This experience set Lemire down a career path of developing software and giving it a commercial use. After working for Curtis for a year, Lemire joined the company Software Support, later renamed Kanotech. He built new applications for the AutoCAD drafting software platform but was continuously rewriting them when there were platform changes. His friend, Mike Columbo, who also worked at Software Support, asked him, "Why don't you just go work for Autodesk [the company that makes AutoCAD] and be the guy who writes the software instead of updating it all the time?" That seemed out of reach for Lemire, but Columbo was determined. "Mike made a few calls for me at Autodesk and got me a job," laughs Lemire. He moved to San Francisco and worked at Autodesk for the next nine years.

Lemire and his family were interested in moving back to Canada, so Autodesk transferred him to Calgary to run a company they had acquired there. He left Autodesk in 2004 to co-found a medical startup with Dr. Chen Fong, Calgary Scientific, where Lemire served as president and chief technology officer for more than 11 years. In that time the company became an international leader in medical imaging, with clearances for their products in major markets around the world. After becoming an expert on building medical applications, Lemire was ready to take the next step in his career. He took the helm at Kent Imaging, another medical imaging company, in 2015.

Kent Imaging is known throughout North America for manufacturing a medical device that measures oxygen in tissues using infrared light. This technology helps doctors determine why a wound isn't healing properly. "If there is not enough oxygen in the wound, it will not heal," says Lemire. "It's like an X-Ray letting a physician know if an arm is broken. We're providing them with an imaging solution that gives them better judgement on treatment."

The feedback on the device, from both doctors and patients, has been phenomenal. "We have tons of stories of how it's prevented amputations," Lemire says. Patients may feel frustrated that their wound doesn't seem to be healing, but with Kent Imaging's device, doctors can show patients even the most minute progress. "When a patient understands what's happening with their wound, it's motivating. They're more engaged and compliant with treatment protocols." The technology is especially pertinent for diabetic patients, whose wounds don't heal naturally.

The Kent Imaging team is currently working on getting clearance for the device in Australia, and they will be rolling it out into other parts of the world in the next few years.

Kent Imaging, the company Lemire helps oversee, is known throughout North America for manufacturing a medical device that measures oxygen in tissues using infrared light. This technology helps doctors determine why a wound isn't healing properly. Kent Imaging, the company Lemire helps oversee, is known throughout North America for manufacturing a medical device that measures oxygen in tissues using infrared light. This technology helps doctors determine why a wound isn't healing properly.

Looking back on his career, Lemire is most proud of how the companies he's worked with have enhanced the way people work. "We've improved the ability for clinicians and health care providers to provide greater care. When a patient has an acute stroke, we are able to provide faster access to imaging so decisions can be made faster. It's lifesaving," he says. "As a result of what we're doing at Kent Imaging, physicians are adapting the way they treat wounds. We're changing people's lives."

In his role with Kent Imaging, Lemire has connected with some of the largest medical companies in the world, such as GE, Toshiba, Siemens and Fuji. In his role with Kent Imaging, Lemire has connected with some of the largest medical companies in the world, such as GE, Toshiba, Siemens and Fuji.

In his two most recent roles, Lemire has connected with some of the largest medical companies in the world, such as GE, Toshiba, Siemens and Fuji. This means he has had the opportunity to travel internationally for work, including to Japan, China, Korea and Australia. He and his family also enjoy travelling in their spare time. His favourite region to visit is Europe, because of its long history. "When you're in Italy, you know the Romans were there 2,000 years ago. It's mind boggling for Canadians whose history is so young," he remarks. He also finds Asia fascinating: "I appreciate the respect in Japanese culture. When you walk into a building, a greeter bows to you. You just don't get used to it." He continues, "The size of China and the number of people there is impressive. When you're in China, you know you're not alone."

While this is the first time Lemire has served as a CEO, he has been building toward the role his entire career. He has learned the ropes at both small companies and large ones-"The first company I worked at had six people. The next had 2,000," he says. "There was really good management training at Autodesk. I've applied the lesson that you make better decisions when you involve other people and ensure that everyone feels like they're part of the decisions. Even if they don't agree, at least they had a say. It sounds easy as a concept, but to put it into practice is really hard. Combining different experiences, objectives and goals together in a cohesive team is a big challenge, but I think we're doing a decent job of it."

Lemire played for the University of Regina Cougars hockey team throughout university. He continues to play the sport today (non-contact) and coaches his 16-year-old son's hockey team. Lemire is the player on the far right. Lemire played for the University of Regina Cougars hockey team throughout university. He continues to play the sport today (non-contact) and coaches his 16-year-old son's hockey team. Lemire is the player on the far right.

Lemire also learned leadership skills playing hockey as a youth, which continue to serve him today. He attended Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan for high school. Their motto is "luctor et emergo" or "struggle and emerge", a message Lemire took to heart. "You had to take care of yourself at Notre Dame. You were one of 350 boys and 30 girls-no one was going to take care of you. You had to carry your own," he explains.

In the dormitories, the students did all the work, such as cleaning the dorms and the kitchen. First-year students were called "new boys" and did the chores, while upper-level students, "old boys", were responsible for organizing and supervising the others. In his final year, Lemire was a house leader: "We learned about leadership, organizing and taking on responsibility." Lemire went on to play for the University of Regina Cougars hockey team throughout university. He continues to play the sport today (non-contact) and coaches his 16-year-old son's hockey team.

In addition to playing hockey and other sports, Lemire likes to spend his downtime camping, watching sports and dancing. His venue of choice for two-stepping is Ranchman's Cookhouse & Dancehall in Calgary. "When I was a kid, I had a big family-my mom and dad each had 12 brothers and sisters. When we got together for a family reunion, there was always dancing. I developed a love of dancing at a young age, and I still love it," he says.

Finding work/life balance while working for a startup trying to break into new markets is a challenge. Fortunately, technology has allowed Lemire to work from anywhere, balancing work and family obligations. Sometimes he works from home, which saves him an hour-and-a-half commute, time that he can spend with his family. "If you have a computer and an internet connection, you're working. When we're camping, I get up early and work, and then when everyone else is awake, I transition to being dad," he explains, going on to say, "I could be working on a Saturday or Sunday morning and then do something with the kids on a Monday afternoon, because I've put the time in."

Technology has afforded Lemire the luxury of a enviable work and family balance.  Sometimes he works from home, which saves him an hour-and-a-half commute, time that he can spend with his family. Lemire is pictured here with (left to right) daughters Jemma, Jordyn, and Isla, wife Alisha, daughter Jayna and son Luc. Technology has afforded Lemire the luxury of a enviable work and family balance. Sometimes he works from home, which saves him an hour-and-a-half commute, time that he can spend with his family. Lemire is pictured here with (left to right) daughters Jemma, Jordyn, and Isla, wife Alisha, daughter Jayna and son Luc.

While Lemire believes technology makes our lives better by improving communication, he also hopes that it will slow down a little bit. "The technological response to COVID has created a society where we don't need to be together-we can do that electronically. We need to get back to that personal connection. We lead more valuable lives that way," he observes.

[post_title] => From the prairie dog capital to Cowtown [post_excerpt] => Pierre Lemire BSC'87 [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => from-the-prairie-dog-capital-to-cowtown [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-29 08:52:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-29 14:52:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.degreesmagazine.ca/?p=6646 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )