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Jul 21, 2022
The prominent CEO – the only Canadian on the list – was also recently named one of Canada’s Top 20 Dynamic CEOs.
Justin Bourque, the elected vice president and CEO of Willow Lake Métis Nation (WLMN), a resilient Métis community in northern Alberta, has been announced as one of the 10 Most Innovative Business Leaders to Follow in 2022 by CIO Views. He was also featured on its cover.
According to the publication, “Today, countless innovative leaders in the world thrive greatly by changing and impacting the world we live in. The innovations of these creative entrepreneurs leave a huge impact… They truly make a huge difference in the world at large and within their communities.”
The third-generation owner and operator of his family’s trapline, Justin promotes and protects his Métis heritage by day and practises and honours his traditional Métis lifestyle by night. He places a strong emphasis on harvesting skills including fishing, hunting, trapping, and plant gathering, which he believes contributes to not only his success, but his innovation.
“If you want to succeed, you need to be innovative and have your eye on the future while acknowledging the teachings from the past and remembering to remain present today,” says Bourque.
This past November, Justin was named one of Canada’s Top 20 Dynamic CEOs by the CEO Publication. The outlet credited him for being “innovative, communicative, and proactive,” as well as for his leadership and vision.
Last month, the fruits of that innovation sprang to life with the announcement of Sohkastwâwin, which will provide WLMN citizens a permanent home with the purchase of approximately 200 acres of land. Sohkastwâwin, a Cree term for “the act of being resilient,” will feature an eco-bison ranch and local food source, a garden, community culture centre, and Métis housing.
“A tremendous opportunity lies before us,” continues Bourque. “We are excited to collaborate with our industry partners and to push the boundaries of innovation.”
WLMN is taking an innovative approach to reclaiming the land by bringing in bison, a culturally important animal to the Métis, to assist. The Nation also has plans to pursue local power generation, climate resilience design, and net zero emissions with the goal of pioneering at least one new energy source, technology, or other innovation for the benefit of both themselves and of others.
“Our resilience relies on building and maintaining valuable relationships. With the help of our partners, we will change the course of the future,” Justin says. “The best is yet to come for Willow Lake Métis!”
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