On May 8th, Sqéwqel Development Corporation and the Seabird Island Band celebrated the grand opening of the Sqéwqel Gas Bar. Sqéwqel Development Corporation, Band staff, officials, and dignitaries, along with dozens of interested guests came out to see the new Gas Bar which features an Esso gas station, convenience store, as well as Mr. Sub and Country Style franchises.
Located just behind the old Gas Bar at 3971 Chowat Road, the new facility took just under a year to build with the ground-breaking ceremony having taken place in September. The new Gas Bar was completed around its budget of $2,050,000.00 and has already employed 20-25 individuals.
Chief Clem Seymour thanked the crowd and dignitaries for attending the historic event. Drummers and singers opened the ceremony with a traditional welcome song.
“Thank you to Chief and Council for being very good advocates for the Development Corporation,” said Brian Titus, CEO of the Sqéwqel Development Corporation. The Development Corporation was created by the Seabird Island Band to separate business from the non-profit and government work the Band does. Brian also gave thanks to the Development Corporation’s Board of Directors for their hard work, and the management team of Sqéwqel Gas Bar, Rose Charles and Rene Kelly, for preparing the store for the grand opening.
“It really turned out great, even better than expected,” said Paul Andrew, President of the Development Corporation’s Board of Directors. “It means so much to us to have a place where our families can have employment, it makes us so proud”. He also thanked the Cultural Committee for their work to make the traditional ceremony happen.
Brian Titus honoured several individuals for their part in the new Gas Bar: Chuck McNeil, Seabird Island Band’s Chief Administrative Officer; Donna St. Louis of Tale’awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation; Brian Winters of Esso; Travis Coker of Petro Max; and Mark Point.
As drummers and singers performed an honour song, Chuck McNeil and Paul Andrew unveiled two ceremonial house posts by untying the cedar ribbon which bound their coverings in place. The act of untying the ribbon signified ribbon cutting and the opening of the new Gas Bar. The ceremonial house posts, which were placed on either side of the entrance doors at the new Gas Bar, were designed and carved by Mark Point.
Esso and McDougal Energy representative, Brian Winters spoke about the incredible journey the project was. “I am so impressed with the facility that I have recommended this become a training ground for Esso, Country Style and Mr. Sub. Our number one objective is to provide quality services so much more.” Donna St. Louis shared Brian’s congratulations on the Development Corporation’s hard work. “I remember when we started working on this project with Brian Jones in 2013. This will have a positive impact on the community.”
Brian Titus closed the ceremony with a final thank you and announced that the new Gas Bar would also be meeting status discounts granted from nearby Squiala Gas Bar. The announcement was met with a loud cheer from the crowd. Status discounts will be automatically done at the pump after presenting a status card to employees inside the Gas Bar.]