By NC Raine

tires-1There’s a new tire dealer in town, situated smartly in the city that has more cars than people [around 8,000 more]. Considering safe investments, this one might top the list.

And it brings a benefit to the community. Market Tire has opened a new location on the Muskeg Lake Urban Reserve in Saskatoon, joining CreeWay Gas Ltd, Dakota Dunes Golf Links LP, Jackpine Holdings Ltd, among others, in the Muskeg Lake business development family.

This particular Market Tire, owned by Sheldon Wuttunee, and brothers Brent and Greg Hoiness, is the first First Nations owned and operated tire shop in Saskatoon.

“[The brothers and I] had been talking about opening a business for a while. We thought it would be a good idea to open the tire store on a reserve to capture the First Nation market,” says Wuttunee. “It felt like a good opportunity to build a strong partnership based on a strong brand that had already been established in Saskatoon.”

Market Tire has been operating in Saskatoon for 40 years. Wuttunee says his new location will service more than just consumer tires, but will have the capacity to serve industrial needs such as school buses, agricultural equipment, and industrial equipment. The business also offers oil changes and servicing batteries, and will branch out moving into full automotive service in the coming years.

But a week in, the new location is concentrating right now on a good start.

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“It’s been a great adventure so far,” says Wuttunee. “It’s something new and much needed not only in Saskatoon, but throughout the province. Of course we aim to serve the general public, but to be able to provide our First Nation people with some incentive to purchase through Market Tire on a reserve is certainly a bonus.”

Wuttunee is certainly an unlikely candidate to enter the automotive trade. A former teacher and principal, and former Chief at Red Pheasant First Nation, Wuttunee is now President/CEO of the Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resource Centre of Excellence, an entity of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations [FSIN].

The position serves to assist and support bands throughout the province with natural resource development initiatives. Due to the Husky oil spill into the North Saskatchewan river, Wuttunee has been consumed handling the crisis there, he says, ensuring the bands are being properly consulted with the cleanup.

It all begs the question, how does he have time for starting a new business?

“Well, I’m a firm believer in building our own economy as First Nations; to be able to build capacity on our own front and ensure employment opportunities for our people.  Participating in the economic landscape of the province is very important,” he says.

For Wuttunee, making a difference in both the community and province at large makes any venture, even a simple tire shop, a decidedly worthwhile venture.

“There’s real importance in building partnerships with the province. We’re looking to not only increase education, but the confidence into investing time, energy, and dollars on the [Muskeg Lake] reserve. We’re looking for opportunities to become part of the economic fabric of the province and this Market Tire partnership, we feel, is going to contribute greatly to the province of Saskatchewan.”

Market Tire is celebrating their 40th Anniversary with a free customer appreciation barbecue on Friday September 16, from 10am to 2pm, at 200-401 Packham Place. 

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