Sagehill Community Futures held its 39th Annual General Meeting on Wednesday evening, June 26 at the Humboldt Legion Hall. Members attended for supper, the reports and business meeting, plus guest speaker Jessica Rorison who talked about her experience with the organization.  

Executive Director Susan Wehage welcomed attendees to the proceedings and hinted at the exciting announcements coming later in the evening.  

Chairperson Adam Ritthaler delivered his yearend review, indicating another successful year of funding and programming. He noted that Sagehill’s Lending Program invested $726,605 over the years and leveraged an additional $629,398 into the region.  

adam ritthaler.jpg Sagehill Board Chair Adam Ritthaler

Ritthaler stated that a continued challenge for area business interests was recruitment and retention of employees. To that end, Sagehill hosted the second employer’s conference where guest speakers presented their takes on the best means to attract and keep strong employees. A third such conference is slated for October 2024.  

Another focus was the workshop series, run in conjunction with other Community Futures offices in the province.  

“The Grant Writing Series workshop continues to be the #1 attend workshop due to the fact that community groups rely on grants to operate and any help that they can get in completing grant applications is very welcomed,” said Ritthaler.  

Both Ritthaler and Wehage confirmed that their marketing strategy continues to be aggressive. Wehage talked about the Board initiative that would see Sagehill staff out and about in up to 30 communities in the coming year.  

New board director Trevor King of Rosthern was confirmed at the meeting. King is a managing partner at Prairie Padjett Tax and Accounting Ltd and he operates a business centre that leases space to small enterprises.  

The mike was turned over to guest speaker Jessica Rorison of Rosthern. Jessica has made connections with Sagehill both as an independent contract worker, but also as a beneficiary of some of their programs. 

She spoke of her beginnings in Calgary as a young Métis woman whose family downplayed their Indigenous heritage. It was many years of trial and self-discovery before she finally received her Métis card, an emotional moment, and began to understand the potential supports that were available for Indigenous and Métis people. 

She also spoke at length about the challenges presented because of her diagnosed ADHD. 

“The problem with me is that I couldn’t actually turn my brain off. You know when you have a computer with 15 windows open – that is me all the time. I would just go from one thing to another to another.” 

It led Jessica through some interesting work travails and a fascinating career working in justice and policing, in policy development overseas, and in private enterprise.  The audience was captivated by an amusing story in which she was hired by oil magnate and Dragons’ Den investor Brett Wilson to help clean out a clothes collection and donate the castoffs to charity. She shared that her entrepreneurial bent led her to consign the clothes for sale at a time when she and her family needed money. 

As a contracted worker with Sagehill, Rorison spoke in glowing terms of the connection with the Community Futures office and the supports she received and that she helped others navigate to. It’s led Rorison and her family to create new initiatives like Rosthern’s first ever hot-dog cart, the Weiner Wagon, and the Wildflower Collective, a once-a-month resource gathering for women.  

Her established enterprise is Metis Roots Outsourcing Inc.  

Susan Wehage closed the evening with the promise of big things in the coming year, accompanied by Sagehill Community Futures’ 40th Anniversary celebration.  

susan wehage.jpg Executive Director Susan Wehage