On Ken Braget’s 10th birthday, his mom explained that the man he’d always known as his father was his adopted father. His biological father was Indigenous, but Braget learned little else. Decades later, Braget connected with his biological father, which inspired him to also connect with his Indigenous culture.
One day, as he was driving through a northern Indigenous community, he noticed many derelict buildings and a half-built recreation centre. “I’m thinking society pushed our Indigenous people into isolated communities and just left them there. There’s zero infrastructure, prosperity, not even groceries,” says Braget.
It was a turning point. He not only wanted to reconnect with his own heritage, he wanted to make a difference for Indigenous people in general. After four years as an Edmonton police officer — where he garnered a humanitarian of the year award — Braget was now operating a valve company. He sold his share in that company and started True North, which has a 40 per cent Indigenous employment mandate.
He helped set up a factory for ball valves in Alexander First Nation as a way of creating more jobs, with hopes to continue adding facilities to other communities in the future. He also started a “Learn While You Earn” program, which allows Indigenous employees to earn high school diplomas while working part time.
“I’ve worked hard and I’ve almost become obsessed with making a difference,” says Braget.