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We are leaders

in economic development.

We’ve got the right people with the right attitude, and we’re leading this movement to ensure northern Manitoba realizes its economic potential.

About the Look North Initiative

Look North is a movement for northerners, by northerners to grow the economy in northern Manitoba. It is a long-term vision and plan to unleash the economic potential of the North for generations to come.

The Look North initiative was set in motion by the Province of Manitoba in 2016, and is deeply rooted in the principle that the people of the North best understand their needs. Through extensive and ongoing engagement with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, businesses, industry and labour leaders, a vision of growth and prosperity for northern Manitoba that is inclusive of all perspectives has been developed.

Learn more about the Look North Story.

Leading the North forward

The Look North initiative is led by Communities Economic Development Fund (CEDF), a Manitoba Crown Corporation that has operated in northern Manitoba since 1973. In March of 2019, CEDF was named by the Province as the organization best suited to carry out the Look North initiative because of its long-standing relationship to northern Manitoba and its peoples. CEDF has the depth of knowledge required and the right people to transform northern economies.


Communities Economic Development Fund is managed by a Board of Directors reporting to the Hon. Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training. Each Board member brings a unique northern perspective and expertise in economic development from across a variety of sectors.

Board of Directors

James (Jamie) Wilson – Opaskwayak Cree Nation

Appointed Chairperson of the Board.

Wilson is Vice-President of Corporate Development for the Arctic Gateway Group and former Deputy Minister of Manitoba Education and Training and Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade. Wilson previously served as Treaty Commissioner at the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, Director of Education at the Opaskwayak Educational Authority, as an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and a U.S. Army Ranger.

Chuck Davidson – Winnipeg

Appointed Member of the Board.

Davidson is the President and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC). Prior to joining the MCC, he spent close to a decade at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce as the Vice-President of Policy and Communications. Davidson served as Co-Chair of the Look North Task Force, and was born and raised in the northern community of Snow Lake.

Becky Cianflone – Flin Flon

Appointed Member of the Board.

Cianflone is the Executive Director of Community Futures Greenstone. Cianflone previously worked as a Business Analyst for Community Futures Triple R and Chamber Manager for the Altona and District Chamber of Commerce. She studied business administration at Red River College and her board experience includes the Northern Manitoba Tourism Advisory Committee, UCN Governing Council and the Flin Flon Women’s Resource Centre.

Doug Lauvstad – The Pas

Appointed Member of the Board.

Lauvstad is the President and Chancellor of the University College of the North. Lauvstad previously served as Executive Director for the Northern Manitoba Sector Council, an association of the mining, forestry and energy sectors of Manitoba focused on workforce development. He has served on numerous other boards and committees including as Chair of the Northern Regional Health Authority Board of Directors.

Colleen Smook – Thompson

Appointed Member of the Board.

Smook is the Mayor of the City of Thompson. She has worked in the construction industry, is owner of McCreedy Campground and has served on numerous boards in the community.

Communities Economic Development Fund

Oswald Sawh, CEO and Manager of the Look North Initiative

Oswald Sawh has been the CEO for the Communities Economic Development Fund (CEDF) since 2013. He has been with CEDF since 1998 in different capacities including CFO, Manager of Community Based Programs, TEAM Coordinator and Business Loans Consultant. Oswald has served in a leadership positions on various boards including the Thompson Chamber of Commerce, MAPS, Thompson Humane Society, Royal Canadian Legion, Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation, and the Ma-Mow-We-Take Friendship Center. Oswald was also a former Councillor and Deputy Mayor for the City of Thompson. Oswald has a MBA, CPA designation, Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) degree, EDAC Economic Developer’s Certificate, Manitoba Municipal Administrator’s Certificate, and an Aboriginal Economic Developer’s Certificate from CANDO.

Chris Thevenot, CFO and Manager of Developmental Loans

Raised in Thompson, Manitoba, Chris is the sixth of seven kids who grew up taking advantage of all the North has to offer; fishing, camping, and boating in the summer with hockey and skiing in the winter. He went away for his post-secondary education but has spent the majority of his adult life in Thompson with his wife raising their two daughters. Chris has been with CEDF since 2012 and has over 15 years of experience in the field of finance, previously working with major financial institutions.  He started with CEDF as a business loans consultant before moving to his current role as CFO and Manager of Developmental Loans.  Since entering the industry, he has found working in the field of economic development rewarding, seeing the impact it can leave on a community and an individual.

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