Recognized as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 23, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority / SIGA was selected as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2018):
- In addition to providing retirement planning assistance, SIGA helps employees save for the future through contributions to a defined contribution pension plan, matching contributions to a unique non-registered savings plan for its First Nations' employees, and allows employees to make additional non-matching contributions to their pension plan if they wish
- SIGA encourages ongoing employee development through a variety of in-house training options and provides tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions (to $2,000 annually) -- and reaches out to the next generation through paid internships and summer student roles
- SIGA's employee-led social committee organizes a number of fun employee events every year, including Christmas parties for employees and their children -- the organization also hosts cultural events, summer family day events, general assemblies, monthly health and wellness events and an annual employee appreciation breakfast
SIGA goes all in on opportunity and community
Justina Sather remembers the day the casino came to town. The Saskatchewan Indian gaming Authority (SIGA) was opening Living Sky Casino in Swift Current. Sather went to learn more and eventually walked away with a job. She wasn't the only one: "My whole family was hired. My sister, dad, husband, step-mom -- they all left jobs to come to SIGA."
Over 200 people in the town of 17,000 found employment, echoing the positive economic impact SIGA's venues have had in First Nation communities across the province. Living Sky is the newest of six casinos -- soon to be seven -- that entertain more than 4.5 million guests annually. The non-profits have generated over $1 billion for community groups and provincial beneficiaries, but more than philanthropy, they offer opportunity.
Sather had been a nutrition service worker at the regional health authority. "I was topped out there. I didn't have any opportunity to move ahead," she says. Drawn by generous pay and conditions, she decided to twist and take a job as a casino server. Nine years later, if she has a career limit it's still beyond the horizon. After two promotions she's now Food & Beverage Manager, and gaining further experience as Acting Operations Manager and Acting Marketing Manager.
"We prioritize learning and professional development for our employees," says Shauna Bear, a 17-year veteran who began as an HR officer and is now Vice-President of Human Resources. "We offer on-the-job training and a management program that includes mentoring and coaching."
Around 65 per cent of SIGA's employees, and nine out of 10 executives, are Indigenous. Hiring and employee care are influenced by five guiding principles, based on First Nations culture, that promote accountability, balance, hospitality, belonging and community. That means supporting staff in more than just their work goals.
Wellness is a focus. Fitness subsidies, annual health fairs, immunization clinics, and on-site visits from medical practitioners, naturopaths and massage therapists help ensure employees stay fit and healthy. Comprehensive benefits include health and income replacement benefits, pension and savings plans, and financial education sessions to help staff plan their future.
No wonder employees stay for the long haul. "I'm a lifer! I love it here," says Bear. Some 60 staff have been with SIGA since day one, in 1996.
As Living Sky approaches its 10th anniversary, Sather is one of around 50 that recall the launch. "We've grown up, had kids and celebrated special moments in our lives together," she says. "They're my work family."