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Chief Trevor Makadahay

Leadership, Stewardship and the Long Game: The Decarb Diaries interview with Chief Trevor Makadahay

Traditional Name

Tsááʔ ché ne dane

Traditional Territory

Peace River region, BC & AB


Trevor Makadahay

Wise words with Chief Trevor Makadahay

Kathairos recently had the pleasure of sitting down with our new partner and friend, Chief Trevor Makadahay of Doig River First Nation.

In addition to discussing methane elimination, innovative oil and gas technologies, and the role of Doig River First Nation and its economic arm Úújǫ Developments in it all, we were curious to learn more about Chief Makadahay, his leadership style, and what he really hopes to build for future generations of Tsááʔ ché ne dane People.

We are honoured to bring you our latest instalment of The Decarb Diaries interview series, starring one of the most inspiring people you'll ever meet.

Q. Chief Makadahay, can you share a particular habit or practice you employ that sets you apart from the field, either personally or professionally? 

A. Invest in your people. Investing in their education and giving people the tools – proper tools – is the most important thing, because you're only as good as your people.

Q. Has there been a pivotal moment, person, or learning in your leadership journey that significantly shaped your style or philosophy? 

A. I guess it would have been the moment that I saw industry all around us and realized that we were not participants. That was the biggest thing that shaped what I believe in, which is partnerships and doing it right, together.

I was always somewhat involved in the oil and gas industry, and forestry before that. And I did run a couple of other businesses. But eventually, I noticed that our Nation was saying no a lot, and basically not finding solutions. Instead, we were approaching everything with our backs against the wall and protesting.

The Nation was sitting stagnant and there was nothing happening. Nothing coming into the Nation in terms of work, environment, or otherwise. And I thought, there's something wrong here.

Q. As a longtime leader of your Community and elected Chief of Doig River First Nation, do you have a particular strategy or practice for dealing with the inevitable challenges that arise?

A. What do I do? I think about Kema. Kema for us is a place in nature, it's where you ground yourself like a form of Zen, and where you find your answer. It's different for everybody. I have Kema, but maybe you've got a place on the top of a hill where you just feel at peace. That's what I do. We teach it in our Community and take people through Kema Experiences in our Nation, too.

Q. If you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say? 

A. It would say 'leave a legacy for your children's children,' which is what we’ve been doing.

Q. What level of importance do you put on your professional network, and what is one of the most worthwhile things you've done to grow it? 

A. It’s relationships. It's getting out there and having information available for people to connect to and connect with you – even just on LinkedIn, for example. Relationships have always been important to me, and building those relationships is the foundation for everything.

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Q. How has failure perhaps played a role in setting you up for later success in your career or life? 

A. In 2012, I had one of my main businesses go under, and it was because of a lack of support in the industry. There wasn't enough inclusion for the Indigenous side of it, and the only thing that was there was the token piece.

So, after the token piece was over, I built something. But when the times slowed down, so did the opportunities. I was the first to go, and the old boys club just kept their buddies busy.

That taught me a pretty big lesson about having longevity and thinking about the future and your path through it. There's going to be a lot of peaks and valleys and you’ve got to be able to wade them, because it's the end game and the long game that matter. That is the biggest thing that failure has taught me.

Q. If you could dispel one myth about what it takes to lead, what would it be? 

A. I think it's humility. Being humble is how I try to approach things, but there's a lot of people for who it’s all about them. They’re forgetting who helped get them there and what really matters at the end of the day. Being pompous doesn't get you anywhere. It's not about you, it’s about the task at hand – whatever the task may be. 

Q. When you look back one day, what do you want to be most remembered for? 

A. The opportunities that I helped create a path toward – everything from business to family to social. Being a part of the solution is really the thing I want to be remembered for.

Learn more about Chief Makadahay and Kathairos Solutions and Doig River First Nation's strategic environmental initiative to reduce methane emissions here.

About Doig River First Nation

Doig River First Nation, known traditionally as Tsááʔ ché ne dane, are descendants of the Dane-zaa peoples, who have lived in harmony with the Peace River region for millennia. With a rich history and a profound connection to their land, DRFN is dedicated to protecting the environment and fostering sustainable practices. Learn more at

About Úújǫ Developments LP

Úújǫ Developments Limited Partnership is the economic arm of DRFN, focused on creating economic benefits in balance with the Nation’s traditional practices, culture, and commitment to environmental stewardship. Úújǫ stands as a testament to Indigenous entrepreneurship and the power of aligning economic activities with cultural and environmental values. Learn more at

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