Five mechanics and an auto wrecker are joining forces in an effort to achieve what they couldn't do alone.
Fox Munroe is one of six men from the Muskoday First Nation starting the First Nations Repair Workers Cooperative.
"I applied for a $5,000 grant from the Federal Cooperative Association to do a feasibility study," Munroe told CBC Radio's the Morning Edition. "Once the feasibility study was completed to show that it was a go, from that point we banded together seven guys — but one left — and from there we applied for another grant to get the business plan done."
Munroe said the business plan is almost done and they're just about ready to get it started.
"We're bringing existing businesses together. I mean, they have some guys who fix cars out in the backyards for a living," he said. "All we're doing is bringing everything together."
Several of the people involved tried starting businesses on their own in the past but couldn't get them off the ground. While the idea for a co-op has helped them get very close to their goal, Munroe said there was a bit of a learning curve for those involved.
"It's pretty well self-taught. You have to go online and see what the co-op is all about," he said. "We have overcome many obstacles so far just to get even to this stage. To get these six guys agreeing to work as a co-op was a big thing."
Munroe said they'll be repairing vehicles, providing auto wrecking, and also buying and selling vehicles.
Muskoday is about 15 kilometres south of Prince Albert. Only about 800 people live on reserve, so Munroe and his colleagues are hoping to draw business from the surrounding area.
"We're counting on business from P.A. to come out to here," he said. "We did a survey and all the other garages around that area had closed down the past couple of years. We'll be the only service garage from here to Melfort to P.A."
He said the other businesses in the area were closing because of more high-tech vehicles and the high cost of labour.
"This hasn't been done on this reserve before," Munroe said, noting there is a mix of excitement and mystery for this proposal.
"They're excited about having auto repair on the reserve. But they don't know anything about the co-op, so they're kind of hesitant."
While the group still needs to be approved by the band, Munroe hopes to start pouring concrete on the new business in a few weeks.
"I think this will be an example for Canada, I guess, for a First Nations co-op," he said. "In my mind, it's a go-go. It's win-win."