2012 Conference Presenters

The contribution made by speakers is an integral part of the National Annual Conference & AGM hosted by The Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando). In particular, the participation of speakers from multi-faceted areas of Aboriginal community economic development across Canada is a key reason for the ongoing success of the conference.

Please review our presenters and their presentation topics below. Presentations are listed in alphabetical order by presentation title. Find the presenter bios directly below their presentation description..

"Aboriginal Land & Economic Development Priorities”
Hugues Landriault, Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada

This plenary will focus on the Community Opportunities Branch’s land management and economic development priorities. It will explore current targeted investments and initiatives such as the land use planning pilot project, the joint economic development planning pilot, the First Nations Land Management regime and other initiatives that the Community Opportunities Branch is undertaking to support First Nation communities in building the right foundation to unlock their economic potential.

Hugues Landriault is the Acting Manager of the Community Economic Development Programs within the Community Opportunities Branch of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Ottawa (2000) and has close to 12 years of experience working within AANDC, principally with Community Economic Development and Specific Claims negotiations.

"Aboriginal Opportunities and Advancements in the Mineral Sector”
Lesley Williams, Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada

The mineral exploration and mining sector is a cornerstone of the Canadian economy. Given the importance of the sector and the geographic location of most mineral exploration and mining projects, the industry offers many excellent economic opportunities and benefits for Aboriginal communities. It offers the potential for business development, partnerships, jobs training, education and sustainable economic and community development. This presentation will outline the efforts and initiatives of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) in promoting greater participation by Aboriginal people in the mineral industry, discuss opportunities, and will highlight examples of success in Aboriginal business development in the sector and agreements between companies and communities.

Lesley Williams is the Program Manager for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), involved in program areas of Aboriginal Affairs, Corporate Social Responsibility, Geoscience, and Lands & Regulations. She is also a board member of the Boreal Prospectors Association. Lesley has a Master’s Degree in Communications and Culture, specializing in politics and policy and an undergraduate degree in English and Communications.

"Asset-based Resource Development – Building with What We Have”
Stephen Rotman, Rubin & Rotman Associates

The goal of this workshop will be to present a holistic community-based approach to resource development and capacity building. This is in contrast to the traditional path for economic development based on a community’s problems and deficiencies, with the resulting dependence on outside institutions. The alternate approach is a celebration of the positive assets, skills and capacities of local residents. In particular, I will discuss through various practical examples, how to turn existing physical capabilities into community assets, such as using waste as a resource and developing communal alternate energy sources. The goal of the workshop is to show how these types of community resource management projects can successfully bring clear and sustainable economic benefits through local control and development.

Stephen Rotman is a founding partner of Rubin & Rotman Architects. In a span of three decades, he has worked on a variety of institutional projects such as schools, museums, community centres, fire stations, etc. in Aboriginal communities in Quebec and Ontario. Mr. Rotman works collaboratively with clients to achieve distinctive solutions to local issues.

"Assertion of Aboriginal Rights for Economic Benefit: Maximize Your Participation in Projects in Your Traditional Territories”, Cliff Fregin & Chanze Gamble, New Relationship Trust

As a quick backgrounder to the proposed presentation, New Relationship Trust (NRT) commissioned 5 best practice reports in 2006, which are available on the NRT website as shown below:

  • Land Use Planning
  • Governance
  • Consultation and Accommodation
  • Comprehensive Community Planning – Long Version
  • Comprehensive Community Planning – Short Version
  • Environmental Assessments

To follow up on the 5 reports, NRT realized that it was important to discuss the best practices in a practical manner, and that it would be helpful if we showcased the processes and steps that First Nations have taken to arrive at the best practice level. In the past year, NRT worked with consultants to conduct research on how to make the best practices more applicable at the community level. As part of our research with First Nations communities, we noted that 3 of the best practice reports worked closely together: Land Use Planning, Governance, and Consultation and Accommodation. Out of the primary research with communities and secondary research of existing reports evolved a two-day workshop that shows how First Nations communities have interwoven those three topics together in order to maximize their participation in the development projects in their traditional territories. We would be honoured to provide a condensed version of our two-day workshop into a 1 hour presentation at CANDO, and to allow for 30 minutes question and answers after the presentation.

Cliff Fregin was born and raised in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and is Haida from Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, BC. For past 25+ years Cliff has been extensively involved in Aboriginal community economic & business development throughout Canada. Thru 1995-2002, Cliff had been employed as the Executive Director of the Gwaii Trust – a partnership between the Haida Nation and the settlers on Haida Gwaii. Gwaii Trust manages a perpetual trust fund initially capitalized at $38 million in 1994; market value in early 2003 was $62 million. In December 2002, Cliff was hired by National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association (NACCA) as the Chief Operating Officer, responsible for finance and programs. NACCA is an association of 55 Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs). Since October 2006, Cliff Fregin leads the New Relationship Trust (NRT) as Chief Executive Officer. NRT is a trust fund charged with building capacity for British Columbia First Nations by supporting First Nation governance, education, economic development, language revitalization, and youth & Elders activities.

Chanze Gamble is from the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation in Saskatchewan. Chanze completed high school at Upper Canada College in Toronto, attended the University of Toronto for his undergraduate and completed his MBA at Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC. For the past 15 years, Chanze has focused on First Nations business development and currently is the General Manager of NRT; in his role, he oversees the financial contributions to First Nations in BC, manages the day to day operations, and provides investment and policy development support to the NRT CEO and Board. Prior to working with NRT, Chanze was a business consultant working with First Nations across Canada. Examples of his projects include the First Nations Consultation and Accommodation Best Practice Report and brokering a partnership between the Tsawwassen First Nation and Delta Port Authority in Tsawwassen, BC.

"Building Aboriginal Procurement Business Partnerships”, Stephen Jacobsen, AANDC

This presentation aims to provide Aboriginal businesses with comprehensive information in order to enhance their opportunities to bid and win federal contracts. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) has a number of levers, along with the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business (PSAB) that can be used to enhance Aboriginal capacity that will be discussed during this presentation. The presentation will cover, outline and highlight: the PSAB Policy, Provincial Partnerships, and Business Partnerships.

"Business Development Bank of Canada, (BDC) & Aboriginal Banking Presentation/E-Spirit Video Montage”, Cheryl K. Watson & Dana Squire, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

BDC is Canada’s business development bank. From more than 100 business centres across the country, we will help accelerate entrepreneurs’ success thanks to tailored financing, venture capital and consulting needs. BDC’s Aboriginal Banking Unit was created in 1996 to meet the specific needs of Aboriginal businesses. Our goal is to help Aboriginal Entrepreneurs succeed by providing long-term and flexible solutions, designed specifically for them. Our team members are Aboriginal people who understand the business needs and challenges in your community. The BDC presentation will highlight our products and services and the successful initiative – a National Aboriginal Youth Business Plan Competition titled ‘E-Spirit’.

Cheryl K. Watson is a member of the Ochapowace First Nation in Saskatchewan. Cheryl has completed her formal education with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and Business Administration & Bachelor of Arts in Politics. Cheryl has been with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) for eleven years as one of the E-Spirit Project Managers. Her responsibilities also include the role of Aboriginal Banking Representative – Business Development where she promotes BDC’s financial and consulting services to influencers, complementary agencies and potential clients by identifying leads and business opportunities.

Dana Squire is a member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band in Newfoundland and Labrador. Dana has completed her formal education with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and a Business Administration Degree from Memorial University. Dana has been with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) for two years in both sales and her current role as Regional Manager. Her current responsibilities with BDC include supporting and promoting Aboriginal Entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada.

"Community Small Wind Energy”, Dennis Thomas, TWN Wind Power

Presentation will discuss the following:

  • How communities can economically benefit from small wind clean energy projects:
    • Lowering costs of energy
    • Revenue stream for the community
    • Job creation for qualified community members
  • Education for students Gr 5-12 on wind energy, and the science of how wind energy works
  • Examples of projects with small wind turbines
  • The difference of community scale small wind vs. big wind farms

Dennis Thomas is a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (People of the Inlet) in Deep Cove, North Vancouver. Dennis began working for his community in 2007 as the Coordinator for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. His role was to engage the community in all areas relating to the Winter Games. From Artisan development to hosting Olympic related events, Dennis made sure his Nation was positively respected in the eyes of the world. After the Winter Games Dennis pursued business with his Nation and became the Project Manager for Economic Development. His main role was to run and operate Takaya Tours, the only First Nation market ready eco-Tourism Canoe & Kayak Company in the lower mainland Vancouver. When Dennis is not doing Tourism he is helping other Aboriginal communities develop renewable wind projects in North America with TWN Wind Power, a 100% owned company by Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Dennis is active in a variety of sports and continues traditional performances with "Children of Takaya”, a dance group started in the 1950’s by his late great uncle Chief Dan George.

"Education Through Strategic Partnerships – Mining Essentials: A Work Readiness Training Program for Aboriginal Peoples”, Melanie Sturk, Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR)

Mining and mineral exploration sites are often in close proximity to Aboriginal communities, creating employment and economic development opportunities. Companies are keen to recruit locally but sometimes struggle due to a lack of ‘work readiness’ skills. Mining Essentials, developed in partnership between MiHR and the Assembly of First Nations, teaches non-technical skills industry has identified as essential to be considered for careers in mining using industry examples and traditional Aboriginal cultural approaches. Delivered locally through strategic partnerships between Aboriginal communities, education and industry, Mining Essentials is an innovative approach to community readiness for careers in mining and mineral exploration.

As Director, Attraction, Retention, and Transition, Melanie Sturk is responsible for the initiatives that encourage new workers, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to engage in mining careers that support the industry by enhancing workplace diversity. Melanie holds a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management from Acadia University and a Professional Certificate in Management Skills from the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University. Melanie has managed and presented on multiple development and research projects on workplace diversity in mining.

"East Prairie Métis Settlement Strategic Economic Development Planning & Implementation: The Plan, the Economic Development Coordinator, the Development Corporation and Implementation Tools – HOW IT ALL FITS TOGETHER”, Gerald Cunningham & Terry Coyes, East Prairie Métis Settlement

Summary of the EPMS strategic economic development planning (SEDP) process, profiling:

  1. SEDP overview: present the organizational chart to summarize the SEDP, the goal, the objectives & the various activity areas;
  2. Moving from planning to implementation: the EPMS development corporation
    1. the enterprise development process – goal setting, pre-feasibility, feasibility assessment, business plan
  3. HR/Implementation: the Economic Development Coordinator job description/analysis/structure developed and how it meshes with the SEDP;
  4. Tool description: the economic development protocol – from identifying an opportunity to it being added to the strategic plan;
  5. How the elements above are interconnected with one another via the SEDP.

Gerald Cunningham is the current Chairman of the East Prairie Metis Settlement. He and his council have committed to the process of strategic economic development planning and anticipate that the ongoing results of implementing the plan will assist his community to proceed towards self-reliance.

Terry Coyes, BCom, TAED, PAED has been working with EPMS for the past 12 months as a Strategic Economic Development Planner to develop and implement the strategic plan, structure the staff position of Economic Development Coordinator (EDC) and provide orientation & ongoing training to the EDC.

"Housing as a Business (HaaB)”
Ken Jacobs, Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada (AANDC) – Ontario Region

The objective of Housing as a Business (HaaB) is to help facilitate change in attitudes of all First Nation housing stakeholders to consider the feasibility of housing as revenue generating rather than a social or capital program. This presentation explores the business opportunity in Housing that is emerging for First Nation communities. This Economic Development opportunity is the result of the steady on-reserve growth of the Aboriginal population, the pent up demand for affordable housing, the need for major housing repairs, new solutions to traditional barriers and the goal for First Nations to become self-sufficient in housing. Several First Nations are exploring an innovative approach to address the housing needs of the community. Revolving loan programs for private home ownership, affordable rental programs, contracting and supply business and many other entrepreneurial opportunities will be discussed. Government programs that support business will also be examined to demonstrate how they can support "Housing as a Business (HaaB)”.

Ken Jacobs is an Ojibway Indian born at Curve Lake First Nation near Peterborough, Ontario. Ken returned to school after 10 years of various jobs in manufacturing and graduated from Sir Sandford Fleming College after studying Business Administration for three years. Ken has spent the last 32 years working at different levels of management in government services with First Nations and the Federal government. Ken has an extensive background in managing of personnel and managing programs. Eight years were spent as the senior administrative officer at the First Nation level. Ken’s present position is Issues Management Advisor with the Ontario Region of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). Ken advises on devolution strategies, policies, issues, systems, and schedules and works within the Lands and Economic Development (LED) directorate developing mechanisms to assist in the transfer of program capability to First Nations.

"Impact Benefit Agreements – Taking Control With Insurance”
Malcolm Smith & Ryan Ginnish, Thunderbird Commercial Insurance; Jennifer Radford, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP; Doug Bourque, BMO Bank of Montreal; and Chief James Delorme, Klahoose First Nation

The focus of this panel is to explore the importance of insurance and risk management to First Nations and demonstrate how to incorporate control of these risk transfer mechanisms into Impact Benefit Agreements. The panelists will explain why insurance and risk management should be included in the terms of the IBA’s they sign, and present a format on how these clauses can be legally written into impact benefit agreements as well as other joint venture agreements. The presentations will also provide an overview of the legal, financial and insurance perspectives as it pertains to First Nations, and will offer the hands-on advice and experience of First Nation negotiators who are involved in IBA negotiations.


Malcolm Smith and his partner, Ryan Ginnish, a Mi’kmaq from Membertou First Nation, launched their own commercial insurance brokerage in February 2012. In March 2009 Malcolm created the business plan for an Aboriginally owned insurance brokerage in Atlantic Canada and in July 2009 Membertou Insurance Brokers was incorporated. Malcolm acted as President & General Manager and grew MIB into a $2,000,000 plus premium brokerage that was very profitable for Membertou First Nation. Previous to beginning his career in the insurance industry Malcolm held various management positions in the Food Service industry and marketed environmentally positive products from vegetable-based lubricants, to customized hazardous storage buildings. Malcolm officially entered the insurance sector in 1996 working for both mid- ‐size and global insurance brokers as well on the insurance side as a national director of sales. In 2003 Malcolm achieved several designations including a CAIB, Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker, with honours, a CHS, Certified Health Specialist and a CRM, Canadian Risk Management. Malcolm is a graduate of Acadia University where he completed a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Malcolm was insurance broker for the 2008 North American Indigenous Games and was deeply involved in the Halifax bid for the 2014 NAIG. In 2010 Malcolm was appointed to and handled the insurance for the 2011 Canada Winter Games.


Ryan Ginnish is the majority owner and Partner with Thunderbird Commercial Insurance. Ryan was born and raised in Membertou and still proudly calls it home today. Ryan graduated from Cape Breton University in 2010, with a concentration in Mi’kmaq studies. During this same time he also enrolled in the two-year business diploma program at the Nova Scotia community College. If not for a near fatal car accident, he would have completed the program. While attending college he took an interest in Insurance and successfully obtained his Level 1 Insurance license. Ryan’s ultimate goal is to obtain his Level III Insurance license, which will allow him to operate his own insurance brokerage. He is committed to offering professional services, products and advice to First Nation communities and businesses in the field of Insurance. Ryan is happily married and a proud father of three, two boys and one girl. Through coaching First nation youth for Membertou in Native hockey tournaments, Ryan strives to be a positive role model. Ryan has been doing so for the past three years and his community’s hockey program has seen such a positive impact, that it has resulted in winning numerous Championships. Which in turn, helps the players gain higher self-esteem and become better students in school.

Jennifer Radford is a Partner in the Ottawa office. Jennifer received a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Alberta in International Political Science in 1997. She went on to attend the joint international program at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, receiving a Masters of Arts (Honours) in international affairs in 2000 and a Bachelor of Laws in 2001. She was called to the Bar of the Province of Ontario in 2002. Jennifer is a member of the Ottawa Civil Litigation Practice Group. Jennifer is an active volunteer with Law Help Ontario, Reach Canada and is the Ottawa office’s Executive Campaign Coordinator for the United Way. Jennifer is a regular speaker and instructor at health law, insurance and tort law, Aboriginal law, and economic sanctions and export compliance events and courses.

Doug Bourque has worked in the financial services industry for 33 years with the majority being in Commercial Banking; the past 15 years of which have been in the Aboriginal market. Under his current role with BMO Bank of Montreal, Doug is responsible for the strategy and business development activities for First Nations and Aboriginal entities in the Province of BC and Yukon. He also works closely with BMO’s National Office Aboriginal Banking, assisting with the development of National strategies. Doug, who is Cree was born and raised in Peace River Alberta. He has had a very active volunteer life. He was heavily involved in the Friendship Centre movement early in his adult life being a President of a local Friendship Centre for 5 years, as well as being the National Board Representative for Alberta on the National Association of Friendship Centres for 4 years. Other volunteer commitments include being the Co-Chair of Region 3 Child & Family Services where he completed a service delivery plan for the region. He has been an Authority Board member of both the Calgary Rockyview Child & Family Services Region and the Edmonton Child & Family Services Region. Doug was the Business Committee Chair for Aboriginal Opportunities Committee with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, a Board member of the Calgary Native Awareness Society, as well as a board member of an Aboriginal Capital Corp. Doug currently sits as a Board Member of Qathen Xwegus Management Corporation which manages all of the economic development for the Klahoose First Nation. Doug is currently a member of the AFOA, National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association, and Cando and is committed to providing the Aboriginal communities with improved access to financial products and services.

Chief James Delorme from the Klahoose First Nation is the leader of his Nation and a proponent of economic development for his people. Klahoose First Nation is a Coast Saliah people on the West Coast of British Columbia. Chief Delorme is President of Qathen Xwegus Management Corporation which has interest in Forestry, Hydro projects and Aquaculture. Most of Chief Delorme’s experience is in communications and management but has an interest in social development and artistic and cultural practices. He is very passionate about building capacity within his own people.

"First Nations Economic Development Readiness Questionnaire”, Patrice McKenzie, Ministry of Economic Development & Innovation & Arnelda Bennett, Sagamok Anishnawbek

The First Nations Economic Development Readiness Questionnaire is a fundamental tool in First Nations economic development planning. It represents the thoughts, ideas and expert advice gathered from a cross section of First Nations members in partnership with academics and provincial, federal and First Nations governments. Implementing the Questionnaire will position First Nations communities to prepare for and undergo broader long term comprehensive community planning and capacity building. In addition, answers gathered from implementing the Questionnaire will provide First Nations Economic Development Officers with essential information required when preparing funding proposals under the federal government’s Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development. Specialists in the field of First Nations economic development have deemed it a one-of-a-kind tool unique to Canada.

Since 1994 Patrice has been involved in Aboriginal economic development to promote sustainable Aboriginal communities, businesses and organizations. As a Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, Patrice focuses on promoting Aboriginal youth entrepreneurship, business and community capacity development, and broadband connectivity. Her experience includes research and analysis, inter-ministerial and intergovernmental policy and program development, and providing effective outreach facilitation and liaison services. Patrice was a co-winner of the Ontario government’s "Amethyst Award” and winner of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mine’s "Most Valuable Partnership Award” for her outstanding contribution to Aboriginal economic development in Ontario.

Arnelda Bennett has a total of 20 years of experience in Economic Development for First Nation communities. Her experience includes: (1) Economic Development Officer for the Sagamok Development Corporation for a total of 10 years. Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation is located in Northeastern Ontario near Massey. (2) Prior to that, she has worked with Waubetek Business Development Corporation and with Aboriginal Business Canada/INAC as a Business Development Officer and External Delivery Officer for ten years. Arnelda possesses a diploma in Business Administration and is certified through the Economic Development Program through the University of Waterloo.

"Fostering Indigenous Engagement in Business Education: The Business Network for Aboriginal Youth”, Dr. Keith G. Brown, Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies, Cape Breton University

Aboriginal leaders across the country agree that the study of business will help communities achieve their goals of economic development and self-governance. In 2011, the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies at Cape Breton University established the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth (BNAY), connecting Aboriginal high school students in Nova Scotia to Aboriginal business mentors to facilitate the transition to post-secondary business programs. In this presentation, I review the structure of the program, the involvement of Elders and an Aboriginal advisory council, and the way in which social media accessed via BlackBerry technology shaped BNAY programming. I will then assess the success of the program and suggest implications this program has for Aboriginal youth and their communities.

Keith Brown is an Associate Professor within the Shannon School of Business, as well as Vice President of External and the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies, all at Cape Breton University. He earned his BBA from St. Francis Xavier University, his BBEd from Saint Mary’s University, his MBA from City University, and his PhD from Bradford University.

"Indigenous Women in Community Leadership”, Sheila Isaac, Coady International Institute

An overview of the award winning certificate program for Canadian Aboriginal women offered at the Coady International Institute out of St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) will be provided. Indigenous Women in Community Leadership is a 4 month program to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit women in strengthening and building their communities. This program is made possible by the generous support of the Imperial Oil Foundation and Exxon Mobil. Each successful candidate receives a full scholarship which includes: tuition, travel, accommodations, meals and a 3 month community placement stipend.

Sheila is a Mi’kmaq from Listuguj First Nation, Quebec and is the mother of a daughter, Chantal. Sheila worked with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) as a Regional Liaison Officer with the Atlantic Region and as a former policy analyst in Governance for AANDC Headquarters. She is also a former policy analyst for the Aboriginal Relations Office at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada where she worked primarily on Aboriginal women and youth employment policy. Sheila has also taught the "Issues in Diversity and First Nations” course for the Police Foundations Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa. She worked as a policy analyst for the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Sheila also had summer jobs with the Assembly of First Nations on a fishery project and as a researcher/policy analyst for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Sheila has a BA Major in Political Science from Concordia University in Montreal, a LLB from the University of Ottawa and received her call to the bar in 1998 with the Law Society of Upper Canada.

"Partnerships and Capacity Building in Aboriginal Community Economic Development”
Owen Fitzgerald, Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office

The five First Nations communities in Unama’ki (Cape Breton) have formed a unique economic partnership, the Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office (UEBO). They realized the importance of taking a business approach to pursuing economic opportunities and the importance of partnering with business and governments in that approach to economic development that is becoming recognized across Canada. The UEBO has recently established partnerships with Emera Inc. and Bell Aliant. These partners work with the Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office to train local Aboriginals to meet the need for skilled workers. The success of these strategic partnerships is reflected in tangible measures such as jobs.

Owen Fitzgerald is the Executive Director of the Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office in Membertou. His focus is community economic development and training in the five First Nations communities in Unama’ki (Cape Breton). Owen has his MBA from Cape Breton University with a focus on community economic development. He operated his own business in Sydney for over 20 years and has published four books.

"Partnerships for Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development: the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Developers Network (AAEDN) and the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program (AAEDIRP)
Gillian Austin, Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program and John G. Paul, Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat

This presentation will focus on the partnerships of the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Developers Network (AAEDN) and the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program, (AAEDIRP). It will highlight the Atlantic Aboriginal Community Level Data Gathering Project (AACDGP) – an Economic Development Officer (EDO) success story. The main purpose of the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program (AAEDIRP) is to improve the knowledge base concerning Atlantic Aboriginal economic development in order to improve the lives of the Aboriginal people in the region. The AAEDIRP is a unique research program formed in 2007 through partnerships between the 38 member communities of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs, as well as the Inuit of Labrador, 12 Atlantic universities and 4 government funders, both federal and provincial.

The Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Developers Network (AAEDN) is the first network of its kind in Canada and encompasses the whole Atlantic region. It is intended to cross jurisdictions and boundaries to bring people together. AAEDN has been endorsed by the 38 First Nations of the Atlantic Chiefs to carry out the Atlantic Aboriginal Economy Building Strategy (AAEBS). The Network has allowed economic development officers to have a forum to share knowledge, best practices, do training together and do regional-based projects and initiatives.

Gillian has been the Research Coordinator of the AAEDIRP since 2007. She has helped develop this unique research program to build it to the stage where nine research projects have been completed to support Atlantic Aboriginal communities in their economic development. A major focus over the years has been working on projects initiated by Aboriginal people working to protect their culture and natural environment. She has 15 years experience as a consultant; providing coordination, research and writing, communication and organizational skills, mainly to environmental and Native non-profit organizations. Gillian completed a Master of Environmental Studies at York University in 1996, focusing on cultural and Native issues: Native/settler relations in Canada, Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Natural World, Environmental Health and Education, Environmental Philosophy and Cultural Studies. Her thesis was a story writing project exploring the relationship between story and land. She has a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University, completed in 1989. Gillian has traveled and worked in Asia, teaching English as a Second Language in Taiwan and working in with Hmong hilltribe refugees bound for resettlement in the U.S. in the Phanat Nikhom Refugee Camp in Thailand. Her love of travel also took her to Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) where she lived for four years, working with the Haida and with environmental groups to protect forests and wildlife.

Mr. Paul is the Executive Director of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Taking direction from the Atlantic Chiefs through frequent All Chiefs Forums and Executive Chiefs Meetings, Mr. Paul provides policy analysis and strategic advice on a wide range of policy issues facing First Nations in Atlantic Canada and Eastern Quebec. The APC Secretariat’s mandate is to research, analyze and develop alternatives to federal policies affecting its member First Nation communities. Mr. Paul has a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies and received his Master of Public Administration in Financial Management from Halifax’s Dalhousie University in 1982. A dedicated advocate for First Nations, Mr. Paul has worked toward positive change for First Nations communities in diverse policy areas for more than 25 years. Mr. Paul plays a strategic role in his efforts to liaise between government and First Nations communities. He provides ongoing policy support and advice on First Nations issues in the areas of social wellbeing, health, housing, education, and economic development. His work includes negotiation and advocacy on measures related to the DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans), AAND (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada), Health Canada, and other federal agencies. In recent years, Mr. Paul was a key First Nations advocate in his role as Treaty Mediator during the implementation of the Marshall decision. Prior to this, Mr. Paul provided consulting and advisory services as Director to the Self Government Secretariat at Health Canada. His current efforts in policy and advocacy are grounded in over ten years’ community-level governance at the Membertou First Nation, where he worked as a Councillor, Band Planner, and Development Officer.

"PTI’s Aboriginal Engagement Model”, Stephen Crocker, PTI Group Inc.

The PTI Director Aboriginal Relations will speak to the traditional recruitment methods used by PTI and why they were unsuccessful with Aboriginal people. He will outline the development and implementation of PTI’s Aboriginal Engagement Model. The model was successfully launched in 2010 and has been used to recruit almost 250 Aboriginal new-hires. Finally, he will address the future growth and vision for the PTI Aboriginal recruitment and employment program.

Stephen Crocker started his career working with Aboriginal peoples teaching in the isolated First Nation communities of Northern Ontario and Manitoba. From there he managed a nonprofit Employment Agency which provided temporary casual employment opportunities to Aboriginal peoples of inner city Edmonton. Then, for over six years Stephen took the reigns as Operations Manager for Indian Oil Sands Economic Development Corporation, owned by the Indian Association of Alberta, an organization that developed business plans for First Nations wishing to start businesses. His growing expertise led him to pursue the opportunity of Self Government Coordinator for the Metis Nation of Alberta where he assisted with the development of the Metis Framework Agreement in partnership with the Province of Alberta. Looking for ever increasing challenges Stephen next found himself aiding in the establishment of the Apeetogosan (Metis) Development Corporation as its founding Operations Manager. Deciding to strike out on his own, Stephen established himself as an independent Consultant for the next 11 years, helping Aboriginal people with new venture startups. Stephen then joined the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) as Manager, Aboriginal Initiatives. For the next 10 years Stephen and his team developed and coordinated the delivery of NAIT programs to Aboriginal Communities in Northern and Western Canada. Most recently in 2009 Stephen joined the PTI Group of Companies as Director Aboriginal Relations. Stephen’s responsibilities include spearheading and development of Aboriginal strategic alliances, recruitment, training, and inclusion initiatives and leading Aboriginal consultation and accommodation for the PTI Group.

"The Aboriginal Forestry Initiative (AFI)”, Trevor Longpre, Natural Resources Canada

The Aboriginal Forestry Initiative (AFI) is a horizontal-federal Aboriginal economic development initiative. Only in its second year of operation, the AFI has seeded a number of Aboriginal-led forestry projects across the country; all having the potential for significant regional impacts to the economy. This presentation will highlight NRCan’s early analysis to monitor trends in Aboriginal forestry. Trudy will recount what Aboriginal communities identified to NRCan as priority opportunity areas to support Aboriginal forestry under the AFI. Trudy will also relate how that input informed the structure, objectives, and eligibility for the AFI, and early successes achieved by communities receiving AFI support.

"The Potential Economic Benefits from Resource Companies”, Suzette McFaul & Yvonne Fizer, SEF Canada

Many Aboriginal communities are positioned to experience significant economic benefits deriving from exploration and mine development. Many companies are looking for ways to invest in communities as their contribution to the development of a sustainable local economy that will last beyond the life of the mine; one that will leave a legacy representing the positive and productive partnership between the mining company and the Aboriginal community. Mining companies have utilized and/or recognized Enterprise Facilitation as a sustainable solution for investing in local communities impacted by their mining operations. This session will introduce you to Enterprise Facilitation as a community-based economic development initiative that is a replicable, cost-effective, and sustainable approach to economic development. SEF is pleased and excited to work with Cando in offering this program.

Suzette’s background as a successful entrepreneur encompasses being a small business owner to creating a medium size management and consulting firm. This provided the insight to relate with business owners while gathering respect from small to large size businesses. As the first Enterprise Facilitator in British Columbia, her mandate was to assist people in starting their own business and help existing businesses expand within the City of New Westminster. She provided assistance ranging in size from small home based businesses to $12 million development projects, assisting over 105 new businesses with a success rate of over 90%. Suzette began working for the Sirolli Institute, as part of the project implementation team and provided support and training to various Enterprise Facilitation projects throughout the Western United States and UK. In 2012, she became the managing director of SEF Canada. She is excited to build upon her vision to assist in advancing Enterprise Facilitation throughout communities.

Yvonne launched her career in the Public Sector as Consumer Educator and later Advisor for home-based and women in business in the Economic Development Department. Yvonne advised entrepreneurs on enterprise start up and helped Cities reconcile their regulations to allow businesses to incubate from home. In 1996 Yvonne left the public sector to invest 14 years developing the market for Enterprise Facilitation®, a person-centered economic development approach developed by Ernesto Sirolli. As Business Development Director at the Sirolli Institute International, Yvonne negotiated with Public and Private sector firms to support entrepreneurs with Enterprise Facilitation in fulfillment of their economic development strategies. In 2011 Yvonne joined the FarmOn Foundation with the mission of bringing relevant, timely and appropriate best business practices to farmers and ranchers. Yvonne’s passion for Enterprise Facilitation brought her back to SEF Canada Ltd. in 2012. She is determined to help people make a living doing what they love.

"The Poverty Action Research Project: Lessons from Experience”, Dr. Fred Wien, Dalhousie University; Warren Weir, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology; and Deborah Thiebaux & Ryan Julian, Indian Brook First Nation

PARP (The Poverty Action Research Project: Lessons from Experience) represents a partnership between a national project team of university-based researchers and the AFN. It works with five volunteer communities to strengthen their economic base, reduce poverty and improve community health/well-being. After two years, we have learned much about the challenges and opportunities facing communities and the process of engaging them. Our report will interest conference participants because it addresses the question of how communities, ranging from urban to remote locations and with varied economic circumstances, are making the transition to a more self-reliant economic base.

Dr. Fred Wien has an Honours B.A. in Political Studies and Spanish from Queen’s University (1962-66), and an M.A. and PhD. in Development Sociology, Government and Latin American Studies from Cornell University (1966-71). He served as Deputy Director of Research for RCAP and is on the editorial board of Cando’s Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development.

Warren Weir is Dean of Academic Programs at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. Warren specializes in Aboriginal organization and management, First Nation education, strategic management, and Indigenous community economic development. He has worked for various colleges and universities including Cape Breton University, University of Lethbridge, and Royal Roads University. He was the Department Head of the Administrative Studies programs at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (1990-1997), then Assistant Professor and Director of the Indigenous Management Specialization, MBA Program, Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan (1999-2009). In 2010, Warren served as the Acting Director of the Northern Ontario Research, Development, Ideas, and Knowledge Institute, Algoma University. Warren is a member of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development (ICNGD). He is a proud member of Cando, sits on its Education Committee (1992 to present), and edits Cando’s Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development (JAED). He is a past Director of the Canadian Council of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He has his BA and MPA from the University of Victoria, a post-graduate diploma from the Institute of International Relations (University of the West Indies, Trinidad), and a professional Cando PAED designation.

Deborah Thiebaux, maiden name Julian is a mother of seven, a grandmother, a member and a Councilor for the Indian Brook First Nation in Nova Scotia. Deborah has earned her degrees in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelors of Social Work from Dalhousie University.

Ryan Julian is the son of the late Peter and Mary Agnes Julian, one of the youngest of thirteen children. Ryan’s father spend over 12 years in residential school, served three years in the Korean War and served over 30 years in council and one term as Chief. Ryan has been a lifelong resident of Indian Brook and has about 10 years of council experience. He is a father of 2 beautiful girls and a father figure to their baby sister. Ryan possesses some college and university education in business. He enjoys spending his free time on the golf course.

"Wood Based Opportunities for Aboriginal Communities”, Carole Blaquiere, FPInnovations

New opportunities are being created by the economic downturn in the Northern Ontario forest industry. Changes in tenure are providing Aboriginal people with access and generating Aboriginal led initiatives. The forest industry has been hit hard by economic factors such as the US housing market and the high dollar. Wood products compete with other industries such as concrete and steel, so why wood? What are some of the new opportunities that may be of interest for Aboriginal communities? We will discuss some of the benefits and the challenges that these prospects present.

Carole Blaquiere is an Industry Advisor with FPInnovations based out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. She has a B.Eng in Industrial Engineering and during her 14 years in industry she has worked in operations and manufacturing environments providing support to the shop floor. She has held positions in the past as an Operations Engineer, Industrial Engineer, Safety and Quality Control Coordinator. Since joining FPInnovations in 2007 she has been using her skills to help improve small and medium size companies in the wood products industry throughout Northern Ontario. A large part of her time has been spent providing technical information to Aboriginal communities and organizations so that they can make informed decisions.

"Working in Partnership with the Fund – How Membertou is Leading the Way”, Jennifer Martin, Membertou & Deborah Taylor, First Nations Market Housing Fund

Membertou has been working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund since 2009 and has the distinction of being the first community in Canada to have built a house on reserve whose financing was backed by the Fund. In a quest to develop a strong and sustainable market-based housing program Membertou has undertaken various capacity development initiatives with the support of the Fund, at the leadership, administrative and membership levels. These initiatives have been in the area of governance, land use, zoning, finance, housing and community education. They have included the development of plans, policies and processes, staff training and accreditation, as well as member education. The presentation fits in well with topics on Building Relationships, Community Readiness, Strong Leadership and Land Management. It will explain how these initiatives are linked together, make a community stronger, ready them for investments and are necessary for success. What Membertou has undertaken will serve them well into the future as they strive to provide 100s more homes over the next few years so that those working in their economy have a great place to live that meets their desires and affordability levels. The presentation will also explain to the audience how all of the steps link together and how they too could strengthen their communities to achieve success in their chosen paths.

Jennifer Martin was born and raised in Membertou, Nova Scotia – A First Nations community in beautiful Cape Breton Island. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration, from Cape Breton University and has completed a program in Management and Administration Studies with the Canadian Institute of Management. Jennifer has been employed with Membertou since 2003 and has worked as a Finance Officer, Quality Assurance Coordinator, and currently as Membertou’s Policy Coordinator. Jennifer was the one who raised the opportunity for Membertou to get involved with the Fund after attending the AFOA Atlantic Conference in the fall of 2008 where the Fund presented. She took the lead role for Membertou in securing Council’s approval, the assessment and the implementation of the Fund’s programs.

Deborah Taylor has more than 25 years of work experience at CMHC. During her career she has worked extensively with First Nations people on the design, development and management of housing programs. In 2008 she was appointed the first Executive Director of the First Nations Market Housing Fund.