2016 Community Economic Developer of the Year Award Winner
Teslin Tlingit Council & Village of Teslin, YT
Teslin, Yukon is a century-old village located at mile 804 on the Alaska Highway. Teslin is home to the Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC), an inland, self-governing First Nation that migrated up the Taku River from the coast of Alaska, armed with a comprehensive land claim settlement. The Village of Teslin (VOT) is one of eight municipal governments of the Yukon with a small, active community of 450 people. Hunting and fishing play a key role in the lives of the people who live there.
Teslin’s modern economy plays a huge role for these communities in the area of cultural tourism and recreational fishing and hunting. Approximately one third of residents are employed by TTC, VOT or the Yukon government.
The Teslin Community Development Plan 2015-2025 was formalized in 2014 by VOT and TTC. The 10-year plan was approved at a community-wide meeting and put into effect during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The plan provides framework for projects that will occur during the next 10 fiscal years and is a great example of sustainable community economic development, characterized by its commitment to SERV: social responsibility, ecological sensitivity, cultural respect and economic viability. The goal of the plan is to guarantee people in the community are able to meet their basic needs, support healthy lifestyles, develop a diverse and sustainable economy, cultivate environmental sustainability and enhance and improve knowledge, skills, capacities and capabilities in the community.
In the first year of implementation, the plan created over 110 jobs for local residents, produced 66 contracts for local suppliers and entrepreneurs and generated approximately $7.5 million in new funding for community infrastructure projects.
The collaboration between a first nation and a municipality like TTC and VOT is innovative and a great example of the benefits that are realized when communities come together with a shared vision and become ‘stronger together’.
Prior to the ten-year plan, TTC and VOT were previously working together under another name on their first sustainability plan. Through that collaboration, TTC and VOT saw the benefits of working together, but they faced some obstacles. There is often a learning curve when partnering with others and sometimes the benefits of collaboration were overshadowed in order to fit within the rules and regulations in place by one funding body or another. Since that first joint venture, a steering committee was pulled together which resulted in the creation of a ten-year plan.
The Teslin Community Development Plan 2015-2025 offers hope and promise. It is a plan based on respect for others and many communities can look to this partnership as a model of what can be accomplished through team building, community collaboration and political will.
2016 Community Economic Developer of the Year Award Recognition Recipient
Tlicho Government, NT
The Tłįchǫ Lands are located in the middle of the Northwest Territories (NWT) and begin at the tip of the north arm of Great Slave Lake. The area is filled with lakes, rivers and an abundance of wildlife that has sustained the Tłįchǫ people for generations. The total Tłįchǫ area is a total of 39,000 km square (comparable to the country of Iceland), owned by the Tłįchǫ Government, which came into effect on August 4, 2005 after the signing and ratification of the Tłįchǫ Agreement. Approximately 3,023 people reside within the Tłįchǫ Land Settlement area, representing 7% of the NWT population.
In March 2015, the Tłįchǫ Regional Economic Development Working Group (TREDWG) was formed in a collaborative partnership in the Tłįchǫ region with representation from a variety of backgrounds. The purpose of this working group was to develop a long-term framework along with various strategic economic development plans that would support clients, communities and the region as a whole. After just a year in collaboration, the group created the Tłįchǫ Region Training and Economic Development Strategy (April 2016), which focuses on assisting in economic self-sufficiency and focusing on local capacity building and maximizing opportunities, while supporting Tłįchǫ values.
The TREDWG’s members developed the strategy as a working group, conducting research, analyzing, drafting plans and consulting with stakeholders. They then brought their findings to a Tłįchǫ Executive Officer, who brought the recommendations to the Chief’s Executive Council. The Council then approved the strategic plans on behalf of the Tłįchǫ Government.
The Tłįchǫ Community Priorities and Action Plans have several common themes: tourism, traditional Tłįchǫ economies, natural resources and energy, community services, trades, traditional Tłįchǫ arts and crafts, and business services. One of the major successes of this group is the formation of a business license system for all four Tłįchǫ communities and their citizens.
One of the challenges that this region faces is its remote location. Three of four communities are “fly-in/”fly-out” access only for the majority of the year. This creates barriers when it comes to many things, such as access to pertinent business related services. The TREDWG has aided with this issue through a forum for discussions and communication along with a proposed all-season road.
Low literacy levels, education and training are another barrier in this region. The TREDWG has implemented local training courses that span over 6 weeks in each community. They’ve found that people learning within their own communities has been extremely successful for both citizens and employers.
The loss of Tłįcho language, culture and way of life is also concerning for the region. The TREWG has assisted in promotion of these important traditions through holding traditional workshops in the communities, which have been extremely successful.
The TREDWG is the first of its kind in the Tłįchǫ region and quite possibly the NWT and they are a shining example of communities working together. Their formation of their working group has brought together four communities and within one year has already done great work. Within two years The TREDWG expects the Tłįchǫ region to be well on its way to being a self-sustainable economic region.
Past Community Category Winners
2010 - Chippewa Industrial Developments Ltd.
2009 - Enoch Cree Nation
2008 - Kamloops Indian Band
2007 - Little Shuswap Indian Band
2006 - Whitecap Dakota First Nation
2005 - Long Plain First Nation
2004 - Piikuni Wind Power
2003 - Membertou Corporate Division
2002 - Aboriginal Business Development Center