ARCHIVED - Renovating Programs in Support of Lands & Economic Development - Gender Roundtable

Archived information

This Web page has been archived on the Web. Archived information is provided for reference, research or record keeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

October 12-13, 2010
Ottawa, Ontario

This report was produced under contract with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) by a firm of independent conference content specialists whose responsibility was to capture and synthesize as accurately as possible the discussions from this engagement session. Opinions expressed are those of the individual participants cited and should not be considered as endorsed by INAC.


Table of Contents

Stakeholder Engagement Reports

Released in June 2009, the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development provides a new and comprehensive approach to Aboriginal economic development that reflects the significant, real and growing opportunities for Aboriginal people in Canada. The Framework provides for a focused, government-wide approach that is responsive to new and changing economic conditions and leverages partnerships to address persistent barriers that impede the full participation of Aboriginal people in the Canadian economy.

While the Framework represents a modern and strategic approach to Aboriginal economic development, several of the economic development programs delivered by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada have been in place for many years and need to be updated in order to be more responsive to the unique needs and opportunities of First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

In keeping with the Government of Canada's commitment to develop meaningful partnerships with stakeholders, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada organized a series of national and regional stakeholder engagement sessions to obtain input on how Aboriginal economic development programs may be renovated to better meet the needs of Aboriginal people across Canada.

These sessions took place from May to December 2010 and focused on obtaining input from individuals and organizations with direct experience in Aboriginal economic development. The process also focused on building and strengthening existing partnerships with all stakeholders and determining the unique needs and goals of First Nations, Metis and Inuit as they relate to economic development. In total, nineteen sessions took place reaching approximately 860 stakeholders.

All of the input obtained during the regional engagement sessions was captured by a firm of independent conference content specialists. The content specialists have carefully synthesized the feedback received from the Gender Roundtable participations and prepared this final report. The report captures the discussions from the Gender Roundtable including details regarding the aspects of programming that stakeholders consider to be working well, areas requiring improvement and key recommendations regarding priorities for funding and changes to program design and delivery.

The input provided by stakeholders, as detailed in the report, is now being used to inform program renovation options for the lands, business and community economic development programs administered by INAC.

Return to Table of Contents




Opening Prayer

Elder Gordon Williams

Elder Gordon Williams offered a prayer to begin the roundtable and thanked the Algonquin Nation, upon whose lands the meeting took place.

Return to Table of Contents




Welcoming Remarks

Co-chairs

Dawn Madahbee
Executive Member
National Aboriginal Economic Development Board

Suzanne Clément
Head of Agency
Status of Women Canada

Dawn Madahbee said she has the great privilege of working alongside many leaders in Aboriginal economic development and has witnessed the progress being made.

"I'm very proud time is being set aside to have this session to get information on gender issues to ensure Aboriginal women are involved in business and economic development in Canada," she said.

She reviewed statistics that illustrate some of the obstacles that Aboriginal women face in participating in economic development in their communities. For example, 19% of Aboriginal women head a lone parent family, compared to just 8% of their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Challenges facing Aboriginal women also include less access to marital real property rights among First Nations women on-reserve, less access to financial equity, and lower rates of home ownership than their non-Aboriginal and male counterparts.

This roundtable is part of a broader engagement process, which includes regional sessions and targeted thematic events for gender issues, youth, and others, that provides stakeholders with an opportunity to inform the renovation of Aboriginal lands and economic development programs. Ms. Madahbee encouraged participants to help identify ways to remove barriers, make recommendations, and think of new strategies to promote Aboriginal women's participation in the economy.

"This roundtable is a chance for all of us to make sure that the diverse priorities and needs of women are part of the federal government's work to support economic development and change in Aboriginal communities."

Suzanne Clément thanked Elder Williams for his thoughtful opening prayer and thanked the participants for attending this gathering. She said Status of Women Canada is pleased to collaborate with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to co-host this roundtable to provide a forum for Aboriginal women's input into the implementation of the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development. Ms. Clément said there are twice as many participants this year as at the 2009 roundtable: "I believe that's a testament to the strong commitment to the goal of improving the economic strength of Aboriginal women in the Canadian economy."

The path to economic prosperity among Aboriginal people is complex and requires many willing partners. Status of Women Canada advised that the Framework objectives and performance measurement indicators should collect and use sex-disaggregated data.

Ms. Clément said good data is the key lever for making effective and efficient adaptation to programs and projects as they evolve. The collection of sex-disaggregated data is a key priority for Status of Women Canada.

Return to Table of Contents




Gender and the Implementation of the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development: An Overview

Allan Clarke
Director General, Policy and Coordination Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Headquarters

Allan Clarke acknowledged the participants from across Canada and thanked them for their participation and commitment. He said INAC is pleased to be working with the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board and Status of Women Canada.

Mr. Clarke gave some background on the development of the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development. Since the release in 1989 of the Canadian Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy (CAEDS), the needs, conditions, opportunities, and challenges of Aboriginal Canadians have changed enormously.

"We're in a position now where there is a unique opportunity to act," he said.

Aboriginal Canadians represent the fastest growing segment of Canada's population. Because of comprehensive and specific land claim settlements, the Aboriginal land and resource base is growing. There is demonstrable interest from the non-Aboriginal private sector in working with Aboriginal peoples. Aboriginal leadership sees economic development as an important part of moving forward for better outcomes.

Barriers to Aboriginal economic development include the regulatory and legislative environment, skilled labour shortages, deficits in structure to support communities, persistent impediments to taking advantage of land and resources, deficits in organizational capacity, and persistent difficulties in accessing capital and equity.

The Framework is an aspirational vision, Mr. Clarke said. It is a decision-making, assessment, and communications tool. INAC has done considerable work on gender-based analysis (GBA), and the Framework is explicit that one size does not fit all. Mr. Clarke said it is clear Aboriginal women have a vital role to play in economic development, but it is also clear their full participation has not been realized. Mr. Clarke reviewed recommendations from the April 2009 Roundtable on Aboriginal Women and Economic Development, and outlined some opportunities to ensure gender is integrated into the implementation of the Framework.

Return to Table of Contents




Stakeholder Perspectives: Strategies to Support Aboriginal Women's Economic Participation at a Community Level

Vera Pawis Tabobondung
President
National Association of Friendship Centres

Vera Pawis Tabobondung said she welcomed this opportunity to provide the National Association of Friendship Centres' perspective and hopes regarding urban Aboriginal women. The 120 member friendship centres and seven provincial and territorial organizations are uniquely positioned and committed to generating sustainable development to improve the life of Canada's urban Aboriginal peoples.

Ms. Tabobondung said 42.7% of Aboriginal women live in poverty. Moving to an urban area is often the most significant economic decision an Aboriginal person makes. The reasons for relocation are often grim for Aboriginal women: victimization and domestic violence means the decision to leave is not based on opportunity but on the need to escape.

There is little formal socio-economic support for Aboriginal women entering urban environments. Research shows that urban Aboriginal people remain seriously disadvantaged economically. The standard description of economic development initiatives focuses on welfare for labour force, training to upgrade skills, relocation assistance, and loans and grants, ignoring the importance of the collective, family, nation, and gender analysis. However, given proper supports, there is potential for incredible opportunities, Ms. Tabobondung said.

She said Canada's Action Plan Against Racism must more effectively reach out to urban Aboriginal women. The absence of culturally appropriate child care is a major barrier because there are not enough spaces to provide reliable support to the majority of the urban Aboriginal population.

Other issues include access to capital, access to effective training and apprenticeship programs, access to business development opportunities that can help individuals and communities diversify revenues and become less reliant on government transfers, targeted opportunities for youth, and access to micro-financing and income supports for individuals starting businesses.

Ms. Tabobondung said education is the single greatest factor in supporting economic development for urban Aboriginal people and the least supported by governments because of jurisdictional disputes. A specific urban education strategy is required.

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples listed stable leadership and vision as a factor in economic success. The Aboriginal community must come together and define an urban Aboriginal governance strategy. Some urban areas have developed political councils, but this has been slow and sporadic.

Institutional development is a key area for economic success, Ms. Tabobondung said. Over 200 First Nation communities have competitive advantages in location and access to labour and resources, but they are missing basic market institutions.

Ms. Tabobondung said basic, systematic, social, economic, and educational barriers must be overcome, including homelessness; child care for single parents; racism; and lack of food, clothing, and shelter. Culturally appropriate and effective gender-specific programming is needed. She recommended a focus on Aboriginal youth in urban settings.

The friendship centre movement is well placed to be a key player in human resource development strategies. Governments and the private sector must involve Aboriginal and community organizations as equal partners.

"We need to be an active participant in the building of those Aboriginal economies. It's important we continue to talk to each other as women," said Ms. Tabobondung. "We have the sole responsibility and role of the raising up of our children... If we're going to continue to label ourselves and become territorial, we won't be able to build our economies for our children and great-grandchildren." There is a need to discuss resources and protocols and to establish partners. "We have to share and recognize the skills and talents we have in our communities."

Suzanne Clément said recent data shows women have greater success in starting small to medium-sized enterprises. The business world has evolved so there is no longer one model, and people who are creative will have more opportunities. She said the data also shows women business owners have a tendency to spend more of their profit margins to create more jobs, which is another good reason for supporting women's business development.

Return to Table of Contents




Facilitated Discussion: Priorities for Incorporating Gender Throughout Implementation of the Framework: Opportunities and Challenges

Facilitator
Beverley O'Neil

Participants discussed the most significant barriers to Aboriginal women's participation in the economy, and identified opportunities to address those barriers through the Framework.

Beverley O'Neil asked participants to address the areas of entrepreneurship and business, capacity and skill development among entrepreneurs, asset valuation, and partnerships. She said each group discussion throughout the round table should consider barriers, tools and strategies, opportunities, and the role of government.

Participants identified significant barriers to Aboriginal women's participation:

Participants outlined opportunities:

Participants also suggested that the First Peoples Economic Growth Fund [Note 1] in Manitoba could serve as a model, and that grants, not just loans, should be available for starting businesses.

A participant said that because of land claims settlement, there are no reserves in the Yukon. She said INAC programs targeting on-reserve Aboriginal people leave out the Yukon. Another participant said the North is vast, and different territories in the North have to be treated individually because they have different needs. A participant said INAC recognizes status on-reserve, but her province has status off-reserve.

One participant asked the government to study why it is so much more expensive to live, buy, and sell in northern and remote communities. "When you are creating programs, if you have the statistics in front of you, it would make it easier to notice we have a harder time making the dollar go further than elsewhere in Canada," she said.

Return to Table of Contents




Panel: Aboriginal Women and Economic Development: Opportunities for Women in Non-Traditional Sectors

Panellists
Roberta Stout
Researcher
Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence

Nadine Roach
Forestry Unit, Union of Ontario Indians

Roberta Stout gave an overview of a community-based research study about Aboriginal women's employment experiences in mining and non-traditional industries in Northern Manitoba.

"I believe this allows the women whom I worked with to bring their voices here in this forum," she said.

Mining is the largest industrial employer of Aboriginal people in Canada, employing 4,500 Aboriginal people. Aboriginal women account for 14% of all mining employees but earn on average $15,000 less per year than Aboriginal men, even when they have post-secondary education. They tend to be employed in support staff roles, with only 0.6% in management positions.

"Ramp-Up: A Study on the Status of Women in Canada's Mining and Exploration Sector," a national study by the organization Women in Mining, has many similarities with her study, Ms. Stout said. Ms. Stout held interviews with nine Aboriginal women between the ages of 28 and 63 years in Northern Manitoba. While many women spoke positively about their work and employers, those who were no longer employed voiced concerns.

Women in Ms. Stout's study spoke of a diversity of pathways that led them into the workforce: family or community connections, financial incentives, interest in mechanical work, or promoting Aboriginal women's employment.

The study participants said they were happy to train close to home and enjoyed the camaraderie and support; however, some women felt that they should have received training when they did not, or felt that the training was inadequate. They said access to support services could be improved and suggested greater mentorship, job shadowing, and role modelling. Women voiced a specific need for money management training to make the transition from social assistance to salary-based income.

Ms. Stout reported that participants in her study generally thought their communities had improved because of the industry, which brought them training and jobs close to home. The majority said they would recommend industry careers to other Aboriginal women, indicating they felt they had gained economic independence because of the industry. Ms. Stout said a recommendation could be to highlight why Aboriginal women may want to consider this type of employment.

Except for one, all the women Ms. Stout interviewed had dependents. Her findings suggested that a lack of child care can act as an obstacle to single mothers and grandmothers benefiting from opportunities in the resource sectors. For workers who work shifts that require 40 days on and 40 days off, child care is a significant issue. The Ramp-Up study ranked child care as the fourth priority, with flexible arrangements ranked first.

While most of the women in Ms. Stout's study said they felt comfortable in the male-dominated work environment, some women in non-traditional positions talked about workplaces being unwelcoming. Inadequate bathroom facilities underground for menstruating woman was an issue, for example. Some experienced overt sexism and other expressions of men not welcoming women, as well as sexual harassment.

The Ramp-Up report showed that while male-dominated culture is challenging for women's careers, few employers were aware of this. Ms. Stout said some of her study participants felt they were treated equally, but others recounted pay issues. They spoke about work injuries and stress in traditional and non-traditional jobs: "The isolated conditions, the lack of female co-workers, and the inflexibility of travel make working at site for me personally and mentally difficult," one said.

Recommendations from Ms. Stout's study include developing training to support a more effective transition from income assistance into paid employment; tailoring money management workshops to the needs of Aboriginal women making this transition; implementing career and leadership development; introducing mandatory GBA training to employees and employers in the resource sectors; ensuring pay equity; developing Aboriginal awareness workshops to combat racism; and ensuring flexible child care is available to all who need it. The full report is available online.

Nadine Roach discussed her work with the Union of Ontario Indians, where women represent about 73% of employees and 42% of management positions. She said being involved in a non-traditional sector like forestry offers the potential for a higher wage. A job in forestry offered Ms. Roach mobility, and the union offered experience, a new environment, and the opportunity to meet diverse people and build confidence.

She said First Nation women "have a double whammy." As First Nations, access to capital, confidence, and mobility are all challenges.

"For Aboriginal women, these stem from our culture that we are to remain at home, or we're the support network for our partners or our children or our extended families." Because many of these sectors are predominantly male-populated, there needs to be a shift in attitudes and mindsets.

Ms. Roach said that as a new mother, she proposed to her employer that she would work half-time in the office and half-time at home. Her employer said she could either take the entire time off or come to work full-time.

"I had to work full-time and get my child care during the day. Within our organization, there is no option of top-ups for a woman going on leave to support her family. Maternity leave is never enough to support yourself and your child."

She suggested potential tools, such as building partnerships with the private sector and government, ensuring provincial and federal policy supports Aboriginal women, and developing appropriate certifications and professional designations.

"We may get on-the-job training to fill short-term gaps, but the mobility afterwards is next to nil," she said. Key opportunities include achieving employment equity, broadening perspective and skills, and ensuring skill retention in regions.

To make non-traditional industries more accessible, Ms. Roach recommended an education campaign and a recruitment strategy highlighting the benefits of non-traditional sectors. Other approaches could include incentives to choose a career in this sector; loan and grant programs specifically aimed at women; apprenticeships, on-the-job training, equipment and tool loans in the community; resources to purchase training or attend off-site training; reliable information for decision making regarding training and employment in non-traditional sectors; and financial management training.

Ms. Roach spoke about impact benefit agreements (IBAs) and making sure communities are aware of standard provisions included in these agreements. The community should include targets geared specifically to women, such as scholarships, targets for the representation of women in jobs supported by IBAs, special training, and mentorship programs.

Ms. Roach said the union is in the process of negotiating a new forestry agreement with the province. "One main theme is relationship building—without getting to know one another, then all this good creation of programs would fall to the wayside."

At the community level, she indicated that Aboriginal women would benefit from education; resources; literature that encourages a variety of career choices, including in the non-traditional sectors; success stories of women working in non-traditional careers; educational training camps; support from family and leaders; community goals and objectives; public communication, such as posters and videos; regional plans and impact benefit agreements that explicitly include women; pilot projects to test new approaches to enhancing women's economic participation; and flexible daycare programs.

Return to Table of Contents




Facilitated Discussion: Opportunities for Women in Non-Traditional Sectors

Facilitator
Beverley O'Neil

In response to a question about government assistance to engage women in non-traditional areas, a participant said that in an initiative in Manitoba, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development Inc. trained 12 Aboriginal women in an 11-month program for aircraft space engineering. Of the 12 trainees, 10 graduated. They went onto jobs earning $27 an hour and were given daycare support as well.

Participants identified a variety of barriers for women in non-traditional sectors, beginning with the difficult decision to leave home to pursue non-traditional work. Other barriers include the following:

As well, participants listed the following obstacles:

Participants listed potential strategies to combat these barriers:

A participant said the Canada Child Tax Benefit evolved from a $20-per-month family allowance to a program paying $279 per month per child under seven years old. She said a mother on social assistance with many children makes a moderate income on-reserve: "It doesn't provide an incentive for a man to work if a woman is sustainable in the family home. It curbs the cycle of women entrepreneurs." She said money management skills and bridging programs could help move women from social assistance.

Another participant said many jobs require bonding, but INAC does not help. "I got my own bonding, but it's taken me two years to go after it. In Manitoba, my company is the only 100% Aboriginal-owned that is bondable to compete for the big jobs. More Aboriginal businesses would come forward if they had help with this."

A number of participants said they felt rushed in the discussions. One suggested the agenda for the next day allow more time for serious discussion of key issues and said participants were not asked what they wanted on the agenda.

Ms. O'Neil said organizers would review the agenda for the next day. Ms. Madahbee and Ms. Clément thanked participants for their perspectives and recommendations.

Return to Table of Contents




Day 2: Welcoming Remarks and Recap of Day 1

Dawn Madahbee
Executive Member
National Aboriginal Economic Development Board

Nicole Ladouceur
Director General, Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Headquarters

Beverley O'Neil
Facilitator

Dawn Madahbee welcomed the group, noting the agenda had been revised to allow for more discussion. She reviewed some highlights from Day 1:

Nicole Ladouceur said she is honoured to be co-chairing with Ms. Madahbee and thanked participants for attending this meeting. She said INAC and its minister are proud of the Framework and are working seriously towards its implementation.

Beverley O'Neil reviewed ideas raised the previous day. She asked participants to think about indicators that should be included for measuring the Framework, as well as best practices, the role of government, and policy and program changes.

Return to Table of Contents




Context for Program Renewal and Engagement

Allan Clarke
Director General, Policy and Coordination Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Headquarters

Allan Clarke presented INAC's current suite of programs and recent investments in Aboriginal economic development.

He said, "What we're talking about now is how we make this vision real? How do we put the tires underneath this thing to make it move in the right direction?" INAC wants to address program design, delivery, operation, and accountability to make programs accessible, responsive, and sustainable. Mr. Clarke said there is unanimous recognition from stakeholders to build partnerships and capacity in INAC and within businesses and communities.

INAC has engaged extensively over the past months, and this engagement process will continue until the end of November 2010. By April 2011, INAC will implement some of the proposed changes. Mr. Clarke said INAC has heard many recommendations, including the need for flexible and responsive program funding and meaningful reporting to track progress and give useful value-added information to clients. INAC reporting tends to be about transactions and not outcomes: "It's not a reflection of the amount of activity going on across Canada."

Not only must INAC invest in the capacity of people on the ground with financial literacy and money management initiatives, but it also has to invest in financial institutions to ensure a strong AFI network.

"Let's invest deliberate time and attention in capacity building with clients," Mr. Clarke said. He said INAC must address its lack of experience, competency, and processes to deal with the pace and complexity of business relationships within Aboriginal communities.

In many of its programs, INAC does not collect gender data, which makes it difficult to track the ways in which programs are or are not serving the needs of male and female clients. Other gender-based issues include lack of financial equity and lack of access to business development support, including as a result of inadequate child care and elder care.

Mr. Clarke said accountability is a relationship. "Clients may be accountable for how money is spent, but we are also accountable." He said INAC is "very good about saying what we expect from you. Now is your chance to tell us what you expect from us."

Return to Table of Contents




Stakeholder Perspectives: Reflections on Aboriginal Business Development

Dawn Madahbee
Executive Member
National Aboriginal Economic Development Board

"An investment in Aboriginal women is an investment in the rich heritage of Canada's original peoples," said Dawn Madahbee. "It is the women who are the keepers and teachers of the Aboriginal culture. Aboriginal women play an integral role in community development and wellness." And women are the volunteers and the machinery behind community development.

Ms. Madahbee spoke about the Waubetek Business Development Corporation, an organization serving a territory of over 46,000 Aboriginal people of 27 First Nations. Waubetek works with First Nations and Métis, on- and off-reserve Aboriginal people. The organization is staffed completely by Aboriginal people and since its inception over 20 years ago has invested $44 million in over 1,100 entrepreneurs.

Ms. Madahbee said 26% of businesses in her region are solely owned by Aboriginal women. The success rate of these businesses is 95%. She reviewed statistics demonstrating the educational and social challenges Aboriginal women face but said there are significant national data gaps in the area of Aboriginal women and business.

An increasing number of skilled and educated Aboriginal women will make programs work if INAC makes the programs appropriate to their needs, she said. Women are committed to service and community and combine traditional values and principles with business. Investing in Aboriginal women supports female heads of households and creates great social impact. "We can address poverty directly by investing in Aboriginal women."

A participant said individual AFIs have collected statistics that will be compiled nationally. She said AFIs struggled in the past with evolving capital, but "we've made an investment into the First Nations Bank of Canada, which has now reached its benchmarks, achieved its goals, and is controlled by Aboriginal investors." She said women will shine in this next decade as they overcome systemic barriers and the impacts of the residential schools.

Another participant said women's average loan size is 50% that of men. "Women don't expand their businesses astronomically. They cautiously move forward." Their priorities are a vehicle, a home, savings, and enough to take care of their families. While the majority of staff at her organization do not have a degree, "we believe in the development of our staff. We have to look at hiring staff that don't necessarily have the education but are very suitable and can be trained internally. We have staff retention in our organization: when they join, they stay."

She said the statistics INAC needs should mirror the information that management needs to monitor success. She said INAC training should work more closely with institutions. "You can help to work holistically with the client to make it a meaningful one-stop shop to deal with self-confidence and bring them into the business environment."

Return to Table of Contents




Facilitated Discussion: Reflections on Aboriginal Business Development

Facilitator
Beverley O'Neil

Even though Aboriginal women are accessing the programs at a lower rate than men, "we're more likely to take less risk, but at the same time, our success rate is astronomically high," Beverley O'Neil said, adding that this "says something about the way we do business."

Groups discussed barriers for Aboriginal business development, noting that reserves have economic development officers, but off-reserve Aboriginal people do not. Obtaining security is another challenge. Participants said while business plan knowledge and resources are available, this information is not getting to people.

A participant said, "You have to understand women in your community to provide them with supports." Membertou hosts the Atlantic Aboriginal Women in Business Conference & Trade Show, which brings Aboriginal women together to focus on business development. They work on mock business plans. They have an incubator service, a business plaza where they subsidize rent and provide accounting support. The Membertou Entrepreneur Centre has created a certificate program that helps women understand bookkeeping, customer service, and proposal writing. While this is a best practice on-reserve, it is challenging to identify best practices off-reserve.

To preserve the great arts and craft work of Aboriginal artists, there should be a co-op or partnership to protect patent for Aboriginal artists across Canada and to reach out to Canadian society and business at large, one participant said.

Another said Aboriginal women are often shy and do not know how to write a business plan, "but they have business sense and can make a business go." She suggested one-day introductory training sessions in bookkeeping or proposal writing instead of week-long courses.

In 2007 the Assembly of First Nations created developed a culturally-relevant GBA tool to address help in analysing Aboriginal-focused policies and programs across Canada. A participant said INAC's GBA tool is not culturally relevant: "INAC should take a few lessons from our people because we've been there." She said there are too many procedures to follow, and because many INAC officers lack business experience, people give up in frustration.

She said, "Everybody keeps talking about poverty of our people. It was suggested maybe we could turn around and make that poverty into a social business fund that can help communities."

Another participant talked about the success in Third World countries where communities have risen out of poverty. "Prior to colonization, our communities did not have these poverty issues. Poverty has been imported into our communities and created through legislation and policies." Micro-credit social business can help eliminate poverty, using social business funds created through donor agencies. Concepts can include designing a business out of gaps in nursing needs, food security, education, housing, and loans, for example.

To increase the participation of Aboriginal women in the economy, "we have to identify a method to value the economic participation that is already happening but is not recognized because it's unpaid," a participant said. This includes personal support work, such as providing elder and child care, and in-kind contributions for volunteer work.

One group proposed changes to the current programs:

Participants said the delivery of government services should be centralized. "We shouldn't have to call five different places to get answers. That has an impact on productivity." Also, there must be a way to respond to those INAC staff who are rude, disrespectful, or disengaged: "We recommend giving the Aboriginal community access to an ongoing evaluation tool," like a confidential online form, to provide a way for INAC managers to be accountable to those they serve.

A participant said the government should sponsor an annual conference similar to the National Aboriginal Human Resource Conference and suggested a national Aboriginal women and business conference and achievement awards.

Another participant suggested developing a role-model program based on community business development best practices. For example, a program in Winnipeg involves professional Aboriginal business women providing speaking engagements directed towards Aboriginal youth, specifically girls. The new program would not be "just a pep talk program" but would include a model that shows what youth have to accomplish in education and financial awareness to get into business.

Another group said the mentorship program at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) should be extended. INAC and HRSDC could work together as partners on this. A participant said, "Success in any endeavour in life should not be dependent upon your postal code." The government has to develop a better awareness strategy for these programs because not all people look up government programs on the Internet. Government has to reach out to people, as it did with the H1N1 coverage.

"We hear a lot about whole-of-government approaches," the same participant said, but she suggested INAC work to serve as a federal role model for establishing interdepartmental partnerships. She said the problem with Correctional Service of Canada's reintegration process is that prisoners go back to the same environment with the same issues. There are examples of programs where prisoners move into a business environment. She suggested matching Aboriginal women coming out of prison with certain skills to businesses so that they can develop their skills.

Another participant said existing programs such as the Community Economic Development Program and the Community Economic Opportunities Program (CEOP) should be specifically targeted at women instead of at the crème de la crème of communities that have significant economic engines. Currently, these programs are not designed to support start-ups or beginning entrepreneurs.

The National Child Benefit Reinvestment Initiative must be revamped to link directly with women and to meet their needs. One group said the renewed programs must link better with other supports for women's economic participation such as social programming, for instance by bridging programs such as home-to-work transition with a capacity-building component of life skills, household management, and literacy. The group suggested revamping curriculum to include life skills, business education, and financial literacy.

Participants in this group also said agribusiness brings diversity. One idea in Saskatchewan is a saskatoon berry farm initiative that can be operated through an urban women's co-op. They said the government should recognize female livestock operators and the added value from livestock initiatives.

They called on government to review funding regimes, especially economic development formulas based on population. They said policy directives or circulars are not consistently used by government but rather are used as "slush funds because it's only enough money to promote five to 10 entrepreneurs." They called for government consistency in regional priorities that fit within the Framework.

A participant outlined best practices of which she was aware, including the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), whose Saskatchewan office was closed due to federal funding cuts. CESO ran a program for young women entrepreneurs, which was very successful and could be built upon through adding a revamped technology component. The organization also produced a training video that covered five modules: banking, investment opportunities, elder abuse, business development, and budget and household management. This training has been built, so why "reinvent the wheel if it's already in motion?"

This participant said the AWPI was good, but local rural communities had difficulty participating in urban initiatives designed to address a transient population base. She suggested having a revolving officer who goes into communities rather than sitting in a government office. The Aboriginal Human Resource Council should have a travelling component as well, she said.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is a potential partner that provides resources to non-profit groups. In Saskatchewan, resource companies doing natural resource exploration are negotiating impact benefit agreements. "If we can do some skill setting and have key negotiators who are women to facilitate these deals, this would be an excellent opportunity," she said.

Return to Table of Contents




Stakeholder Perspectives: Reflections on Community Economic Development and Lands and Environmental Management

Leonie Qaumariaq
Chief Executive Officer
Kakivak Association

Leonie Qaumariaq said Kakivak was established as the economic development arm of the Nunavut land claims region under their Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement, and serves 13 communities in her region, representing about half of Nunavut. She spoke about the challenges and expense of serving remote communities: for example, a round-trip flight to visit one community costs about $4,000.

Kakivak is a community economic development organization. When it first started, it promoted, but did not deliver, programs. Under a one-window approach, the organization now provides access for training and post-secondary education, supports child care centres, runs programs for youth and people with disabilities, and holds summer employment and science and technology programs. It provides funding for small tools and sewing machines, small and micro-business start-up and expansion funding, loan programs, tourism-related business funding, business counselling, management training support, and economic development training.

Ms. Qaumariaq said Kakivak coordinates with other organizations and federal departments "to maximize what the client would be able to get in terms of grants, contributions, and loans." She said 53 of 75 small tools grants were to Inuit women and two out of three development business loans were provided to businesses that are at least 51%-owned by Inuit women.

Ms. Qaumariaq said government funding has not increased in years and does not recognize the high costs of transportation or doing business in Nunavut. She said, "It costs so much to live in our region that there it is hard to even have money left over to save. There is a lack of personal assets to secure debt financing. Not a lot of people own their own homes, vehicles, or snowmobiles, so there's no collateral to start your own business. A lot of the Inuit don't have credit history."

There are issues related to food security, low-income jobs, and a high dependency rate—many children and single-parent families. Even though her organization supports daycares, they have long waiting lists, meaning many people have no access to affordable daycare.

Ms. Qaumariaq offered several solutions:

Return to Table of Contents




Facilitated Discussion: Reflections On Community Economic Development And Lands And Environmental Management

Facilitator
Beverley O'Neil

Participants in small group discussions listed barriers that exist:

The groups suggested recommendations:

Return to Table of Contents




Facilitated Discussion: Addressing Gaps in the Current Suite of Programs

Facilitator
Beverley O'Neil

Ms. O'Neil summarized the topics from the previous discussions and asked each small group to develop three priorities that should be the focus for the next one to two years. Each group presented its priorities back to the main group:

Group 1

  1. Child care
  2. Women business forums and conferences geared towards role modelling
  3. Business tool kits for women that help women find out where they could access child care and other things

Group 2

  1. Turn over funding dollars to financial Aboriginal agencies because they know more about Aboriginal businesses and community economic development issues. One participant said, "We can do a better job delivering it because at the end of the day we are still accountable to government agencies."
  2. Investigate why women are not getting ahead in the workforce, social issues, and business in general. "It's up to us to help encourage women to go into workforce, and we all have to learn to take baby steps to have confidence in business.
  3. Establish programs for women to grow in all areas of their lives "from start to finish. We will in turn empower our own relations around us."

Group 3

  1. Have more Aboriginal women business centres or entrepreneurial centres to focus on training and get women into business. Have these centres on- and off-reserve to work with women holistically, giving them confidence and providing opportunities for mentorship.
  2. Simplify program and information regarding programs, such as the application forms.
  3. Ensure equal access to programs on- and off-reserve.

Group 4

  1. INAC must get very strong data on women and give Aboriginal women access to that data.
  2. Highlight successes of Aboriginal women business owners and leaders.
  3. Review policies to ensure inclusion of Aboriginal women.
  4. Collect information from this round table and disseminate it to participants.
  5. Transfer delivery and control of programs to communities.

Group 5

  1. Establish bridging programs for women on- and off-reserve that will include measures to ensure adequate child care and transportation, as well as to address other barriers that prevent women from getting further training. The outcome would be the reduced number of women on social assistance.
  2. Create co-operatives for arts and crafts, housing, agriculture, affordable daycare and elder care. The outcome would be collaborative services.
  3. Increase urban access to programs designed for both on- and off-reserve. The outcome would be increased capacity and increased amount of money spent in those areas.
  4. Enhance friendship centre programs. The outcome would be an increased number of clients from urban centres.
  5. Embrace and include social economy. The outcome would be an increased number of jobs and services created that are meaningful and sustainable.
Return to Table of Contents




Facilitated Discussion: Measuring Success

Facilitator
Beverley O'Neil

Ms. O'Neil asked participants to come up with three key indicators or outcomes for Aboriginal women's successful participation in the economy. Participants mentioned a variety of indicators:

Participants asked how to truly evaluate the success of women. "Not every woman has to make a million-dollar company. Sometimes being able to buy Christmas presents that year is a success," one participant said. Another said women should stop setting up barriers. "Ladies, get a life. We should be proud of ourselves and help one another."

Return to Table of Contents




Next Steps: Directions for Moving Forward

Nicole Ladouceur
Director General, Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Headquarters

Beverley O'Neil
Facilitator

Beverley O'Neil encouraged participants to send in any ideas they have to INAC. She said the contact information is available on page 13 of the Renovating Programs in Support of Lands and Economic Development booklet.

In response to a participant's question about how community investments will work with ABDP, Nicole Ladouceur said she and her colleagues have agreed to take a principled approach to ensure maximum program results and outcomes. INAC will take advantage of efficiencies where possible. She said, "If it makes more business sense for the PSAB programs to take on some responsibilities or costs inherent in community investment programs, then we will make that shift."

Ms. Ladouceur spoke about the one-window approach. She said it does not make sense for clients to provide business plans and other requirements to ABDP and then make clients coordinate that process with community investment. Addressing off-reserve and on-reserve concerns, she said the economic benefits of doing business should be separate from whether clients are on- or off-reserve. She is working with colleagues to make the decision-making process as seamless as possible. Ms. Ladouceur said these sessions keep "bureaucrats on the right path to reform and challenge our thinking."

Return to Table of Contents




Closing Remarks

Allan Clarke
Director General, Policy and Coordination Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Headquarters

Dawn Madahbee
Executive Member
National Aboriginal Economic Development Board

Allan Clarke thanked all participants for their attendance. He said the notion of a differentiated approach to supporting Aboriginal economic development, which is a key part of the Framework, applies to gender. He said the Indian Act creates "incredible barriers." Canada has developed different mechanisms, such as self-government, to help overcome these barriers. "We have a lot of work to do to develop the same type of environment that most Canadians off-reserve have."

Mr. Clarke listed some recommendations that participants made to improve Aboriginal women's business development opportunities. Speaking to the importance of INAC acting as a broker across government departments, he said one thing INAC will do out of this session is to write a précis and send it to other departments.

He said INAC has done GBA on the Framework, and GBA will be part of program alignment going forward. Mr. Clarke thanked all the women's groups that had been involved in the discussions, the Elder, the co-chairs, the speakers, the facilitator, and Status of Women Canada for their support and enthusiasm.

Mr. Clarke announced that INAC had just made an announcement of an investment of $1 million over two years to develop and implement pilot projects to promote Aboriginal women's entrepreneurship. These projects will lay the groundwork to provide Aboriginal women entrepreneurs access to financial literacy training and access to business development tools and capital. The pilot projects will be undertaken in close collaboration with Aboriginal women's groups. This is the beginning of a process.

Dawn Madahbee reviewed the highlights from the discussions, saying there were "new ideas generated and some really common sense stuff—that's how women work. I like the fact that we've gone through giving thoughts to priorities. We have to help the government become more accountable for some of the programs." She said there are significant issues, such as homelessness, and that some of the recommendations will make a difference in these social issues. She said work on impact benefit agreements is powerful and can be done immediately to derive benefits.

It is important to ensure policies are relevant to women. Ms. Madahbee said she reviews programs with an Aboriginal peoples' lens, but "we need to make sure there's a gender lens put on as well." She said, "There's nothing stopping us. I'm going to share these ideas with others back home."

Ms. Madahbee said she was honoured to be part of this round table. Ms. Ladouceur thanked Elder Williams and the participants, saying she hopes this was an opportunity "for you to share not only with us but amongst yourselves." She said people are anxious to see results.

Return to Table of Contents




List of Participants

Return to Table of Contents




Footnote

1 The First Peoples Economic Growth Fund is a joint economic development initiative between the Manitoba government and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. The collaborative process between AMC and Government of Manitoba identified the following seven program areas for the fund : business plan assistance; skills development; entrepreneur loans; community economic expansion loans; joint venture investments; professional support after care; and resource and energy investment. (Return to source paragraph)

Date modified: