ARCHIVED - Renovating Programs in Support of Lands & Economic Development - Yukon Region Engagement Session

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Septembre 28, 2010
Whitehorse, Yukon

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 Yukon regional stakeholder engagement session and prepared this final report. The report captures the discussions from the Yukon session 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.

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Introductions and Agenda Overview

Facilitator
Terence Wade

The purpose of the meeting was to canvass First Nation leaders and stakeholders to ascertain their views on renovating and renewing programs to enhance delivery of economic development services in Aboriginal communities in Yukon. Input was sought on how to renovate programs to increase First Nation participation in the economy, in keeping with the objectives of the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Development.

Terence Wade welcomed participants and explained that First Nation Elder Annie Smith, who had planned to lead the opening prayer, was unable to attend because of a death in her family. In lieu of the traditional prayer, he invited participants to take a moment of silent reflection. He provided a brief overview of the day's agenda and asked participants to introduce themselves, inviting them to comment on their expectations for the meeting.

Participants made several comments during introductions:

Kimberly Fairman, Director General of Operations for CanNor, said that as a Northern Aboriginal person in a senior management position, she brings a similar perspective to that being voiced by First Nation participants. She said CanNor brings First Nations people forward as advocates for socio-economic development. Given its Northern focus, CanNor is able to look at regional development from a local perspective by identifying issues, opportunities, and visions for a successful future. She said INAC takes the lead on economic development policy.

Wade addressed participants' expressions of concern about the meeting process, saying the report would accurately reflect participants' input into how best to deliver economic development programs to Yukon First Nations. He said the purpose of this meeting was to gather input from First Nation representatives on improving the delivery of funding programs to meet specific needs in the Yukon.

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Context for Program Renewal

Speaker
Martin Egan
Director General, Addition to Reserves and Operational Policy
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – Headquarters

Martin Egan presented the updated policy framework for renovating programs in support of Aboriginal economic development.

The last policy framework was released in 1989 and addressed the need to create new opportunities and new ways to support Aboriginal business development. Mr. Egan identified the following strategic priorities:

Mr. Egan said former Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Chuck Strahl, committed $200 million to new investments over the next four years to "support greater access to and control over reserve lands, improved access to capital, enhanced awareness of Aboriginal procurement opportunities, and improved coordination among federal partners."

Mr. Egan listed the key drivers of change:

Mr. Egan said the government's aim is to "keep what works and throw out what doesn't work," adding that INAC realizes that "the one-size-fits-all approach won't work." He said there would be more multi-year funding agreements, and noted the need to "reduce the reporting burden by focusing on outcomes rather than activities." He invited questions and comments from the floor.

Discussion

Commenting on Mr. Egan's presentation, participants identified several priorities, including:

Mr. Wade said decision making must filter down to the community level. He noted that at previous meetings, participants' level of knowledge about available funding programs was around 20%–25%. He asked participants to indicate their awareness of certain programs with a show of hands. There was limited response.

A participant commented, "It's not that we haven't heard of them, but are they relevant to what we're doing?"

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CanNor: Program Delivery in Yukon

Speaker
Shari Borgford
Regional Director, Yukon
CanNor

Shari Borgfordpresented an overview of CanNor, beginning with its launch in 2009. CanNor's mandate is to promote a strategic approach to northern economic development. It is the first federal department headquartered in the North—Iqaluit—and its mandate and advocacy role is exclusive to the North. CanNor aims to strengthen projects through the federal regulatory process.

Working directly with Aboriginal representatives, territorial governments, partners, communities, and stakeholders, CanNor is focused on cutting through bureaucracy, said Borgford. CanNor administers the following initiatives:

Mr. Wade invited comments from the floor.

Discussion

Participants made the following comments:

Some participants expressed frustration about this meeting's narrow focus on program renewal rather than broader policy issues. One participant said, "First Nations need to be involved in creating the agenda. For you to say 'That's not what we're talking about'—that's not acceptable."

Mr. Egan said he would commit to "take what we have heard back to cabinet" for consideration.

Ms. Fairman said the idea of a policy meeting was interesting, and she would like an opportunity to approach INAC about how pan-Northern Aboriginal talks could be achieved.

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Reflections on Current Programming: What is Working? What is Not?

Mr. Wade told participants he would deliver the message that economic development must go hand in hand with social policy. He said while he respected participants' desire to have broader policy issues addressed, this meeting was "one window" for First Nations to offer input into program renewal and he invited participants to concentrate on that focus. He asked them to identify areas for change, noting that this meeting is their opportunity to inform the next five-year cycle.

Mr. Wade also said he would take the message back to government regarding the need for joint policy talks between Northern Aboriginal leaders.

Plenary Discussion

Participants raised further concerns about the need to tie the delivery of programs to social impacts. Comments included:

Opportunities to Address Capacity Requirements

Wade said he recognized the necessity of consulting with First Nations on the agenda for meetings such as this one, addressing the INAC/CanNor relationship, and considering the specific needs of self-governing First Nations.

Participants made the following comments:

Mr. Wade asked participants for their opinions on an electronic application process, noting that this system provides transparency because applications can be tracked. Participants made the following comments:

Infrastructure Challenges and Options

Mr. Wade asked participants for their views on delivery systems, noting the mix of potential delivery systems. He asked them to consider who should administer and deliver funding programs. Participants gave the following responses:

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Making Programs Work

Fairman said CanNor has an advocacy role with INAC on behalf of Aboriginal people, noting "the more we know about First Nation concerns in the North, the better we can deliver."

A participant asked whether the fact that CanNor serves both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities means that Aboriginal funding programs would now be available to everyone.

Ms.Fairman said the programs would continue to be specific to First Nations.

Participants identified the need to address the social aspect of economic development. Although imminent large scale oil and gas development in the North could mean economic opportunities for First Nation citizens, "what happens when the boom goes bust?"

Participants noted the importance of addressing issues such as housing, health, and infrastructure. "When you look at the statistics in the Yukon, [First Nations] have a very young population, but there's very little funding for education. The gun is loaded and waiting to go off."

Participants cited mining as an example of economic development in First Nation territory that does not always serve the community well. An understanding of current social conditions is necessary to serve as a benchmark for progress.

"It's a matter of how we measure outcome," said Mr. Wade. He said participants seemed to be calling for the monitoring of socio-economic conditions in First Nation communities as they relate to program delivery rather than measuring a specific program's success.

Participants made the following comments:

Mr. Wade said that as a facilitator, he has no expectations of what must come out of the meeting—his role is to hear what participants have to say and report it faithfully back to the client. He asked participants to discuss the issues of how to measure success in their communities and how Common Experience Payments (CEP) fit into the picture.

A participant noted that self-governing First Nations are not eligible for CEP, having instead negotiated a lump-sum payment for residential school survivors that the First Nations administer themselves. He asked what would happen when CEP payments are increased.

A CanNor representative said self-governing First Nations would be able to renegotiate the lump sum amounts when payments increase.

A participant said one measure of success would be having young people educated in their communities, or choosing to return to their communities if forced to leave to get an education.

Another participant said reporting on progress as a means of measuring success can be a burden, and this capacity could go into other initiatives.

Mr. Wadethanked participants for their input and repeated his commitment to take participants' comments back to the client.

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List of Participants

Stakeholders

Independent

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)

Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)

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