ARCHIVED - Renovating Programs in Support of Lands & Economic Development - Yukon Region Engagement Session
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Septembre 28, 2010
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
- Introductions and Agenda Overview
- Context for Program Renewal
- CanNor: Program Delivery in Yukon
- Reflections on Current Programming: What is Working? What is Not?
- Making Programs Work
- List of Participants
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.
Introductions and Agenda Overview
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:
- One participant said he had low expectations for the session, as he had been to several such meetings in the past, and "nothing seems to change." He noted that government representatives seemed to outnumber First Nation participants at this meeting, and noted that this demonstrates that many Aboriginal people have little faith in the process
- Endorsing these remarks, another participant said he was "here to see how things have changed." He called for a comprehensive meeting between Aboriginal leaders from across the North and representatives from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor). He asked that the record of this meeting show that he "won't be coming to any more of these meetings until that happens"
- A participant said she was attending because she wanted to comment on the burden of paperwork and "unnecessary conditions" placed on program funds
- Another participant expressed the hope that this meeting would result in "less words and more action on getting First Nation people working"
- A participant raised the issue of how CanNor communicates with INAC to address specific needs of northern First Nations, and how federal bureaucracies come to an understanding of First Nations needs in the Yukon
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.
Context for Program Renewal
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:
- Strengthening Aboriginal entrepreneurship
- Developing Aboriginal human capital
- Enhancing the value of Aboriginal assets
- Forging new partnerships
- Focusing on the role of the federal government
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:
- Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development
- Treasury Board Policy and Directive on Transfer Payments
- Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
- Results of program audits and evaluation
- Conditions and needs of clients
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.
Commenting on Mr. Egan's presentation, participants identified several priorities, including:
- The need for regional INAC staff to be able to sign off on projects within "a certain reasonable figure" to avoid delays in funding. Projects are often hampered by slow turnaround in funds due to risk-averse senior management who are unwilling to devolve responsibility to the local level
- The need to make the system work for smaller "mom and pop" operations; these types of businesses do not have the ability to take advantage of funding opportunities scaled to development corporations
- The Framework's failure to take into account the position of Yukon's self-governing First Nations—"We're always dealing with designs for on/off reserve, and that doesn't apply here—it's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole." INAC must work with CanNor to address the needs of self-governing First Nations
- The need for more grants, rather than loans, for those starting out in business, and the need to reduce the burden of paperwork. Busy entrepreneurs do not have time to spend on paperwork
- The need to align economic development with social programming—sustainable economic development requires addressing social ills such as the history of mission schools and "the whole system of oppression"
- The need to streamline programs so that "there's as little bureaucracy as possible"—participants expressed concern that despite the proposed renovation of funding programs, "bureaucrats are going to run the show"
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?"
CanNor: Program Delivery in Yukon
Regional Director, Yukon
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:
- Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED): $5 million over four years
- Community Adjustment Fund (CAF): $10.35 million over two years
- Aboriginal Economic Development programming: Community Economic Opportunities Program (CEOP), Community Support Services Program (CCSP), Aboriginal Business Canada, and community economic development
- Delivery agent for Infrastructure Canada
Mr. Wade invited comments from the floor.
Participants made the following comments:
- Many INAC programs are delivered under the Indian Act, "which handcuffs First Nations"
- The federal government negotiated these funds for two and a half years, and did not include self-governing First Nations in the negotiations
- Self-governing First Nations have no access to infrastructure money, but have "tenfold the responsibility" of on-reserve First Nations
- Aboriginal leaders from across the North need to meet and discuss broader policy issues to set a policy framework for economic development
- CanNor must take a role in building support for more localized control of funding programs—slow turnaround on funding requests and high demand for paperwork can be a "nightmare," a participant commented
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.
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.
Participants raised further concerns about the need to tie the delivery of programs to social impacts. Comments included:
- "Everything I've heard from the prime minister is about opening the North to economic development, nothing about social programs"
- The North is considered the bread basket of the South
- Mining has had a very negative impact on the community in Dawson—economic development can have a downside
- "We're tired of INAC showing up and asking about programs with no understanding of the North. That's what we need CanNor for"
- The term "stakeholder" is objectionable when it applies to self-governing First Nations, whose significant authority is not properly recognized
- The funding amounts under discussion are too small
- More personnel continuity is needed at INAC—"We do this every year and we very seldom see the same faces"
- It does not make sense to filter economic development funds through two government departments—empower First Nations by allowing them to administer the funds
- "Content is not the issue. It's delivery, and the policy behind it, that's the issue"
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:
- Program delivery is important, but should be discussed in the context of the issues raised. When a First Nation development corporation makes commitments, its reputation is on the line—"If it takes six months to a year to get approval, our reputation is flapping in the wind." Changes must be made to program delivery in areas such as education and economic development to make programs more manageable
- First Nations need flexibility to shift funds to priority areas
- INAC must be accountable for funding agendas
- The application process must be understandable, with clear expectations from the lender. "Don't drive people away with paperwork. Keep it transparent and honest right from the start"
- Provide an advocate to assist applicants in filling in forms and guide them as to which keywords funders look for in applications
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:
- Not everybody in First Nation communities has computer access
- The high level of illiteracy among First Nations complicates the issue. Some Aboriginal people are highly skilled in certain areas, but lack literacy skills—an electronic system would work for them if someone was available to help them use it
- The application process seems as if it was designed to make life difficult. First Nations rely on consultants to write applications, but "the same consultant writes the same application over and over again. That's highway robbery"
- A community profile could be updated and reused to avoid repetition
- A sample application could be posted online to simplify the process
- When a problem is found with one line in an application, INAC sends it back without reading on, and this process can be repeated many times—"Pick up the phone. Most of these things can be dealt with in a 15-minute phone call instead of sending it back"
- Funding agencies are too process-oriented, rather than client-oriented—"You're either serving the customer or you're having fun being a gatekeeper"
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:
- CanNor can help by making Yukon First Nations part of the discussion
- Deliver funding directly to mom and pop operations to empower them
- "Grass tops, not grass roots"—people at the community level should make the funding decisions
- There is a need for a community economic development officer who knows how to make projections and negotiate through the funding process
- Block funding is needed
- Funders should come into the community and get to know the people they work with—some communities are a long way from Whitehorse and do not have the privilege of going into town to deal with agencies directly
- Develop a "preparedness package" to prepare First Nations to take advantage of oil and gas development —"How do I get my people ready to deliver services when they do come?"
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:
- Build jobs that also build community and address social issues
- Programs must take existing human resources into account—there is no point creating jobs for which no one is qualified. "We find when people are properly trained, they're more likely to access economic opportunities"
- Health issues must be considered when developing policy, given the existence of long-term health issues related to development and poor government policy in the past—for example, Elders in Dawson have noted that toxic waste is buried over a significant portion of traditional territory
- Youth programming is needed, including a youth centre to engage young people in the community and address their educational needs—"One day, they're going to be our leaders"
- Self-government agreements dictate that First Nation economic aspirations be respected in traditional territory, but this is often ignored
- CanNor must be sensitive to the fact that Yukon First Nations are in a different position from Aboriginal people in other Northern territories, given their smaller percentage of the population. Aboriginal people are the majority in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and make up the dominant force in those territorial governments. "We [in the Yukon] don't have a territorial government that works for us"
- Recognition that self-governing First Nations are major players in their local economies is a necessity. Local businesses would not prosper without well-paying First Nation jobs, but when First Nations ask for "a piece of the pie," they are told they are looking for handouts
- Canada has a responsibility to live up to self-government agreements. When economic opportunities come to communities situated in traditional territories, there is an obligation to ensure that the First Nation is included—"Canada doesn't understand the agreement well enough to make it happen"
- First Nation communities should have a social network that protects them from the negative effects of economic development—"As soon as young people start to have disposable income, the drug trade moves in." First Nation youth must be educated about savings and pensions, and how to turn short-term well-paying jobs into future economic stability
- First Nations consider social implications when they develop programming—"If we set up a program on health, we ask, 'How is that going to affect economic development?' and vice versa. People who come into our communities need to think the same way"
- "We go through this process time and again, and there's no guarantee that any of this planning is going to survive. Some of us are getting tired of hearing our own voices. There has to be some way we can get control of the process. We're simply telling you what our hopes and objectives are; we have no way of knowing if you're going to carry them out"
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.
List of Participants
- Mary Jane Jim, Deputy Chief, Champagne/Aishihik First Nation
- Ron Daub, Executive Director, Vuntut Development Corporation
- Pauline Frost, Governance, Council of Yukon First Nations
- Luke Johnson, Councillor, Kluane First Nation
- Chief Joe Linklater, Yukon Rep, NAEDB/Chief Vuntut Gwitchen
- Mr. Sandy MacIntosh,Executive Director, Selkirk Development Corporation
- Sharon A. Peter, Executive Director, Nacho Nyak Dun Development Corporation
- Lorraine Stick, Councillor, Champagne/Aishihik First Nation
- Chief Eddie Taylor, Trondek Hwechin
- Gary Wilson, Director, Trondek Hwechin
- Christiane Boisjoly, Manager/Owner, Christiane Boisjoly & Associates Inc.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
- Joanne Wilkinson, Regional Director General
- Martin Egan, Director General
- Dana Landry, Governance Officer
- Alistair Maitland, FN Governance Officer
- Facilitator—Terence Wade
- Note Taker—Al Pope
Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
- Shari Borgford, Director of Operations
- Albert Drapeau, Aboriginal Economic Development Officer
- Kimberly Fairman, Director General, Operations
- Aneta Gillies, Economic Analyst
- Billie Mae Siver, Program Administrative Assistant
- Polly Thorp, Economic Development Officer
- Shannon Albisser, Regional Advisor
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