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

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October 29, 2010
Osoyoos, British Columbia

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.

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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 Youth Roundtable participants and prepared this final report. The report captures the discussions from the Youth 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.

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Opening Remarks and Welcome

Elder Modesta Betterton
Osoyoos Indian Band

Chief Clarence Louie
Osoyoos Indian Band

Elder Modesta Betterton welcomed the youth participants. "It's so good to see the next generation of leaders here. It makes me feel good. I'll see you in a few years as leaders in bands and in the province."

She told the youth they must think about the future: "They tell you that you can be anything you want to be. Yes, you can, if you work for it. The ones that work and study harder, it seems to stick more. It is like planting a new garden; you grow if you sow. You are half grown, like tender plants."

Chief Clarence Louie said economic development is the key to the future for Aboriginal youth. Having a job is not the be-all and end-all, but too many First Nation people are not working. He said some single mothers and people living with disabilities need help, but some of them work harder than anyone else.

"Old-timers are the hardest-working people on this reserve," Chief Louie said. "They go to bed early and get up early. One woman got up two hours earlier than others today to go to work. She has only one arm and works in the vineyard, and she's nearly 60."

In business, one cannot waste time. "Time is money—that's true. You can't run a business or hold a job on so-called Indian time. You'll be the first one fired if you show up late." Chief Louie said First Nations have to raise the bar and start acting like the grandparents. He said, "Real Indian time was when you got there early; latecomers were left standing on the shore and the canoes left. You have to get up early to hunt. We have to get rid of this modern laziness."

People come from all over to work in Osoyoos, and the employees represent 38 First Nations. "We probably employ more First Nation people here than anywhere in the nation," Chief Louie said.

He cautioned participants not to listen to leaders only at election time, but to watch what they do, because actions speak louder than words. "Watch where they spend their evenings and weekends which is when they're not being paid. Are they at the gatherings, ceremonies, sports?"

Chief Louie spoke about having a sense of pride. "When I travel and see an awesome Aboriginal hotel or golf course it gives me a sense of pride. I keep hearing that Aboriginal people are lazy, dirty, welfare burdens, drunks. I'm looking for the Natives who have pride of ownership. Do they keep their yards clean? That's the first impression people have of your family. If I drive by and see garbage outside and broken windows, I don't have a good impression."

Chief Louie collects slides of good and bad examples of the way houses and administration buildings are maintained. He saw a gas station in Alberta that had swear words spray-painted on it and said he would phone the Chief to tell him how embarrassing that is to all First Nations and ask him to get it cleaned up. "Little things do matter. Appearance matters. You don't have to dress fancy, but you better be presentable."

Chief Louie advised the youth to learn to introduce themselves, starting with their own language. "Use your Native name, then English. Give your nation, then band. I want to see our languages used. I don't want to see our languages dying out."

The National Aboriginal Economic Development Board has Inuit, Métis, and First Nation members selected by the federal government to give the government advice on economic development. In the last three decades incredible changes have taken place, Chief Louie said.

In the last 30 years, he has cut ribbons on many First Nation hotels. "Even this project [the Spirit Ridge Resort on Osoyoos Indian Band land] would not have happened without money from the Department of Indian Affairs."

Chief Louie said he is proud of First Nation youth who participate in sports. "We need to invest in youth programs and education and give the tools to overcome challenges. Most First Nations have over 50% unemployment. People on reserves have the lowest income per family in this country." He urged youth to go to school, graduate, and get jobs. "Aboriginal youth are far more unemployed than any other group."

During a tour of Canadian prisons with the Correctional Service of Canada, Chief Louie discovered that in the Prairie provinces, 70% of the prison population is Aboriginal. Very few had jobs before incarceration. "If you don't have a job, chances are you will be involved in crime."

He urged youth to find jobs they can be passionate about. First Nations have to make sure federal programs help Aboriginal youth, Chief Louie said. He praised the INAC-supported youth camps for Aboriginal youth; one takes place in Arizona and one in Canada. He praised competitive opportunities for youth, such as the boxing club in Osoyoos. He encouraged youth to be involved in the culture, even as spectators if they are unable to participate. "You are going to be taking over the reins in your communities. Some of you will be chiefs or council members. Don't just be business people; be proud of your culture and heritage," he said.

Audience Response System

Q1. Are you

Q2. What is your age range?

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Why We Are Here: Supporting Lands and Economic Development

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

Nicole Ladouceur said the last policy framework for Aboriginal economic development, from 1989, is severely outdated and must evolve. This year marks the first anniversary of the New Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development. The new framework responds to new and changing conditions, aims to leverage partnerships, targets opportunities, and is focused on results. "It's about ensuring that Aboriginal businesses have their fair share," she said.

Aboriginal youth are the fastest-growing segment of the population in the country. Approximately 400,000 Aboriginal youths will enter the job market in about 10 years. First Nations own or control more than 15 million hectares and Inuit more than 45 million hectares, which is "crucial in economic development," Ms. Ladouceur said.

"The stars are aligning" for action, she said. "The table is set for economic development, but there are issues." Interest from the private sector is growing, as is entrepreneurial leadership within First Nations. "Imagine you are a business; you'll look around and see this growing segment and want to key in."

Quoting the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Ms. Ladouceur said: ". . . forward-thinking companies who recognize that First Nation, Métis and Inuit partnerships make good business sense are taking the first steps by expanding engagement with these communities and spearheading cooperation." She quoted TD Bank Financial Group: "There is a rising recognition among Canadian companies that employing Aboriginal people and partnering with Aboriginal communities is a smart business strategy."

Ms. Ladouceur noted an emerging consensus that the legal and regulatory environment must drop barriers and that skilled labour must be improved. "The private sector is often willing to hire, but literacy is a big factor," she said. Another issue is deficits in capacity, so building capacity is being given attention. That means increasing tools to identify and pursue economic opportunities and improving community development programs and Aboriginal institutional arrangements, including support for long-term planning and ready access to experts.

The processes for land claims and Additions to Reserve must be accelerated, and INAC must operate at the speed of business. There are still deficits in infrastructure and limited financing options. "That's not the easiest to solve, but there are creative approaches," she said. Access to commercial capital must be improved and other forms of financing found.

Ms. Ladouceur outlined the dimensions of economic development: base, climate, and activation.

She said the base is about building economic potential with lands, natural resources, infrastructure, and people. She cited wind energy and the Ring of Fire as an example.

Climate involves creating the right economic conditions, which involves the legal and regulatory climate, governance and institutions, and fiscal capacity and arrangements. "Climate is a key area that government gets to play in," said Ms. Ladouceur. "We can't create mines or wind patterns, but we can work on this."

Activation refers to taking advantage of opportunities, including business development, community investment strategies, labour market development, private sector partnerships, and major project participation. Key questions are "how do you access your base, and what can climate do to support you?"

Ms. Ladouceur said that the new Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development has five strategic priorities:

She said the last priority is the underlying one. "Getting the federal family into the sandbox is a key role. Sometimes the best thing government can do is get out of the way."

Ms. Ladouceur identified INAC activities that support lands and economic development:

She also identified a number of guiding principles for moving forward with the new framework, including building on success, keeping what works and changing what does not, and recognizing and responding to unique needs and conditions.

"A one-size-fits all approach will no longer be the baseline approach," she said. She also mentioned strengthening capacity, pursuing partnerships, and promoting sustainability. For example, sometimes a person has a great idea but lacks the financial literacy tools to make it happen.

"When you think about creating or being part of a business, what are the challenges faced by youth?" Ms. Ladouceur asked. She asked participants where they see opportunities and what they need to enable them to participate. "The sky's the limit." She asked how INAC can help and where it should bring government departments to the table. "Help us make sure we've got it right," she said.

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Stan Wesley

Stan Wesley said he is pleased that INAC is recognizing that lands and economic development programs can be improved, and that the department is meeting with people all across the country asking for input.

"What are your dreams? What are your visions? What can we do to fix these programs?" he asked the participants. "This is personal. This impacts you and your families. The biggest resources in this room are yourselves. You are a role model in your community now."

Participants were divided into small discussion groups and asked to address a number of questions. A representative from each group reported back on the key points raised.

Summary of Breakout Discussion 1

Question: What does economic development mean to you? As the next generation of leaders, what can you bring to your community?

Participants defined and described economic development in many ways:

Audience Response System


Q4. What is your primary area of interest?

Q5. How active are you presently in economic development?

Q6. Have you ever tried to access government programs to support your participation in economic development?

Asked what they bring to their communities, the youth participants made the following comments:

Audience Response System

Q7. Have you ever tried to access bank financing to support your participation in economic development?

Q8. Have you ever taken part in mentoring, job shadowing or apprenticeship activities?

Q9. How familiar are you with INAC's current suite of economic development programs?

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Summary of Breakout Discussion 2

Question: Where do you see opportunities in your community and/or your region to become active in economic development?

Group participants identified several opportunities for youth in economic development:

Participants made a number of additional comments:

Participants made several recommendations:

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Summary of Breakout Discussion 3

Question: What do you need to enable you to participate and to increase your participation in those opportunities?

Group participants listed several items and recommendations that would facilitate their participation in economic development opportunities:

Audience Response System

Q10. How familiar are you with INAC's network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs)?

Q11. How likely would you be to approach an Aboriginal Financial Institution to seek financial assistance?

Q12. How important is it to you to receive job preparation skills in order to make the transition to employment?

Q13. How do you currently access job preparation resources?

Q14. What is the best way for youth to access INAC's economic development programs?

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Summary of Breakout Discussion 4

Question: How can INAC help you?

Group participants offered several suggestions:

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Summary of Themes

Stan Wesley
Jeff Cook

Jeff Cook said he had heard the youth calling for several things, and he listed the key points:

Stan Wesley said, "I'm hoping and praying for good leadership, and I'm encouraged. You guys are going to change the world."

He asked the participants, "If you were Chief what would be the first thing that you would do?" Participants' responses included: be transparent, create jobs, change the world, increase vision, inspire, go into the community and listen, and plan and implement were some of the ideas participants gave.

Wesley also asked, "Who and what role models did you have on economic development?" Participants said, "My grandpa," "My family," "Chief Clarence Louie," "My teacher," "My mom," "My boss," "My chief," "Myself," "Leaders in community and government."

"What field do you want to get into?" Wesley asked. Participants' responses included fishing, land management, resource management, rap, education, business, helping youth, law, social development, science, tourism, environment, language, lending, politics, economic development, trades, arts and helping people.

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Closing Remarks

Elder Modesta Betterton
Osoyoos Indian Band

Elder Modesta Betterton thanked the youth for their participation and their input and said she would pray for safe journeys for all youth and would ask the Creator to bless each and every one.

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List of Participants

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