Economic Blueprint

Why did we develop a Nation-wide strategy?

In June 2006, the Anishinabek Nation Chiefs in Assembly passed resolution #2006/20, which called for the creation of an Anishinabek Nation Economic Strategy.  The development of an Anishinabek Nation-wide strategy was described as a means to capitalize on two key opportunities: the Chiefs expressed desire to see economic development as a priority; and a federal and provincial environment supportive of the development of a regional-based strategic frameworks that would facilitate economic opportunities and partnerships.  As a result the Anishinabek Nation Chiefs in Assembly directed that an Anishinabek Nation Economic Development Strategy be developed to support the Anishinabek Nation, community and individual participation in local, regional, national and international economies to generate revenue, support the creation and expansion of businesses, and to create jobs.  

In order to carry out the mandate from the Chiefs in Assembly to develop a Nation-wide strategy, the Union of Ontario Indians enlisted the support of a group of experts to work on this directive and develop the Nation’s economic strategy.  

Who Were the Experts?

First Nation people across this country are at a very exciting place in our contemporary history.  We are standing at the doorway of new opportunities.  What is just as exciting is that there are Aboriginal people who have the skills to help others grow and prosper.  Just a couple of decades ago, we could not say this was the case.

The following people generously shared their expertise and insight during the development of the Anishinabek Nation’s Economic Blueprint:

•    Former Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, Anishinabek Nation, Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario;

•    Raymond Martin; Co-Chair, Anishinabek Nation Economic Blueprint and member of Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, Ontario;

•    Dawn Madahbee, Co-Chair, Anishinbek Nation Economic Blueprint and member of Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation, Ontario;

•    Chief Clarence Louie, Osoyoos Indian Band, British Columbia

•    Bernd Christmas, Membertou First Nation, Hill and Knowlton, Nova Scotia;

•    David Tuccaro, Mikisew Cree Band, CEO, Tuccaro Inc., Alberta;

•    Jason Calla, Squamish First Nation, Fiscal Realities, British Columbia;

•    Rodney Nelson, Lakota Sioux, Conference Board of Canada, Ontario;

•    Bob Dickson, Lac Seul First Nation, Canadian Executive Services Organization, Ontario;

•    Professor John Burrows, Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, Ontario;

•    R. Martin Bayer, Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation, Weaver Simmons Law Firm, Ontario;

•    Ruth Williams, CEO, All Nations Trust Company, British Columbia;

•    Michael Mendelson, Caledon Institute for Social Policy, Ontario;

•    Beth Lewis, First Nations Comprehensive Community Planning Model, Dalhousie University, New Brunswick; and

•    William Dunning, Economic Research, Will Dunning Inc., Ontario

How was it developed?

To develop the Blueprint, Grand Council Chief Beaucage, the Co-Chairs of the planning committee, and senior staff within the Union of Ontario Indians met directly with the First Nation business/economic experts in two think tanks coordinated for this purpose.   Preliminary findings were presented and vetted with the Anishinabek Chiefs and Economic Development Officers (EDOs) to develop the final recommendations for this paper.  

What was the vision behind the Anishinabek Nation Economy Blueprint?

The Anishinabek people, First Nations and the Anishinabek Nation as a whole will achieve prosperity and well being through the active pursuit of economic development, business ownership, and employment creation.  Well-planned economic development will result in the elimination of poverty, creation of wealth, and economic prosperity for the Anishinabek, which will prove beneficial to all Canadians.  

What is the ‘Mission’ of the Economic Blueprint for the Anishinabek Nation?

Our economic Blueprint provides the foundation through which we work together to achieve economic growth at all levels within the Anishinabek Nation.  We will do this by:
•    Establishing an environment where we can take advantage of available socio-economic opportunities;
•    Promoting best practices for capacity, planning effectively, and implementing economic initiatives;
•    Participating and exercising influence, in the economy throughout our territory, within our regions, in Canada, and globally;
•    Reinvesting in our people, communities, institutions, and Nation; and
•    Inspiring confidence that we can succeed.

What is the First Nations Progression Model?

The Membertou First Nation has become a nationally recognized economic success story.  Bernd Christmas, who served as Chief Executive Officer and led the effort on behalf of the band emphasized that their strategy was not about jumping into the first available opportunity.  Instead they took a strategic approach to development, which he described as the First Nations Progression Model.  Adapted to the particular circumstances of First Nations communities and organizations this model can serve as a useful tool for those First Nations that are looking to get started on an economic journey, and to those First Nations that are already actively involved and want to move to the next level.

The First Nation Progression Model

1.    Capacity Building in financial and quality management
At this stage First Nations organizations such as the Union of Ontario Indians and/or individual First Nation communities are encouraged to focus on developing their capacities to manage an economic development process, particularly the financial & quality management aspects.  In Membertou’s case this included addressing issues related to leadership, accountability, policies, procedures and required systems.

2.    Preparing (planning) for economic development
After capacity is developed, preparation for economic development is the second step in the progression model.  This is where you would determine the level of planning needed at each level of the organization and determine how to link with community plans and strategies.  Of special consideration in this stage are Strategic Planning, Resource Allocation, Investment and Implementation planning.

3.    Pursuing Economic Development opportunities
The third step in the progression model is entitled Pursuing Economic Development opportunities.  It is only after First Nations, Anishinabek Nation, and/or UOI have developed capacity and have done the necessary planning that economic development projects should be pursued.  It is at this stage that specific economic partnerships are developed, agreements are negotiated, new ventures are undertaken, or expansion is considered.

So what are the recommendations from the Economic Blueprint?

The recommendations in this Blueprint are organized around the First Nations Progression Model that has been used successfully by the Membertou First Nation to create economic development success.  That model focuses on the three stage of building capacity, planning effectively and then engaging successfully in economic development.  The recommendations in this Blueprint put a process in place that supports a more strategic and long-term approach to economic development, and guide the work that needs to be undertaken at the First Nations, regional and Anishinabek Nation levels.  This Blueprint is intended to support and strengthen the work of individual First Nations, existing organizations and structures, First Nations entrepreneurs/businesses, and the Anishinabek Nation as a whole to build on economic development efforts throughout the Anishinabek Nation.

The Recommendations:

1.    Utilize the First Nation Progression Model as developed by the Membertou First Nation as a guide in preparing for economic development.

Step-One – Building local capacity in financial and quality management

2.    First Nations within the Anishinabek Nation need to make economic development a priority.

3.    Build on existing First Nation economic foundations and successes.

4.    Develop a communication strategy to consistently promote the Anishinabek Nation Economic Blueprint both internally within the Anishinabek Nation and externally.

5.    Seek ISO Certification to demonstrate good governance.

6.    Establish and report on Community Economic Scorecard.

7.    Foster a successful business environment amongst all Anishinabek people.

8.    Establish an Anishinabek Nation Economic Secretariat.

9.    Develop an Economic Institutional Capacity throughout the Anishinabek Nation.

10.    The Anishinabek Nation Chiefs Council on the Economy will be mandated to develop positions and undertake lobbying efforts to stimulate the Anishinabek economy.

Step Two – Preparing for Economic Development

11.     Develop and implement an Economic Development Strategy in each Anishinabek First Nation community.

12.     Develop and implement Anishinabek Human Resource Strategy.

13.     Develop and implement Land Use Plans to foster new development.

14.     Utilize Anishinabek traditional territorial lands for economic purposes.

15.     Develop and implement Anishinabek tax policies.

16.     Carry out feasibility and market studies prior to investment.

17.     Develop and utilize tools to access capital.

18.     Develop Investment Policies.

19.     Plan to participate in the regional, Anishinabek Nation and global economy.

Step Three – Pursuing Economic Development

20.     First Nations should seek out business opportunities throughout the Anishinabek Nation territory.

21.     Take advantage of the Federal (and now Provincial) Aboriginal Procurement Strategy.

How can I learn more about the Anishinabek Nation’s Economic Blueprint?

Click on the links below to download a PDF version of both the full version and summary version of the Economic Blueprint:

How can I help implement the Economic Blueprint in my own community?

The first step is to read and learn more about the specifics within the Economic Blueprint by reading through the strategy in full.  From there, community members are encouraged to approach their leadership and ask how the Blueprint is being implemented within their own community and how community members can participate in their community’s developing economy.  

What if a recommendation from the Blueprint doesn’t make sense for our community or if it doesn’t apply to our community?

The Blueprint’s recommendations are, just that… recommendations.  If a recommendation doesn’t fit well with your community or doesn’t apply, that particular recommendation does not need to be implemented within your community.  However virtually all communities could benefit from looking at how all the recommendations can be utilized and the rationale behind them.  Some communities may also find they have some of the recommendations accomplished, such as having a land use plan in place or a solid economic development plan in place.  It could still prove beneficial to do a strategic review of existing plans/strategies in place in the context of a broad community based economic strategy.

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