’It’s not just about indigenous communities getting better jobs or employment or business. It’s really about Canada… If we don’t get it right, those kids are going to be pissed off.
There is no denying that Indigenous economies are growing and contributing to Canada’s fortunes.
But Cadmus Delorme, a former chief of the Cowesses First Nation in Saskatchewan, advised participants to take things slow. He said there is an urgency to tackle economic reconciliation work, but it comes at the cost of avoiding the truth of Indigenous peoples’ history with Canada and government mechanisms that loom large over Indigenous advancement.
Delorme made his comments during the capitalization of the Indigenous Economy Group, which was included as part of the Indigenomics Bay Street Conference, which concluded on November 23 in Toronto. The conference attracted tribal leaders and government officials from the corporate and private sectors.
The panel’s topic was to explore the value of indigenous economies and how that value is best determined.
Delorme is the President and CEO of OneHoop, a consulting firm focused on building relationships between the corporate sector, governments and indigenous communities.
„As indigenous governing bodies, we’ve been really welcome in this economy since the 1990s,” Delorme said.
„For the past three decades we’ve only been at full, respectable potential as part of economic growth. But even then it’s been constrained.
Delorme, the Indian Act, a law that gives federal government control over everything from Indian status to reservation lands and communal money, is not economically friendly.
„That’s because Canadian banking law conflicts with Indian law,” he said. „That’s why indigenous governing bodies see more danger from a tribal mentality.”
He said many decision-makers in Canada are eager to partner with aboriginals to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, but Delorme said there is a limit to reconciliation without doing the work to understand the truth at its foundation. .
He said representatives of corporations and governments were not being told the truth about Indigenous peoples and Canada’s history.
„So sometimes we move too quickly to reconciliation and our partnership,” he said. „We don’t spend enough time on the truth.”
And Delorme says tribes need to do their own reconciliation work.
„It’s not 94 calls to action,” he said. „But we inherited our pain. Now we are responsible for our own healing journey,” he said.
„Sometimes when you try to talk only with your nations about economic and capitalization growth, we tend to block it because of mistrust.”
Bernd Christmas, partner at Longhouse Capital Partners, said that in addition to truth, the word „trust” should also be included when discussing the capitalization of the domestic economy.
„We have to have confidence in the boardrooms, to have confidence in getting these deals done,” said the MemberTwo First Nation member in Nova Scotia.
„You have to have faith to say these are our contracts. It’s our Creator-given right to engage in these things.
If suitable contracts are not available here, domestic businesses can think beyond the country’s borders, Christmas said.
„If it’s not in Canada, you go global,” he said. „In the world market, they’re looking for deals. They’re looking for really good deals. Resource extraction is a big thing for Canada. Energy and, obviously, infrastructure.
Justin Bourque, president of Athabasca Indigenous Investments (AII), said Indigenous investors must take a different approach than non-Indigenous investors.
„In the Western world, their investments are made to create income and value for shareholders,” said Borg, who oversees AII, which includes 23 indigenous communities in Alberta, which bought seven pipelines.
„Partners are reinvesting. In the native phase, we don’t always get that opportunity because that value we create in these investments goes into replacing homes and critical infrastructure and improving our communities.
„Our shareholders are our people. So, we don’t always get the opportunity to take an investment opportunity and multiply it back into the market because we have to take care of today’s needs for our shareholders and our people.
The panel included Shawn Sounias, Director of Indigenous Relations for Farm Credit Canada.
Sounias said that all concerned should take necessary steps to ensure that the indigenous economy succeeds across the country.
„If we don’t get this right, those kids will have nothing when they graduate high school,” he said. „They’re going to be in their communities underserved in terms of jobs and economic development. It’s not just about Indigenous communities getting better jobs or employment or business. It’s really about Canada… If we don’t get it right, those kids are going to be angry.
Sam Laskaris is Windspeaker.com’s Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) reporter. The LJI program is funded by the Government of Canada.
„Oddany rozwiązywacz problemów. Przyjazny hipsterom praktykant bekonu. Miłośnik kawy. Nieuleczalny introwertyk. Student.