I wasn’t sure what to expect from Chris Warkentin when he got up to the podium and the title of his presentation “Fostering Opportunities for Canada’s First Nations and Canada’s North” lead me to believe this was going to be just another politic speech. I was very pleasantly surprised. I love a good story and I totally believe energy goes where attention flows so I was excited to hear that in Mr. Warkentin’s role as Chair of the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Committee he made a conscious choice to focus on First Nation Success stories.
The lessons learned and the stories shared touched my heart. I did not know that there was no requirement for education, or teacher credentials on First Nation reserves. How to set people up for failure! In one First Nations community the homes are now individually owned. The community had made a conscious decision to participate in the local economy with investment in not only businesses and real estate but it sounded like they invested in the people as well. As I understand it one of the first steps down this road is transparency and that is HUGE! Knowledge breeds certainty and certainty allows investment.
Another thing I learned was the Indian Act often holds the people back. It requires them to ask for pretty much everything, to open a business, to build or renovate a home, and they need to ask not their local municipality but Ottawa. How frustrating. These days if you want to get anything done you need to work at the speed of business rather than at the speed of Ottawa.
These were wonderful success stories. The need for showcasing these successes is critical, as success breeds success. I certainly wasn’t expecting to enjoy Chris’s speech as much as I did, I just wish that all Canadians would hear these stories. We could all learn from them.
Written on behalf of GPRC CRI:This is the 8th in a series of posts by Janet highlighting the speakers from the 2014 Growing the North Conference.