Encouraging economic partnerships

Special gathering held on Stz'uminus First Nations territory looked at the importance of partnerships.

The importance of economic partnerships between First Nations and non-First Nations communities and industry was at the forefront of discussion at a special gathering held on Stz’uminus First Nations territory on March 23.

The event featured Chief Kim Baird of the Tsawassen First Nation and Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band, who discussed projects their respective communities have undertaken through partnership with various sectors and businesses.

“It makes business sense to have a relationship with First Nations,” Louie said. “There are more First Nations in this province than anywhere in the country. That says to me that B.C. should be at the forefront of the First Nation/non-First Nation business relationship.”

According to Louie, the Osoyoos Indian Band has helped generate revenue through partnerships with Jackson-Triggs Winery and helped create jobs by working with the government to build a provincial prison on reserve land. He said the band contributes $40 million to the local economy and is one of the biggest employers in the region.

“When we were poor, nobody paid attention to us,” Louie said. “It makes no sense to have a poor neighbor.”

Louie stressed that economic development needs to be on the top of the list and that the Stz’uminus First Nation must be prepared to possibly incur debt in the process.

“It’s better to have debt and to have jobs then to have no debt and have a lot of welfare,” he said.

Ray Gauthier, CEO of the Coast Salish Development Corporation (the economic development agency of the Stz’uminus First Nation), said the gathering was an opportunity to open the doors for discussion on all sides of the spectrum.

“We see ourselves as a municipality in the same way that the Town of Ladysmith is a municipality … all of the resources that are out there, we all need access to; we just have to find a way where there’s a fair and equitable distribution of those assets,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ll accomplish a lot more if we’re working together.”

The nationcurrently has a few revenue-generating projects on the go, such as the Husky Gas Station, land leasing and its own forestry company. Another recent example is the Coast Salish Development Corp.’s $5.7-million stake in the Fortis BC liquefied gas storage facility on Mt. Hayes, just outside of Ladysmith.

Stz’uminus Chief John Elliot said their doors continue to be open for business, and the CSDC is working towards developing a housing project and golf course on the “four corners” lot, located at the Trans-Canada Highway and Oyster Sto-Lo Road.

“It’s going to bring opportunities, it’s going to bring jobs, it’s going to bring revenue into the nation, and so we don’t have to be making phone calls to ask for money, we’ll be creating our own,” Elliot said. “So many of our students are in university, and we need to build a place for them to come home and work and have a place to grow their families.”

Mayor Rob Hutchins, who was in attendance at the gathering, said he feels the partnerships being worked towards today come nearly a century too late.

“We basically worked in isolation and walked down the road into the future separately,” he said. “In the last six or seven years, we’ve done far more work, but it wasn’t until 2007, 103 years after the Town’s incorporation, that we actually set up a formal arrangement for working together. We should have undertaken this decades ago, so we’re playing catch up.”

The Town of Ladysmith and Stz’uminus First Nation signed a Community Accord in 2007 and are now working towards a draft Memorandum of Understanding, which will more specifically outline how the two communities can best work together.

“By working together in a meaningful way in terms of sharing resources, sharing expertise, working and creating actual partnerships for economic development, it will benefit both,” Hutchins said.

Just Posted

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read