CANDO President's Remarks
My name is Angie Stewart and I am from the Nisga'a nation in British Columbia. I am an economic development officer and am also the first elected woman President for the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers.
Professors Lendsay and Wuttunee provided us with a thorough examination of early Aboriginal economic activity, tracing its development and listing the influencing factors such as government and market forces. They also provide comparative approaches for future relationships which include the cost of the status quo or a renewed Canadian - Aboriginal relationship.
You heard Mr. McCallum tell us about the high cost of doing nothing and that an investment in the Aboriginal community today, will pay dividends tomorrow. He calls on corporate Canada to take note of the messages in the Royal Commission's work.
Professor Wien conveyed the plan envisioned by the Royal Commission on a renewed economic relationship between Canada and the Aboriginal community - the nine steps to rebuild Aboriginal economies.
Mr. Coffey illustrates ways in which both corporate and Aboriginal communities can partner to work toward mutually beneficial goals. He reminds us that private companies and corporate Canada can begin to do what makes good business sense - namely to provide business and employment opportunities to Aboriginal peoples.
Professor Newhouse reminds us that Aboriginal people were hindered from economic activity by the Indian Act, by public policy and by public attitude. But as you heard, business and profit are not incompatible with traditional Aboriginal values and I can tell you that we as Aboriginal people of this country are ready and able to build our economies and build our communities.
The Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers, or CANDO, is just what the title implies; an organization designed to advance Aboriginal economic development officers or EDOs. CANDO was created in 1990 by EDOs who work in communities across Canada, who strive to improve the standard of living, to create opportunities with which to prosper, and to contribute to the restoration of dignity in our communities. Our only purpose as an organization is to provide support to these people.
We are grass roots, member driven and community focused. And as Professor Newhouse inferred, we have, until recently, been hindered from participating in the building of our Aboriginal economies - we have some catching-up to do, but we are creative, industrious and driven.
We will succeed in this desire to build, and we invite you, Corporate Canada, to participate with us and all orders of government in the building of our economies and our communities. That is why we are here today and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples has provided us with a sound and comprehensive plan.
You might ask yourselves - why participate and that is a fair question.
We have a dream, we have a vision - my vision is the building of safe, prosperous and harmonious communities, communities which inevitably will contribute to the greater Canadian fabric - and that is why you should have an interest.
I believe that while the dream exists, the true challenge is realizing that dream. It is in partnership I believe, that this challenge is best met. I concur with the Commission that economic development is a key component in the building we must do. It is through the development of economies that we will best be able to participate, create and contribute and it is partnership that can supply the tools necessary to meet this challenge
We also believe that it is through education that we can best prepare our people to take the reins of development and maximize economic success. The world of economic development is fast becoming more and more complex in the 1990s and as the Royal Commission correctly assesses, the education levels in Aboriginal communities will need to increase to deal with the complexities of modern economic development.
CANDO has been engaged in educational activities in a broad way. We have held regional training workshops across Canada to provide on site training to the men and women working in economic development. We have also brought corporate leaders and the Aboriginal community together in an effort to exchange an understanding on common economic goals. We brought Aboriginal leadership together through a Harvard University project to convey the importance of economic development and the role that political leadership has in providing a conducive atmosphere.
Our most ambitious challenge is a project we are currently working hard to promote and a project which will have a mutually beneficial impact for both the Aboriginal community and corporate Canada. For the first time in this country, we are poised to offer Aboriginal youth with a new career choice and to recognize through certification EDOs currently working in Aboriginal communities. In partnership with the Government of Canada and with the participation of our educational partners, CANDO has developed Canada's first Aboriginal economic development certification program. Young Aboriginal students searching for a career can now choose a career as a Certified Economic developer (CED) an area which affords the best opportunities to find employment in the community. Secondly, this program offers those already employed in the economic development area with enhanced skills and recognition and credibility for those skills.
This program not only offers communities with enhanced economic opportunity through skilled labour, but equally offers industry with skilled and knowledgeable negotiating partners. Any Aboriginal Chief and Council working on a development agreement with industry, will have community based expertise on hand.
While the Government of Canada has provided resources for the development of this program, ongoing success will only be realized through continued support, active participation, and partnerships. Certification provides corporate Canada with an excellent vehicle for stronger and improved working relationships with Aboriginal communities. Complimenting this initiative is the CANDO National Indigenous Economic Education Fund. In partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada, a charitable fund has been established to provide education and training opportunities to economic development officers working in Aboriginal communities across Canada. As well, CANDO offers regional training workshops to provide EDOs with the skills necessary to do the best job possible. Because these are regional, they also offer an excellent opportunity to tailor the training to the local needs. These training workshops also provide an opportunity for corporate and industry interests to access individuals in the community who are engaged in the important work of building our economies.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to thank you for taking the time today to listen and question. We have presented you a picture, one which reveals the high costs of maintaining the status quo - and one which reveals opportunity to forge a new relationship, a call to action and a call which makes good business sense. We are inviting you to participate in the building of our economies and the building of our communities. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples has compiled the most comprehensive plan in Canadian/Aborignal history. It is a plan garnered from historical and community realities and a prescription for successful communities which will contribute to this great confederation. I encourage the Government of Canada to take this plan seriously, to act now, and I encourage you, corporate Canada to join with us in the building of communities which will prosper in and contribute to this great nation we call Canada.