OTTAWA - Today the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Cando is launching a detailed guide to promote strong economic relations between municipalities and neighbouring First Nations communities. The "Stronger Together Toolkit" is a free, step-by-step resource for neighbouring Aboriginal and non-First Nation communities to develop lasting and productive relationships focused on joint economic development.
The Toolkit is an initiative of the First Nations-Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI). It is the result of a pilot project between six community partners who worked with both FCM and Cando to identify action items that would lead to joint economic action plans. Cando is a national, non-profit aboriginal organization focused on economic development in aboriginal communities.
One example of the partnership saw the Sawridge First Nation, the Town of Slave Lake and the Municipal District of Lesser Slave Lake working together to develop a joint tourism strategy with a focus on First Nations tourism. Chief Roland Twinn of the Sawridge First Nation is a strong proponent of the joint collaboration and is voicing his support for the toolkit and its impact on communities.
"Muster your courage; take the leap of faith," said Chief Twinn. "If we can pool our resources and our knowledge, we can come up with some unique solutions that we wouldn't have on our own. That alone is well worth it."
The toolkit includes background information, a step-by-step approach to setting up a joint initiative and a guide to building strong First Nations-municipal relationships. Close to 300 communities offered to be part of the initial pilot phase of the project.
Also included in the toolkit are detailed case studies on how others have used the joint planning process successfully. The partnership between the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, the Lac Seul First Nation and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug is one example that is highlightedin the toolkit. The three communities are developing a regional food distribution centre to serve northern communities.
"My experience is it takes time, patience and resilience to build successful partnerships: as municipalities we have a lot to offer and more to receive," says Vicki Blanchard, Economic Development Manager for the Municipality of Sioux Lookout.
The toolkit is available to all interested communities in English and in French. It can be downloaded at: www.fcm.ca/CEDItoolkit
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is the national voice of municipal government. In leading the municipal movement, FCM works to align federal and local priorities, recognizing that strong hometowns make for a strong Canada.
Cando is a national, membership-based, non-profit Aboriginal organization involved in community economic development with Aboriginal communities. Cando strengthens Aboriginal economies by providing training, certification and networking opportunities for economic development officers (EDOs) working in Aboriginal communities.