OTTAWA – Leader’s Ledger- The Northern Development Ministers’ Forum is an important vehicle for promoting social and economic development opportunities in the North, for expanding our partnerships, and for cultivating new ones. It is these partnerships that we can and must use to realize the true human and economic potential of our territories and our provinces’ northern regions.
Since Aboriginal men and women, families and communities are such vital components of those regions, we must make sure their governments and their organizations are part of the partnerships we forge here this week.
This spirit of collaboration has given us Canada’s Northern Strategy and the Aboriginal Framework for Economic Development. The Framework emphasizes strengthening entrepreneurship, enhancing the value of Aboriginal assets, forging new and effective partnerships to maximize economic development potential, developing Aboriginal human capital, and better focusing the role of the federal government.
In the Northern Strategy, we have focused the resources and energies of all federal departments and agencies on four objectives—protecting our northern sovereignty, responding to environmental challenges and opportunities in northern regions, providing Northerners with more control over their own destiny, and promoting economic and social development.
Without strong, stable economies, northern communities cannot flourish. That’s why—together with our partners throughout the North — we in the federal government, through Canada’s Northern Strategy, and other programs and initiatives have made targeted investments that will spur economic development and growth in northern regions across the country.
With the support and partnership of the northern ministers and of all northerners, we’re going to keep making these kinds of significant, targeted, investments.
Prime Minister Harper stressed the importance of northern economic development in his remarks at the recent Crown–First Nations Gathering. He spoke about the demand for labour in northern regions and the critical role First Nation men and women will play to meet that demand. He spoke of the vast size of the emerging generation of Aboriginal boys and girls, and how they’ll need the proper education and training to seize the opportunities of expanding northern economies. Indeed, he spoke of how Canada will reach its true economic potential only when we in this country take the steps necessary to ensure that Aboriginal peoples reach their true human potential.
After all, many of the ministers at the forum are responsible not only for northern development in their jurisdictions but also Aboriginal affairs. Many Aboriginal men and women and families have their homes in the territories and in northern regions of the provinces. Truly effective partnerships, therefore, must include them.
John Duncan MP
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development