THUNDER BAY – Business News – Aroland First Nation will host the Aroland Vision Quest from January 14th to 16th. The conference is designed to share information and skills. The Aroland Vision Quest Conference was initiated by members of the Aroland United Women’s Group (an incorporated entity under the umbrella of the Aroland First Nations Development Corp). The concept was devised from focus groups that indicated a need for structured support/guidance in pursuing career goals.
The conference key-note speakers and major workshops will be Livestreamed on NetNewsledger, to expand the reach of the Thunder Bay event.
The vision expressed by conference planners “Is to ensure the women and youth of the Matawa First Nations communities are provided with the information, tools and support systems needed to capitalize on the career opportunities that will arise from the prospecting/exploration & mining development.
- Provide information on career/business opportunities within the mining sector
- Help participants complete a self-assessment and identify personal career-related goals
- Creation of Personal Action Plans
- Provide information on the available support programs & services and identify any gaps for Matawa members
- To Emphasize the role of elders as mentors who provide guidance and protect the native values
The conference keynote speaker is Chief Clarence Louie from British Columbia. The Chief has a strong history of building his community into an economic power. At an address in Thunder Bay at Lakehead University, Chief Louie said, “I believe First Nations people have to make the economy their first priority. The best social program is a job.”
Chief Louie said, “$10.8 billion spend by the federal government by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs that 96 to 98 per cent are spent on social programs, and only a small amount on economic development. The current formula doesn’t work. The results are obvious”.
Since Clarence Louie was elected Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band in 1985, he has consistently emphasized economic development as a means to improve his peoples’ standard of living. Under his direction, the Band has become a multi-faceted corporation that owns and manages eight successful businesses, and provides employment for hundreds of citizens.
During Chief Louie’s tenure, the Band has made several achievements, including the successful negotiation of over 1,000 acres of lease developments, the acquisition of land for the Reserve, the purchase of a viable off-reserve business, and the financing of a major golf course development. His leadership is also responsible for the initiation of the Osoyoos Indian Taxation By-law, the financing and construction of a new pre-school, daycare and grade school, and the construction of a new Health Centre and Social Services building for the Band.
“When a First Nations community is poor, nobody really pays attention to them except for when they want to complain about them being welfare recipients or a burden on the tax system….But wherever you go where First Nations people are bringing millions of dollars into the economy of their region and they’re creating hundreds of jobs, there’s a better relationship. There’s a business relationship. I want to see business relationships between the native and non-native communities, not a dependency relationship or a pity relationship,” states the Osoyoos Chief.
Chief Louie has dedicated himself to breaking the cycle of government dependence that dictates life on so many of Canada’s aboriginal reserves. He has succeeded brilliantly. With just 460 members, the Osoyoos Indian Band owns more businesses per capita than any other First Nation in the country. It employs 700 people – most of them non-native – and contributes $40-million a year to the local economy.
There are some top speakers who will be sharing their ideas at the Aroland Vision Quest Career and Development Conference.