Economic Agreement To Boost Northwestern Ontario
SIOUX LOOKOUT, ON – Sioux Lookout, Lac Seul First Nation and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI, formerly Big Trout Lake), Ontario, have decided to collaborate on a joint project and will have access to funding and facilitation supports through the First Nations – Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) to advance their joint work.
In April 2014, representatives from the three communities were convened by CEDI and formed a working group. The group determined that they would collaborate on a regional, cooperative food and goods distribution centre which would be located at the Sioux Lookout Airport and help supply nutritious, fresh and affordable food and consumer goods to the region, especially focusing on remote northern communities.
Sioux Lookout and Lac Seul First Nation are already partnering on Keondaatiziying: How Will We Sustain Ourselves, a joint economic development conference held in the two communities on September 17-18, 2014, for the Treaty 3 and Treaty 9 areas in northwestern Ontario. They are excited to announce the regional distribution centre project as a next step in their collaboration along with partner KI.
Through CEDI, the three communities will have access to up to $48,000 in grants to advance their collaboration on the regional distribution centre by supporting enhanced capacity-building, a study tour and offsetting the travel costs involved in having a remote, fly-in community participate.
“The support provided by CEDI for this initiative is unique in its own way where an isolated, fly-in community is included in the process” states KI Council. “In most cases, fly-in communities are overlooked when economic development opportunities arise. First Nations in isolated locations have something to contribute towards regional economic development initiatives by partnering with interested municipalities including year-round accessible First Nations as is the case with this initiative.”
The three communities were first convened in November 2013 when they were selected as one of only six pairings of First Nations and adjacent municipalities across Canada to participate in the CEDI program. CEDI is a joint initiative of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Cando (Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers) and is funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).
CEDI builds capacity among participating First Nations and municipalities to do joint community economic development planning and projects. When neighbouring First Nations and municipalities collaborate, they can enhance their community-to-community relationship, make better use of scarce resources, create an improved climate for investment and tourism and have a stronger voice when approaching industry or other levels of government.
“This tripartite partnership will greatly enhance the health and cost effectiveness of food distribution in our local and remote regions of Northwestern Ontario”, said Lac Seul Chief Clifford Bull.
“By working together as a collective and with a clear direction and objective, we believe (the regional distribution centre) can be accomplished,” added KI Council.
Sioux Lookout Mayor Dennis Leney concluded, “The regional distribution centre concept is powerful and we want to thank CEDI for this opportunity. The project responds to the many government reports on the state of food insecurity and health in Ontario’s Far North communities which were raised again in the recently released Ontario Regional Report from the First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study”.
This economic development partnership builds on a 2012 Friendship Accord between Sioux Lookout and the Lac Seul, Slate Falls and Cat Lake First Nations. The Accord was developed through the sister program to CEDI, FCM’s First Nations – Municipal Community Infrastructure Partnership Program (CIPP).
The Municipality of Sioux Lookout is located in northwestern Ontario and connects over 30,000 people in 29 remote northern First Nations communities to health care, social, government and education services.
Cando is a national Aboriginal organization that supports Community Economic Development in Aboriginal communities across Canada through training, certification and services for its economic development officer (EDO) members. FCM has been the national voice of Canadian Municipalities since 1901 and provides advocacy for its more than 2,000 member municipalities while operating national and international municipal programming.