Northern Minister’s Conference Wraps Up

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THUNDER BAY – Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for northern development across Canada have renewed and refreshed their commitment to collaborative action on social, economic and fiscal issues of importance to the North.

Hosted in Thunder Bay by Ontario Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle, this year’s two-day Northern Development Ministers Forum (NDMF) focused on the theme, “Seizing the Future: Taking Hold of Our Economic Opportunities.”

Ministers received progress reports and presentations on their current priority projects.

Minister Gravelle said the theme was particularly appropriate for this year’s Forum.

“Northerners are strong, resilient people who are adept at taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them.  We must ensure that our northern communities are well-positioned to identify and seize economic opportunities when they arise, so we can continue to thrive in this new global economy.”

Forum presentations and discussions revolved around three ongoing priority projects from 2009: Changing Northern Economies, Northern Infrastructure, and Climate Change Priority Project: Best Practices Boreal Forest Management. In addition, a new priority project for 2010, Aboriginal Economy – Youth Entrepreneurship, was presented. Through studies, surveys and joint actions, member ministries gained insights as to how entrepreneurship can be supported and nurtured within Aboriginal economies.

Ministers also approved a 2010-2012 Focus North action plan that launches a collaborative process to develop new priority projects for 2011 and beyond.

Newfoundland and Labrador will be hosting the NDMF for 2011. The Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Labrador Affairs, Newfoundland and Labrador, announced next year’s forum will be held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, August 22-24, 2011.

Hickey introduced the 2011 Forum theme Northern Directions: An Evaluation of Strategic Planning in Northern Canada. Ministers will have an opportunity to exchange ideas on the effectiveness and future models of northern strategic planning.

The NDMF was established in 2001 to advance the diverse and common interests of northerners and to raise awareness of the accomplishments, contributions and potential of the North.

This forum is held annually, rotating among participating jurisdictions. It provides an opportunity for ministers to monitor progress on their ongoing action plan and consider new joint initiatives. In past conferences, ministers have explored workforce attraction and retention, a transportation investment strategy, an innovation agenda, education and training, initiatives to maximize economic and social impacts from major projects, and other priorities for the North. Reports on these and other NDMF projects are available on the Focus North website at www.focusnorth.ca.

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