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Volume 3 - Issue 1 ///// JAN/FEB 2014


An answer to on-reserve job creation?






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///// COVER STORY 16 medical marijuana FARMING VOLUME


/FEB 2014

MEDICA L MARIJ UANA FACTORY FARMING An answer to on-reser ve job creatio n?




1 ///// JAN





Design / Production Tina Skujins













2014 PRODUCTION SCHEDULE Jan/Feb, March/April, May/June, Aug/Sept, Oct/Nov & Dec/Jan (2015) Distribution Aboriginal Marketplace is published by 2G Group of Companies ©2014 all rights reserved. The magazine is distributed online in Canada and the United States. The views expressed in the Aboriginal Marketplace are those of the respective contributors and not necessarily those of the publisher or staff.

09 19

Managing Editor Marlon Louis

Contributors Morgan Bamford, Paul Clements-Hunt, Neil Philcox, Keith Henry, Merle Alexander, Marlon Louis, Frank Busch



Publisher 2G Group of Companies

Advertising Sales Marlon Louis


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///// features 06 Keeping it Riel 12 Legal Eagle Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 3




n 2013, we explored how Aboriginal communities can tap into global capital flows through our “Access to Capital” articles in Aboriginal Marketplace (summarized in Access to Capital: A Year in Review, November/December 2013). We intend to continue that theme in 2014 by highlighting how, where possible, The Blended Capital Group and its partners and collaborators are supporting Aboriginal communities access to capital for their development goals. The first of our 2014 series will focus on the energy sector, and the opportunity for Aboriginal communities to finance equity participation in renewable energy projects. There are few sectors that attract as much attention as the energy sector. It is a critical component for survival (especially in Northern climates) and well-being; it is one of the most significant inputs driving economic activity; and it’s constantly at the forefront of local, national and international news, politics and policy development. Whether it is controversy about the installation of smart meters in communities across British Columbia, the transition from coal to renewable energy in Ontario, or the brewing showdown over the transport of oil from Alberta tar sands to terminals on the west coast, energy is always on the front page. Globally, issues of climate change, adaptation, conflict, energy independence, and growing energy demand in Asia, Africa and South America dominate the agenda.

4 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

When it comes to energy production in Canada, a split personality disorder is prevalent. One the one hand, Canada has a history of developing renewable energy potential for domestic consumption (mostly hydro) and related technical innovation. On the other hand, Canada has exploited its fossil fuel deposits (coal, gas and oil) to maximize revenues from energy exports, at the same time that the global community is seeking ways to reduce the use and impacts of fossil fuels. So where does this situation leave Aboriginal communities who are caught between the need to develop their own economic potential, and their responsibility as stewards of the land, water, air, and biodiversity? We believe a significant opportunity exists for Aboriginal communities to (i) benefit economically from the development of renewable energy projects; (ii) enhance social and environmental conditions in their communities and territories through well-directed capacity building and environmental covenants/conditions for renewable energy projects, and; (iii) provide leadership in the push towards a cleaner energy profile for Canada. Across the country, Provinces and Territories are mandated by the public to explore renewable energy alternatives, and to provide certain regulatory, fiscal and financing incentives for the development of hydro, wind, solar and biomass projects. Many of these Provincial and Territorial

incentives operate through the crown corporations responsible for power generation and transmission by way of feed-in tariffs, calls for independent power production, and other programs. At the government level, policy incentives are developed to support these outcomes. At the same time, Canada is facing an aging energy production infrastructure profile - by some estimates, approximately 15% of Canada’s electricity generating capacity will be more than 40 years old by 2020. According to the Pembina Institute, “42,000 MW of new electrical generation capacity will be required to replace capacity as older plants are decommissioned and to meet new demand. The need to upgrade our generating capacity and meet new demand offers an opportunity to transition to renewable energy sources.”

So far, we have discussed two powerful forces at work that support the development of renewable energy alternatives: (i) public policy and incentives for renewable energy production; and, (ii) replacement of aging traditional energy production infrastructure. There is a third, and fundamentally important aspect to this mix that is exclusive to Aboriginal communities: rights and title, and the duty to consult and accommodate. While it does not guarantee participation in the development of a renewable energy project, it has dawned on governments, crown corporations and developers that active Aboriginal participation is a smart choice. However, many Aboriginal communities lack access to capital to participate beyond negotiated IBA terms, while at the same time, many developers are constantly looking for

equity partners to capitalize the riskier stages of a project’s development. This lack of equity capital is a project choke point, primarily because without it, much larger debt financing for project construction is unavailable. There is a significant amount of long-term debt financing available, and it is not unusual to see debt/equity ratios in excess of 75/25 for good projects. But there is a catch – all the equity financing must be secured before the debt is available for the construction portion of the project. Most of the equity financing is also spent on the riskiest stages of the development, before construction begins. The Blended Capital Group and its partners and collaborators believe that the establishment of an Aboriginal Clean Energy Fund will provide Aboriginal communities across Canada with access to capital to

participate at the lower end of the risk profile for equity financing. While a number of small, successful funds exist at the Provincial level, the scope and scale of the opportunity across the country requires the mobilization of a larger fund. This approach will also provide diversification and risk mitigation across different projects for the duration of the fund. As we continue to develop the fund, The Blended Capital Group and its partners and collaborators would like to hear from you about your interest to participate in renewable energy deals in your territory. To continue the conversation, please contact Neil Philcox at nbp@blendedcapital. com or view our website at

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 5




his month I have co-authored the article with BC Métis Federation Secretary Joe Desjarlais. This article focuses on the recent developments regarding the latest Eyford Report as it related to Métis people in BC. This has been a paradigm shifting year for Métis ‘recognition’ in Canada. Standard narratives are breaking down as British Columbia Métis assert their historic right to determine their collective future. 2013 began with the release of a nationally significant Daniels court decision in January asserting that Métis people are Indians for purposes of the Constitution. The Manitoba land claims ruling soon followed; a decision that underscored the need for government action to meaningfully address unresolved historic Métis grievances. By early summer, a significant Canadian Senate Standing Committee report on Métis identity acknowledged the complexity of being Métis and called for Government action. BC and Federal governments were both named in human rights discrimination cases against Métis people in British Columbia which are still ongoing. Negotiations broke down in the fall with the Province, and further action is pending. To cap off the year in December, a final report by a Government appointed Special Federal Representative - Doug Eyford - was released, trending in the same direction, boldly calling for yet more government action. In Mr. Eyford’s words, “relationships that prosper require a foundation of trust, built on constructive dialogue, understanding interests, and a commitment to finding solutions.” This report arrives amidst urgent industry

6 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

demands to ship oil to foreign markets in a timely fashion, and industry pressure on governments to assert leadership with Aboriginal people. The oil industry is projected to invest a massive 364 billion dollars over the next 25 years into these projects. Métis people and communities, like other Aboriginal peoples, also have a voice in the process and have demonstrated leadership and support of First Nations. To date, the current Liberal government in BC is in utter denial. At the Federal level, it appears that the government has recently responded to the Eyford report by stating their intention to negotiate with the BC Métis Federation. After years of advocating, an alternative organization is entering into negotiations with the Federal government on behalf of Métis people and communities. Federal recognition has no doubt arrived and created an enormous ripple effect across Canada. This places direct pressure on Provinces to act. In effect, the legitimacy is shifting toward Métis communities and Nations as they gravitate toward more historic norms. “Recognition” is important and should be celebrated in whatever form it takes. But, as Louis Riel demonstrated with the Manitoba Act in 1870 and its outcome, one can win the battle for ‘recognition’ and lose the war of ‘Nationhood’ (self-determination). With the MacDonald Conservative government’s rush in the 19th century to satisfy the mercantile demands of the day and its National Policy, historic Métis claims to Nationhood and self-determination were subverted through the bungled Métis scrip policies and the consequences. Métis ways of life were deemed

expedient, and Métis were dispossessed from their land by law and policy. The caution here is that once in the legislative loop of ‘rights’, anything can happen, including the disallowance of the very rights which came to define a region/Nation. Mr. Eyford rightfully stated in his report that Métis consultation must be situated as part of a broader ongoing reconciliation process in Canada. Along these lines, two important foundational concepts are required if Métis peoples are to reflect their historical and legal place within Canadian society and for Canada to co-exist with Métis Nations. Firstly, any position on Métis community formation must be open to historical difference and appreciate the past, present and future dynamics of being Métis: there are many different ways of ‘being Métis’ in Canada. This means that piecemeal government or industry “recognition” are not the ‘end’ in themselves, but a means to opening up a space within this country for the historical difference of the Métis to be expressed and, eventually, practiced in all of its fullness. Our vision at the BC Métis Federation is to provide organizations (governments, boards, corporations,) with the mental maps (the language) that they can adopt and use to imagine a different kind of relationship with Métis people. By educating Métis peoples and Nations, Canadians, industry, governments and other institutions about the Nations-toNation relationships, we may foster inclusion, creative vitality, and patterns for principled relations. In order to initiate a political, social and cultural movement that honours the self-

determination and self-government of Métis Nations, in Canada, Métis leaders need to recognize each ‘other’ and develop a shared sense of difference beyond each particular Métis Nations’ history. Perhaps the only way to stop the competition for scarce government resources, which is generated out of the current rights-based system, is to initiate a complementary movement to re-educate governments of the Nations-to- Nation constitutional arrangements that will guide future relations. Secondly, historically unique and diverse and dynamic Métis communities must engage the Canadian state through Nation-to-Nation agreements. This is not a ‘one time deal’ but ongoing political relationship that is dynamic, a positive thing especially where resource development and environmental concerns are involved. Negotiations must commit NOT to close down future possibilities. What needs to be articulated time and again is that this is an on-going, open-ended and positive formation of Métis Nationhood. Coexistence, then, is not about dividing up the pie, but about meaningful dialogue, mutual learning and sharing so that things like “pipelines” or other impacts, are not about spreading the wealth but about quality of life and the ability of Métis, First Nation’s, Inuit and other Canadians to make meaningful choices that impact their livelihoods and ways of being. For this to happen, we need to release and equip Métis to draw upon their knowledge and provide other Canadians with the language and concepts to understand how this co-existence can become a reality While rights-based agreements premised upon narrow constitutional arrangements or legislative enactments are beneficial in the short term, they are not an accurate reflection of the historic or legal position of Métis communities. It is impossible to ‘be Métis’ in Canada without honouring the well-entrenched relational principles that recognize self-determined, self-sufficient and self- governing Métis Nations. Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has the historical traditions, constitutional precedents and societal awareness to effectively understand the complexity of Métis communities and recognize their unique identity within the Nation’s political, economic and social structure. Due to the expression of Métis pasts and through their own agency, there is a legal and historical heritage within which we can understand and respect our differences as we learn to live ‘side by side, neither one steering the other’s ship. Canada is thus being invited into a different way of recognizing Métis people. Without this messaging, people will have

no other choice but to resort to old ways of thinking. Without a long-term, generational approach to Métis Nationhood, individual or institutional stakeholders can lose their bearing easily. 2014 promises to be a breakthrough year. The team of volunteers at the BC Métis Federation inspire more and more Métis people with each passing day. I commend all those who have sacrificed time and finances to support the movement. I also want to thank Dr. Bruce Shelvey for his assistance.

To conclude in this special season of goodwill with these hopeful and powerful words from Louis Owens, scholar and author: “To be what is called mixed blood is never to rest..a choice there is, in every day and moment. But only because cultures insist upon choice.” For more information about the BC Métis Federation please go to our website www. Just trying to keep it Riel and thank you Joe Desjarlais!

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 7

coAstAl wood connection ltd. is lookiNG for first nAtions wood Products for new chinese mArkets.

if Your communitY or forestrY comPAnY hAs lumber for sAle PleAse contAct chris sAnkeY of cwc At chris@thecbrc.cA or toll free 855-863-1797 cwc is interested in buying lumber from all across canada!

New GLOBE 2014 theme set to shape future resource development opportunities


s one of the youngest and fastest growing business segments in North America, Aboriginal businesses and entrepreneurs are poised to play a crucial role in economic growth over the next decade. Today more than ever, forging resource development agreements that reflect Aboriginal interests is a business imperative – not just an option. “As we experience profound transformations in today’s economy and demography, it is more vital than ever to build strategic alliances between Aboriginal communities and companies in order to ensure future economic success,” says John Wiebe, President and CEO of the GLOBE Foundation. “At GLOBE 2014 this March in Vancouver, one of our key themes will focus on the immense economic potential inherent in these partnerships, including new markets and a previously underutilized labour force. Moreover, we’ll explore the ultimate bottom line: reflecting Aboriginal interests just makes good business sense.” Hundreds of billions of dollars of

commercial land-based and resource development projects have already been identified in close proximity to Aboriginal communities. But securing the social license to operate in areas where Aboriginal interests exist necessitates going far beyond regulatory and legal requirements. It not only requires a totally different engagement approach, but a fundamental rethink about doing business with Aboriginals. Author of the recently published book Aboriginal Power, Chris Henderson says, “Aboriginal communities are open to becoming full partners in sustainable enterprises in a diverse array of sectors from renewable energy, mining, oil and gas, transport, tourism and agriculture provided the environment is also protected. As Senior Advisor to the GLOBE Foundation, Henderson also notes, “the dialogue between industry, Aboriginal communities and governments needs to move from generalities to specific commercial opportunities and partnerships. GLOBE 2014 brings that focus through the Aboriginal Advantage sessions.”

At the forefront of these sessions will also be a discussion of the nation-building opportunities inherent in recognizing Aboriginal Power, both as it relates to energy generation opportunities on Aboriginal lands, as well as in so far as it relates to the growing power of First Nation, Metis, and Inuit leaders in corporate boardrooms. “Business can be a creative force for growth and understanding,” says JP Gladu, President and CEO, Canadian Council or Aboriginal Business and confirmed speaker at GLOBE 2014. “Aboriginal business fuelled the fur trade and were good at it, after a forced hiatus we’re back and we’re booming.” “We’re bringing together key players, a new generation of First Nation and industry leaders at the forefront of a movement that has the potential to fuel economic prosperity,” says Wiebe. “These are exciting times as we face a new reality ripe with opportunities for everyone involved.” GLOBE 2014 takes place March 26-28, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more information and to register visit

UNITING BUSINESS & THE ENVIRONMENT For more than 20 years the GLOBE™ Series has carried forward the mandate to promote the business case for sustainable development. Now North America’s largest and longest running forum on business and the environment, GLOBE provides unsurpassed intelligence around the changing energy landscape, the Aboriginal community at the forefront of business development, responsible resource management, the intersection of Aboriginal and private sector interests, and the changing arctic. Don’t miss this iconic networking opportunity in Vancouver in March of 2014.

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 9

NABOC Prince Rupert 2014 sees unprecedented interest


t seems that Prince Rupert is about to experience the ‘perfect storm’ from an economic development standpoint as numerous mega projects in the surrounding area come closer to fruition. With the growing resource development in the LNG, energy, mining, forestry, agriculture and transportation sectors, Northwest BC’s economic development opportunities are on the rise and are attracting new businesses to the area. In the last 6 months Prince Rupert has seen a large increase in the number of businesses moving to the city in anticipation that one or more of these mega projects will go ahead. Recently one of Canada’s largest crane companies, the NCSG Crane and Heavy Haul Services Group, bought out Broadwater Industries, a local crane company that has operated in Prince Rupert for over twenty years. More mergers are expected as the beginning of the ‘economic boom’ approaches. Each year the National Aboriginal Business Opportunities Conference (NABOC) Tour stops in Prince Rupert for an annual event. The two community hosts, Chief Harold Leighton of the Metlakatla First Nation and Mayor Garry Reece of Lax Kw’alaams First Nation will once again be welcoming businesses and First Nations groups to attend the 3 day networking event from April 29th – May 1st, 2014. Prince Rupert is rapidly becoming the next big Canadian business hot spot, and the annual NABOC event looks like it will be bigger than ever. Prince Rupert will welcome over 100 First Nations delegates and about 200 private sector delegates who will all have a focus on creating joint ventures, partnerships, and long-lasting business relationships with one another. Guests will travel in from across Canada, Asia, Europe and the USA for 3 great days of business networking. The NABOC events have become well known as gathering places of leaders. Each year, companies attend the NABOC Prince Rupert event in hopes of establishing equitable and beneficial relationships with First Nation groups. More and more First Nations

10 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

communities are declaring themselves ‘open for business’ and they are actively seeking joint ventures and partnerships with private sector groups. All groups who will attend share a common interest in exploring opportunities and getting involved in the upcoming projects scheduled to take place in the Pacific Northwest. “Over the last four years we have watched companies attend the NABOC event and walk away with very positive results from the mass of opportunities that were presented at the events. Mega projects that were only topics of discussion at the first NABOC Prince Rupert in 2010 are now close to realization. At that first event, over $60 billion worth of investments were announced that were to happen over the next decade in the region and now with the addition of more recently announced projects we’ll certainly see an increase in that number at the 2014 event” says Geoff Greenwell, CEO of 2G Group. Each year Aboriginal Marketplace Events and Magazine showcase existing private

sector/Aboriginal business partnerships and focus on creating new ones through the NABOC Conference Tour. As usual there will be a NABOC Prince Rupert special edition issue of the Aboriginal Marketplace Magazine that will be given out to all of the delegates at the event. Organizations and individuals interested in submitting an ad and or article should email Rochelle Saddleman at rochelle@ Major sponsors for the 2014 event are PTI Group, Northern Savings Credit Union, and Pacific Northwest LNG; other sponsors include Quickload Logistics, SMIT Marine, Embark Engineering, Britco, Black Diamond Group, TransCanada, RBC, Ridley Terminals, Stantec, Canpotex, Graham, Innergex, Spectra Energy, BG Group and the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Over 50 other private sector companies have also already registered to attend the 2014 Prince Rupert NABOC event. Not only has NABOC Prince Rupert become the most popular private sector/ Aboriginal business networking event in northern BC, it has also spawned numerous multimillion dollar projects that have been initiated due to relationships formed at this unique conference. If you’re looking to expand and/or open up your business in the north of BC and are interested in creating successful joint ventures and partnerships with local First Nation and

other private sector groups, then you will want to register to attend this event. Join the movers and shakers of the north at the Northwest Convention Centre in Prince Rupert from April 29 – May 1 for three great days of networking. To register go to Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 11


Northern Gateway Project: Battle is not the War


y now, everyone knows that on December 19, 2013, the Joint Review Panel (“JRP”) recommended approval of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. It may be the cold of winter, but we are warming the drums and Aboriginal Peoples have the wisdom to know that this setback is only a battle in a war to protect our Territories. Hopefully, there is also the wisdom to understand that a Project of such an international scale cannot be rejected by the rights of a single First Nation, it will take a collective.

12 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

The media coverage has characterized First Nations as subset to the opposition coalition and suggests we are simply litigious. They have not highlighted the fact that the Crown has not fulfilled its constitutional duty, the duty to consult. I humbly offer some initial thoughts on this subject. Does the JRP recommendation mean the Project is approved? No, not yet. The JRP recommendation is submitted to the Minister of Natural Resources and Cabinet for decision to rejection, reconsideration or approval in 180 days. So, by June 17, 2014, Harper’s Cabinet will make its decision. Of course, Cabinet approval does not mean constitutional approval. The Crown will be required to meet the justifiable infringement test and meet the consultation requirement for respective First Nations. There

will also likely not be an acceptable blanket consultative process, the potential adverse effects and strength of title and right must be assessed for each First Nation. Did the JRP fulfil the duty to consult affected First Nations? No. The JRP is considered a “quasi-judicial body” and does not have the legal capacity to act as an agent for the Crown. The JRP could have assessed whether the consultation requirement was met, but it could not fulfil the duty itself. What are the Crown’s next steps on consultation? The Federal Government has said that it will “rely on the joint review process and [Enbridge’s] consultation” as part of its Crown consultation. This approach does not accord with current case law that expects consultation occur “prior” and that only procedural components of consultation can be delegated to third parties. If there is a consultation framework or plan for Northern Gateway, it is a Cabinet secret. Can the joint review process provide sufficient information on consultation? No. Even if the Crown could rely on evidence submitted by First Nations in the joint review process, there will be significant information gaps for a number of reasons. First, the JRP narrowly construed what

interveners could provide submissions on, they had specific submission guidelines and deviations were not accepted by the Panel. Consultation is supposed to be a two-way dialogue and there is no way a one-sided prescribed information collection exercise can meet the consultation requirement. Second, a number of First Nations opted to not participate in the JRP stating that the process was biased, inadequate and predetermined and chose to not submit any evidence. In those circumstances, the Crown will have a substantial information gap, particularly on traditional and current land use information. This gap will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the Crown to argue it can make an informed decision on the adverse effects on these First Nations and then be able to properly accommodate those effects. There will be arguments that these First Nations did not meet their reciprocal duty to consult. What are the next steps for Aboriginal Peoples? Politically, it remains the case that the BC Government is on the record as opposed to the Project. Aboriginal Governments have a strong constitutional partner if this alliance can be maintained. Clearly, leadership should consider solidifying Provincial support. There does appear to be a significant leverage point

available given that Premier Clark’s pipeline dream is for natural gas and LNG and not Alberta bitumen. Viable legal options that are very likely being considered include: (1) judicial review applications after Cabinet approves the Project on June 17, 2014; (2) application for declarations of Aboriginal title and rights on key territories on the corridor and failure of the Crown to adequately consult; (3) common law remedies of trespass, nuisance, economic interference, etc. These and other legal options disclose that the JRP’s recommendation is only a battle in the war. Even if the many court applications were given a high priority by the Courts, the diversity of fact and evidence-specific trials and appeal processes will likely put the Project in a holding pattern for years. It is very likely that the Supreme Court of Canada will be the destination for many of the legal challenges. As a closing comment, it may well be the case that this result may create a stronger coalition against the Northern Gateway Project and other projects. The JRP’s recommendation despite substantive opposition by First Nations, the Provincial Government and the majority of local governments along the corridor undercuts the core of legitimate participation in regulatory processes.

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CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS INCLUdE: > effective marketing of indigenous cultural tourism > creating authentic cultural destinations and experiences > best practices & success stories in indigenous cultural tourism Delegates shoulD fly into the VancouVer international airport where shuttle serVice has been arrangeD to whistler booK your accoMMoDations online at the fairMont château whistler website

use the following Discount coDe linK: https://resweb.passKey.coM/go/iatc2014

a b o r i g i n a l m a r k e t p l a c e . c o m for information & to register please contact rochelle saddleman toll free: 855.307.5291 or

Dear Friends, AtBC is in final preparation as the co-host for the third International Aboriginal Tourism Conference (IATC) being held April 15th - 16th 2014 at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre & the Fairmont Château hotel in Whistler, BC. AtBC is proud to partner with 2GGroup as the event planners for IATC. The conference is filling with delegates from throughout Canada and international locations. It is in this excitement that I write to thank so many of you for the support to attend and learn more about the Aboriginal cultural tourism industry. The success of IATC is critical to the vision of AtBC and other leaders who continue to value the importance of building an authentic, consistent and competitive Aboriginal tourism industry. This conference is the only international Aboriginal tourism conference in Canada that provides delegates essential industry information such as ideas on training, product development and marketing. It is this vision within AtBC where IATC will become the annual tourism industry event for any Aboriginal community, entrepreneur, or non Aboriginal partner to attend. AtBC is proud to recognize and honour cultural tourism businesses who continue to excel each tourism season. On behalf of the AtBC board and staff and our partners I extend my sincere appreciation to so many of our friends and partners for ensuring the third International Aboriginal Tourism Conference will be a huge success. I especially want to recognize the partnerships with our event planners 2GGroup for ensuring another great conference. I look forward to seeing all of you soon! Thank you

Keith Henry Chief Executive Officer Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 15

First Nations communities evalua facilities as potential n

OTTAWA December 18th, 2013 – The Conservative government launched a $1.3-billion free market in medical mariJuana, eventually providing an expected 450,000 Canadians with quality, THC regulated product. Health Canada is phasing out an older system that mostly relied on small-scale, homegrown medical marijuana of varying quality, often diverted illegally to the black market.

16 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

ate Medical MariJuana production new on-reserve industry


n its place, large indoor marijuana farms certified by the RCMP and health inspectors will produce, package and distribute a range of standardized marijuana, all of it sold for whatever price the market will bear. The first sales are expected in the next few weeks, delivered directly by secure courier. “We’re fairly confident that we’ll have a healthy commercial industry in time,” Sophie Galarneau, a senior official with Health Canada, said in a recent newspaper interview. The current number of registered medical marijuana users approved by Health Canada is 37,359, up almost 80 percent from the 477 who were registered in in 2002. Some recent statistics on the industry show that: • The number of patients who currently hold personal licences to grow marijuana for themselves is 25,600 however that right expires in March 31, 2014 and from then on they will have to buy from licensed facilities. • The number of growers licenced to produce marijuana for a maximum of two patients each is 4,200 and these licenses also expire on March 31, 2014. • Th  e current number of entrepreneur applications (as of November 30th, 2013) to grow medical marijuana under the new rules allowing larger facilities is 156. •H  ealth Canada’s current price for medical marijuana produced under contract is $5 a gram, •H  ealth Canada’s projection of a profitable private-sector price in 2014 after the new free-market kicks in is $7.60 per gram. The

projection of average price as the market matures in several years is $8.80 per gram. • The current advertised price per gram of products from CannaMed, the first licensed distributor in the new system, is between $9 and $12 per gram. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took his stance on marijuana a step further in a public appearance in Kelowna, B.C. in December. “I’m actually not in favour of decriminalizing cannabis, I’m in favour of legalizing, taxing and regulating it,” he said, over a burst of applause from the crowd. Trudeau gave his opinion without being asked a direct question, in response to a sign advocating the decriminalization of cannabis. “It’s one of the only ways to keep it out of the hands of our kids,” he added. His next sentence of “Liberals understand the need to consider ending the prohibition of marijuana and addressing the root causes of crime to see real results,” raised big cheers from the crowd. In response to Trudeau’s comments, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay’s spokesperson said the Conservative government has no intention of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. “These drugs are illegal because of the harmful effect they have on users and on society. We will continue protecting the interests of families across this country,” wrote Paloma Aguilar, a spokesperson for the Minister, in an email to Global News. Health Canada is placing no limits on the number of these new capital-intensive facilities, which will have mandatory vaults and security systems. Private-dwelling production will be banned. Imports from places such as the Netherlands will be allowed. Already 156 firms have applied for lucrative producer and distributor status since June of 2013, with the first two receiving licenses in late November of 2013. The old system fostered only a cottage industry, with 4,200 growers licensed to produce for a maximum of two patients each. The Mounties have complained repeatedly these grow-ops were often a front for criminal organizations. The next six months are a transition period, as Health Canada phases out the

old system by March 31 of 2014, while encouraging medical marijuana users to register under the replacement regime and to start buying from the new factory-farms. There are currently 37,400 medical marijuana users recognized by Health Canada, but official’s project that number will swell more than 10-fold, to as many as 450,000 people, by 2024. The profit potential is enormous. A gram of dried marijuana bud on the street sells for about $10 and Health Canada projects the legal stuff will average about $7.60 next year, as producers set prices without interference from government. Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems, and its subsidiary CanniMed Ltd., were granted the first two licenses under the new system and are already advertising their new products on the web. Prospective patients, including those under the current system, must get a medical professional to prescribe medical marijuana using a government-approved form. The changes in the system have raised the interest of a number of First Nations communities and individuals across the country. As these new production facilities can be anywhere, as all product is shipped by courier, they may be a way of creating employment on reserves that are geographically challenged to create employment. Of course any medical marijuana facility opened on-reserve will be controversial, but as they will be so tightly regulated and controlled there is little chance of any illegal sales in the communities where they may be located. According to statements from current license applicants an investment of as little as $300,000 can create up to 10 full-time jobs, as well as profit for the owners of upwards of $500,000 per annum once the facility is in in full production. That’s a very attractive proposition for First Nations communities struggling to create employment and discretionary income! So will we see First Nations communities applying for licenses for this new industry in the near future? It will be interesting to see how the debate evolves.

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 17


This could be your ad on major highways across Canada!

FOR ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES Call Toll-Free: 866-284-8322 or Email: 18 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

Suncor/Petro-Canada to host the first ever First Nations Gas Station and Convenience Store Conference and Tradeshow


uncor, the parent company of PetroCanada, is putting together Canada’s first ever conference and tradeshow aimed at First Nations gas stations and convenience stores. The conference and tradeshow will be held at the Osoyoos Indian Band’s (OIB) NK’MIP Resort, and Aboriginal Marketplace Events, the events management division of the 2G Group, are helping Suncor and OIB plan and execute the event. The idea for the event came from conversations between Chris Bower, Business Development Manager for OIB, and Barry Wood head of Dealer Development in Western Canada for Suncor. “Barry and I were working together on building a new gas station/convenience store at the entrance to our NK’MIP Resort and we got to talking about how most of the First Nations in Canada are still operating their gas stations as independents without a name brand. The value of a name brand on your gas

station makes a huge difference in sales, so we thought we should try to put together an event at our resort that shows other First Nations the value of converting to a name brand,” said Chris. “Suncor, under the Petro-Canada brand, has been very active in developing retail opportunities with various First Nations across the country. This new site in Osoyoos, a development with the Osoyoos Indian Band, is going to be a great offering for the community. The Band has put their own style and brand up front together with ours, and we’re looking forward to strong growth together,” said Barry. The inaugural First Nations Gas Station and Convenience Store Conference and Tradeshow will be held at NK’MIP Resort on October 28th and 29th 2014. Suncor is putting together an agenda that will feature the latest innovative marketing and merchandising concepts in the industry, product positioning advice, financial benefits of working under

The new Petro-Canada branded gas station on the Osoyoos Indian Band’s southern reservation land

their name brand, contract development, advice on site locations as well as numerous other industry specific topics that will be of great value to all First Nation gas station/ convenience store operators. “The target market for this event is any First Nation (or First Nations individual) who operates a gas station/convenience store(s), the information at the event will be really helpful in improving the efficiency and profitability of operating their stores,” said Chris. “The event will be open to anyone who wishes to attend though and we expect a number of industry related exhibitors to attend and showcase their products and services,” he added in closing our interview. Registration for the event will open in the late spring of 2014 but anyone interested in more information on attending as a delegate or exhibitor should contact Rochelle Saddleman of Aboriginal Marketplace Events at or . Toll Free at 1-855-307-5291

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 19

Moody’s Investors Service assigns A3 Rating to FIRST NATIONS FINANCE AUTHORITY BY: FRANK BUSCH


he First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA) is pushing forward on the first ever FNFA bond to be issued in 2014. The announcement by Moody’s Investors Service, which provides credit ratings and research covering debt instruments and securities, of an “A3” investment grade rating has garnered international attention. “The First Nations Finance Authority’s strong institutional framework and governance and management structure provide debenture holder security, including the establishment of debt reserve funds and credit enhancement fund as well as a debt reserve fund replenishment requirement of all borrowing members,” says Jennifer Wong, Moody’s Canada, Inc. The loan portfolio of the FNFA is nearing $80 million in combined loans issued and Borrowing Laws before Council. The expectation is that this will grow to over $100 million by the time the bond is issued, which will ensure that the FNFA bond will be listed on major bond market indices. It will be an institutional bond, available to be purchased

by large investors such as insurance companies and pension funds rather than sold to the public at large. Currently the FNFA is providing loans to its Borrowing Members at a floating rate of 2.60% (interest only). In the spring of 2014, these short term loans will be converted to long term, fixed rate loans that provide budget certainty. In a recent interview published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Ernie Daniels, FNFA President and CEO, explained the implications for First Nations: “It allows First Nations to access the same levels of financing that other levels of government currently have. It allows them to develop economically that much faster and with confidence. The historical significance cannot be understated.” Although First Nations governments are responsible for the same local services as municipalities and provinces, they do not have the same access to capital. Some First Nations have impressive economic opportunities in their regions, opportunities that will only be realized if they have access to low rate

financing. This issue was discussed on a recent segment of “The Street” on Business News Network (BNN) with Andrew Bell. Some of the questions discussed ranged from jurisdictional legal issues concerning First Nations to the type of revenue sources that will be used to service the bond. The need to improve First Nations infrastructure presents an opportunity for investors interested in this “developing market” within Canada. What makes the bond attractive is that it is backed by diverse sources of revenue such as Impact Benefit Agreements, Royalties, Trust Fund Income, Gaming, Rentals, Contract and Business Revenues. The bond is insulated by a Debt Reserve Fund, which holds 5% of all loans issued (which is repaid to each First Nation when the loan is satisfied) as well as a $10 million Credit Enhancement Fund supplied by the Government of Canada. The media attention resulting from the A3 rating is creating a snowball effect, with many First Nations seeking information on how they can benefit from becoming a Borrowing Member of the FNFA. In order to do so, First

The need to improve First Nations infrastructure presents an opportunity for investors interested in this “developing market” within Canada. 20 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

Nations must opt into the First Nations Fiscal Management Act through a Band Council Resolution and a letter to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, templates of which are available from the FNFA office ( The interested First Nations must then seek certification from the First Nations Financial Management Board which insures that they meet specific standards of governance and financial management. To date, 31 First Nations have completed the process, and another 81 are striving towards the same. The purpose of certification is to strengthen internal procedures and decision making

processes as well as to establish “comfort” in the capital markets which ensures that financing is always available. Although it has taken many years of diligent research, lobbying and community

engagement, First Nations are now on the cusp of economic equality. The year 2014 promises to be a new beginning for First Nations, who will be further recognized as part of a global economy.

The historical significance cannot be understated.” Moody’s rating chart

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 21

2013 Aboriginal Economic Developer of the Year Awards presented at Cando Conference BY: Morgan Bamford, CEDI Program Coordinator


ince 1995, Cando has been celebrating the success of outstanding economic development officers (EDOs) working in Aboriginal communities, the communities themselves and successful Aboriginal private sector businesses through the Aboriginal Economic Developer of the Year Awards. This year, award finalists had the opportunity to share their story, the winners were selected and the awards presented on October 31 at Cando’s Annual National Conference in Winnipeg. Cando believes it is important for Aboriginal economic developers to get the recognition they deserve for their commitment and dedication to increasing the standard of living and prosperity in Aboriginal Communities. The awards are a great opportunity to celebrate and showcase the work of just a few of the many Aboriginal economic developers who have made a

difference in their communities. The Cando Conference audience – mainly economic development professionals working in Aboriginal communities – makes this the idea stage for these prestigious annual awards. The awards recognize three categories of winners: Individual EDO, Community and Aboriginal Private Sector Business. Each year, Cando receives loads of nominations and selects two finalists within each of the three categories. Each of the 6 finalists is invited to the Cando Conference to share their story and conference delegates vote for their favourite in each category. The winners are awarded at the gala event held on the Thursday evening. This year’s Aboriginal Economic Developer of the Year Award winners were: Individual EDO Category: Darrell Balkwill, CEO Whitecap Development Corporation, Saskatchewan Darrell Balkwill has been working in

economic development with Saskatoonarea First Nations for nearly thirty years. He began as Economic Development Officer at the Saskatoon Tribal Council in 1986 and worked on community economic development programming, planning and project development for its seven member First Nations. In 2003, Darrell joined Whitecap Dakota First Nation as the Director of Economic Development and has since been involved in economic development initiatives and investments that improve the economic prosperity of the community. Now CEO of Whitecap Development Corporation, some of Darrell’s major accomplishments in this role include the development of the Dakota Dunes Hotel, enhancements to the Dakota Dunes Gold Links, Saskatoon Tribal Council Casino Holdings and Whitecap Commercial Real Estate development. Today, Whitecap Dakota First Nation boasts the lowest

Cando believes it is important for Aboriginal economic developers to get the recognition they deserve for their commitment and dedication to increasing the standard of living and prosperity in Aboriginal Communities. 22 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

unemployment rate of all Saskatchewan First Nations. Darrell is an example of an individual truly committed to meaningful Aboriginal economic development. The runner-up in the Individual EDO Category was Justin Ferbey, CEO, Carcross Tagish Management Corporation, Yukon Community Category: Kahkewistahaw Economic Management Corporation, Saskatchewan The Kahkewistahaw First Nation is located in southeastern Saskatchewan and founded the Kahkewistahaw Economic Management Corporation (KEMC) in 2002 to foster economic development opportunities, generate wealth and employment for the community and protect the band from any negative consequences of struggling businesses in the future. KEMC has since been involved in a number of successful economic development initiatives, including an awardwinning Petro Canada Gas & Convenience Store, a Home Inn & Suites hotel, Mamawi Holdings (which manages more than $40 million-worth of developed property in

Yorkton) and a new sand and gravel business. In the process, they have been able to create employment and wealth for their members. Trevor Acoose, KEMC Director of Corporate Operations accepted the award on behalf of KEMC. The runner-up in the Community Category was the Carcross Tagish Management Corporation, Yukon Aboriginal Private Sector Business: Erasmus Apparel, Yellowknife, NT Cool and unique clothing inspired by northern life are at the heart of Erasmus Apparel. What started as a small operation out of her parents’ living room by young Yellowknives Dene member Sarah Erasmus of N’Dilo, on the edge of Yellowknife, has grown into a popular destination for locals and visitors alike with its own storefront on Yellowknife’s main Franklin Avenue. Sarah incorporates designs depicting life in the north, and specifically Yellowknife, on her custom-made hoodies, t-shirts, tank tops and accessories. For example, Sarah’s first shirt design read, “Got diamonds? Thank a

Dene”, while other designs since incorporate stylized moose antlers, the headframes from the city’s iconic gold mines and a bright yellow sword. Sarah began selling her products at local festivals and events, then expanded her sales with her retail store and now sells products online. In the three years since it was founded, Erasmus Apparel has sold more than 10,000 products. Sarah’s passion for Erasmus Apparel comes from her love from the north: “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.” Sarah was also selected to be on the 2013 Cando National Youth Panel. You can read more about the Youth Panel in this issue of N-Side News. The runner-up in the Aboriginal Private Sector Business Category was Bizzybody Events

From left to right: Trevor Acoose, Kahkewistahaw First Nation Community EDO winner; Sarah Erasmus, Erasmus Apparel, Aboriginal Private Sector Business EDO winner; Darrel Balkwill, Individual EDO winner.

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 23

Northern Gateway Review Panel decision provokes thoughtful response from oil industry


f more pipelines are ever going to get built in Canada, 2014 has to be the year the oil industry finally ‘gets real’ in regard to Aboriginal title and rights issues. Industry leaders know they have to rethink their approach, and that the clock is ticking as they seek to get oil and gas through First Nations territories to export markets before opportunities vaporize. It stands to be their toughest task yet. Even with a strong lobby group inside the federal government the Northern Gateway project is far from a done deal. One huge problem is that the oil, gas and pipeline companies are already behind in the trust-and-relationship-building departments after some misadventures that created very bad blood, especially during the regulatory process for the Northern Gateway oil pipeline to the Pacific from Alberta. It seems that the supposed ‘expert’ Aboriginal advisory groups hired by Enbridge have failed them badly. A testament to the lack of trust in oil and gas companies is highlighted by a recent survey from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, which found that onethird of Aboriginal Canadians have “no trust whatsoever” in oil and gas companies. Another problem is that these are bottom-line-focused corporations with limited ability to solve major social and legal issues that have simmered for decades, and which many Native leaders want dealt with before anything gets built on their

24 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

lands. The ‘duty to consult’ is being pawned off by the federal crown to these private sector companies without any framework agreements to guide the negotiations. Northern Gateway won conditional clearance from a federal regulatory panel last week and Ottawa has until the middle of 2014 to make a final ruling. Already, some B.C. Native groups have promised court battles if the project – aimed at getting crude to more lucrative foreign markets – gets a green light. David Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the sector’s main lobby group, understands both the nuance and the need to move quickly. He also knows the limitations as companies clamour for higher international oil prices for their shareholders. Mr. Collyer has studied closely the recent report by Doug Eyford, who was tasked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to gather First Nations’ views on resource development. He says it lays out some workable approaches for fostering inclusion in the economy among Native people. “A lot of it is founded on relationships and trust and that has to be built over a period of time. One can certainly take the view that that foundation is not where we’d like it to be at the moment,” Mr. Collyer said in an interview recently.

“But I think it really does come down to the right people – government and industry, and importantly First Nations – trying to see if there’s a pragmatic way through this.” The oil and gas companies seem to have great difficulty comprehending that some First Nations groups simply ‘cannot be bought,’ and that their concern is about the environment not financial gain. The concept of crude or bitumen never reaching China through B.C. is not an outcome that CAPP seems willing to even contemplate. Aboriginal title and rights in B.C. are the domain of government and Native negotiators, and ultimately the courts. Oil and gas companies can do little to expedite legal process and Northern Gateway could easily be tied up in legal challenges for the next decade if Ottawa gives it the green light in 2014. It has been said by a variety of people in the last few years, that the Northern Gateway Aboriginal negotiation process will become a case study taught in future political science classes of “how not to handle Aboriginal negotiations over land claims and revenue sharing.” This seems unfortunate but perhaps it will help future negotiations be more productive and realistic. Many are wondering if Northern Gateway is Stephen Harper’s “hill to die on?” The next federal election will give us that answer.

Lax Kw’alaams First Nation and Pinnacle Renewable Energy Plan Pellet Plant for Terrace, BC


ccording to a news release from Lax Kw’alaams First Nation in December of 2013, plans are in the works for a new wood pellet plant in Terrace. Coast Tsimshian Resources (CTR) is a forestry company owned by Lax Kw’alaams and holds the largest active tree farm license in the coastal supply area of the proposed plant. Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc is the largest manufacturer of wood pellets in British Columbia and is also the largest exporter of wood pellets in Canada. Coast Tsimshian Resources and Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. have signed an agreement to work together on a fibre procurement plan and wood pellet facility. Pinnacle currently operates six pellet plans in British Columbia and recently commissioned its new Westview Wood Pellet Terminal at the Port of Prince Rupert making export to Asia more efficient. Lax Kw’alaams Mayor and CTR Board Chair Garry Reece says the agreement will benefit the forest industry in northwest BC. “This agreement is a game-changer for

CTR and for the local forest industry. A wood pellet plant provides a solution for low-end fibre that is sustainable, and makes the best use of our forest resources. We also expect our

agreement with Pinnacle to set the stage for other cooperative agreements with our other forestry partners including Skeena sawmills,” said Mayor Reece in a recent interview.

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 25

Know your strategic alliance options


re you a First Nations entrepreneur looking for a way to speed up entry into a new market, improve your productivity, gain a competitive edge or increase your range of products? “A strategic alliance may be your answer,” advises Robert Lajoie, National Director, Aboriginal Banking Unit at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

What can an alliance do? A strategic alliance allows you to grow your organization without necessarily expanding its size and incurring more costs. It also allows you to test the market for growth potential. Some possible benefits of a strategic alliance may include entering new markets, extending current market reach, getting better prices through bulk purchasing or gaining access to new technology.

Questions to consider before entering a strategic alliance When you’re shopping for a potential partner, you should carefully assess the risks and ask yourself a series of questions: Do you have a specific list of attributes that you’re looking for in a partner: location, market reach, business culture? Do you share the same objectives? Have you clearly articulated your expectations to each other? Don’t offer exclusivity to anybody unless a certain sales level is achieved or objectives are attained.

26 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

Will you be competing in the same market? Will your alliance affect your market position? Are your brands compatible? For example, a cost-focused company and high-end consumer business might not be a good pairing. Do you have a strategic plan in mind for your alliance? Do you have an exit strategy? Do you know what kind of contract you’ll be signing?

Use a larger company’s distribution network By striking agreements with distributors, you can invest more profits into your core business. However, it is crucial to profile potential distributors to ensure that they are aligned with your needs. Forming an alliance is much like recruiting a new employee. You want someone who matches your company profile and represents you well.

Pass useful knowledge down the chain You can also create strategic alliances with suppliers to develop new products and share knowledge and training to improve your production process. For instance, you can coordinate your production schedule with theirs, reduce costs through size and timing of orders and increase your range of products and services. Keep

in mind that you will have to update your partner on any changes in new products and share forecasts to develop accurate sales plans.

Choose the best partner You should choose your partner based on how the company ranks according to your key criteria. It’s important not to be lured by sales pitches that don’t meet your demands. You should take the time to do research, check the credit of potential suppliers and get firsthand advice from other companies that may have dealt with your prospective partner. Remember, that although the price is important, so are reliability and speed.

A joint venture for on-site production Another alliance strategy is to set up a joint venture where an on-site partner is responsible for production and the distribution of products in a specific area. In general, your partner would transfer knowledge and knowhow, and you would collect royalties in return. Your business gains from your partner’s specific market expertise, and you get easier access to the market. Since local companies are familiar with the economic characteristics, business environment and cultural aspects of their region, they have a much-improved chance of breaking into the market and generating a better return on the invested capital.

“Yes, but what we really need is a firm that understands our values.” People who know First Nations, know BDO.

The First Nations Practice at BDO Striking a balance between tradition and economic growth isn’t always easy. With practical experience and a deep understanding of First Nations issues, BDO can work with you to develop your community while also preserving your way of life. Our dedicated professionals offer a range of strategic and analytic solutions to help you achieve results that will last for generations to come. Assurance | Accounting | Tax | Advisory BDO Canada LLP, a Canadian limited liability partnership, is a member of BDO International Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, and forms part of the international BDO network of independent member firms. BDO is the brand name for the BDO network and for each of the BDO Member Firms.

Midnight Shine Band members from Ontario highlight positives of their communities


ot many bands play their very first show opening for legendary Canadian rockers. But then again, not many bands are quite like Midnight Shine. When Trooper invited singer/songwriter Adrian Sutherland to open their Timmins concert in 2011, there was one condition: that he performs with a band. So Sutherland pulled together Zach Tomatuk (guitar), Stan Louttit (bass), and George Gillies (drums), and Midnight Shine came to be. “We gelled really fast,” recalls Adrian. “We played in front of 1,000 people the very first show, and they were blown away. After that, we just had to keep it going.” The Midnight Shine sound is a seamless blend of roots, classic and modern rock, built around Sutherland’s captivating vocals, eloquent songs, and charismatic personality. Together, the four musicians put forth a winning combination of energy and experience, resulting in a group sonic identity that is highly impressive. Especially given that they came together only two years ago. A strong sense of melody is at the heart

28 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

of all Midnight Shine’s material, partially attributable to Sutherland’s background as a solo singer/songwriter who is used to crafting songs on acoustic guitar. The nine tracks on Midnight Shine range from the radio-friendly Since You Been Gone and resonating rock ballad Small Town Girl, through the hookladen riffs of Indian In Disguise and Worth The Fight, to the rootsy James Bay and Neil Young-like Mooshum (Grandfather). Helping set Midnight Shine apart from other Canadian rock bands is Adrian Sutherland’s lyrical explorations of his First Nations’ identity. He hails from the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat (with bandmates from other First Nations in the region) and draws upon his experiences in his songs. “Some of the music is about who I am and where I come from,” he explains. “I’ve always wanted to share some of my background and beliefs through the platform of music. Everybody has a story and I think it’s important for First Nations people to shed positive light on our culture and values.”

In addition to making contemporary rock music, Sutherland sings in a traditional drum group, takes part in ceremonies, and is a genuine example of someone who lives and pays homage to his culture. He cares about his people of the north, figuratively as well as literally, through his work as a paramedic, and his job as Chief Operations Officer for economic development in his community. He is proud of who he is, and where he comes from. While Sutherland’s home has been the subject of a flood of negative media attention in recent years, he for one would like to change those perceptions: “There are good stories to be told from Attawapiskat, and I hope we’re one of them.” Indeed they are. In fact, the name Midnight Shine is highly appropriate, given that the band and their music shine a bright and positive light on a place too often depicted as dark and troubled. They’re a band you’ll take a real shine to. Be sure to check them out online at


in Aboriginal Businesses in Alberta’s Oil Sands



etween 1998 and 2012, Aboriginal companies earned more than $5.0 billion while working with industry in the oilsands, including contracts worth $900 million in 2012. As they develop their economies, the region’s Bands have become more and more diverse and sophisticated in the way they do business. Diversifying its business portfolio since the early 1990s, the Mikisew Cree First Nation operates six companies and is a partner in four joint ventures. The Band employs roughly 500 people, and dabbles in everything from hotel management to bulk fuel and a sport fishing company. Based in Fort Chipewyan, it entered into a seven-year partnership with Sodexo Canada to run a camp in the oilsands that accommodates 2,000 workers. The seven-year contract with Suncor is worth $600 million. Other business interests range from oil and gas industry support services and automotive and heavy equipment maintenance to real estate development and an aviation services company. Owner of the defunct carrier Mikisew Air, it is currently considering a return to passenger service in a joint venture. Also based in Fort Chipewyan, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation operates a stable of wholly owned and joint ventures that employ 1,400 people.

Business interests include civil engineering, camp catering, manufacturing Kevlar wristbands and safety products, a janitorial service, machining and welding, a highway repairs division and tire recycling. The Fort McKay Group of Companies began with a single janitorial services contract in 1986, and today ranks among Canada’s most successful Aboriginal business ventures with eight limited partnerships, 4,000 employees and more than $100 million in annual revenue. The Band provides a range of services in heavy equipment operations, warehouse logistics, roads and grounds maintenance, bulk fuel and lube delivery, environmental services and land leasing operations. Owned by the Cold Lake First Nation, the Primco Dene Group has a handful of businesses in northeastern Alberta, including emergency medical services, security, work camp construction and oil

well services divisions, a courier company, management consulting and commercial retail development. These are just some examples of the significant benefit that Bands in Alberta are getting from involvement with the Oil Sands. British Columbia Bands may not want to be the recipients of the oil from the “Tar Sands” as they are known in BC, but ask any Alberta Band member who’s working in the Oil sands and their opinions are very different! Of course all BC Bands can hope to gain from allowing oil to be transported across their territories are royalties and perhaps some ongoing maintenance work which doesn’t compare to the benefits the Alberta Bands are realizing. There’s no doubt that oil continues to be a controversial topic amongst Aboriginal communities across Canada and it’ll be interesting to see how the debate evolves.

Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014 29

Gaining Control of land development decisions is key to First Nations economic development


xasperated by the woefully slow decision making process in the land department of AANDC, more and more First Nations are recognizing the need to take control of land development on their reserves. As a testament to this, an announcement made in Ottawa in early December of 2013 by the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, accompanied by Chief Robert Louie of the First Nations Land Advisory Board and Chief Austin Bear of the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre Inc. welcomed nine more First Nations into the First Nations Land Management Regime. By signing the Framework Agreement, these First Nation communities can now begin the process of opting out of 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume greater control over their reserve land and resources. “Our Government is committed to working with interested First Nations like those represented here today to create jobs and economic opportunities and also to achieve reconciliation between Canada and First Nations,” said Minister Valcourt. “The First Nations Land Management Regime (FNLMR) continues to be a proven and successful tool of economic development and reconciliation. We will continue to work with interested First Nations to enable the development of their lands and resources, ensuring the conditions for strong, selfsufficient and prosperous communities.” In a statement regarding the most recent signing ceremony, Chief Louie expressed that “This signing is absolutely wonderful. Adding more First Nations into Land Management will help propel much needed economic prosperity capabilities into the lives and communities of First Nations. Beneficiaries will include Canada, regional and local communities, and individual First Nation communities right across the country.” Chief Austin Bear spoke to the importance of this moment for the 28 new entrants. “The

30 Aboriginal Marketplace - January/February 2014

Framework Agreement provides a better future for our communities. It is a catalyst to self‐sufficiency, state of the art infrastructure, and governance models driven by our values and traditional ways.” He added, “As a result of this historical and necessary initiative, First Nations working under their land codes are experiencing a profound increase of community involvement, pride, and the strengthening of our cultural identities. I commend Canada and Minister Valcourt on their continued support of the First Nations here today. In 1996 there were 14 signatory First Nations; soon there will be 110 communities once the 28 new entrants have signed their adhesion documents. However, our goal continues. Chief Louie and I will continue to work towards seeing all First Nations given the opportunity to opt out of the Indian Act and resume jurisdiction over reserve lands and resources.” The FNLM regime enables First Nations to manage their own land, resources and environment according to their own land codes, laws and policies. The regime also helps First Nations get out from under 34 landrelated limitations of the Indian Act in order to take control of their land and resources. The new First Nations signing on to the Framework Agreement are: Chippewas of the Thames, Temagami and Wasauksing from Ontario; Fisher River of Manitoba; Mistawasis of Saskatchewan and 4 British Columbia Bands; Chawathil, Katzie, Cheam and Scowlitz The next step in the process for these communities is to develop their own land codes and have them approved by their membership through community ratification votes in order to become operational under the FNLM Regime. Once approved, these communities would join the 66 other First Nation communities active in the FNLM Regime that are currently operating under or developing their own land codes.

“This signing is absolutely wonderful. Adding more First Nations into Land Management will help propel much needed economic prosperity capabilities into the lives and communities of First Nations.

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