City and Fort William First Nation Collaborate on Economic Development
Representatives from the City of Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation participated in the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) today, a national program delivered jointly by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers.
This is one of four partnerships in Canada to embark on a five-year First Nations-Municipal collaboration program. CEDI seeks to improve economic prosperity through joint community economic development and land use planning.
“We are thrilled to participate in this important initiative with Fort William First Nation,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs. “We have recognized for years that working together to address our economic challenges will strengthen our relationship and the regional economy, and move our communities forward.”
As Canada turns its focus on reconciliation, and recognizing that long-term relationships are anchored in a solid foundation, the CEDI experience opens the way for First Nations and neighbouring municipal communities to create economic and social advantages.“We are confident that our common goals for local economic development will foster benefits that extend to many other aspects of community building, and will help us explore ways to strengthen our communities
even more,” said Chief Peter Collins, Fort William First Nation.The Initiative enables participating communities to benefit from workshops, study tours, and peer mentorship to help build strong
partnerships and capacity for joint economic development planning, strong inter-community relationships, and improve the quality of life for all residents.
Peter Collins, Chief Fort William First Nation
“We are looking at developing a stronger economic development regime between the City of Thunder Bay and the Fort William First Nation through the CEDI program and step in a new direction that could create a positive future for our communities. It is a step we needed to take
and has been a long time coming. It is about building sustainable futures.”
“ We want to enhance the lands we have at the FWFN and the lands that the city has in Thunder Bay and take it from there and see where we can go. Resolute is a prime example of how an industry can be developed to positive spin on both communities. Right now about 75% of the employees at the Resolute Saw Mill come from Thunder Bay. We are looking to create a brighter future for our kids and take that despair away.”
“ FWFN has 1100 people that live in the community and just about 1100 that come and work at FWFN right now. Hopefully in the next 5 years we will have good results with this initiate. Right now between on and off reserve people our unemployment rate is about 50%.”
“We are building our own houses and roads and have crushing going on here. The housing development had 8 different general contractors on site and 40 different families got to eat and enjoyed the opportunities to build the homes and they are occupied today. We did 8 homes last year and are hoping to do 11 this year plus 4 or 5 duplexes and some some smaller granny homes.”
“This program is about taking the declaration we made with the city in 2011 to a new direction and accomplish good things for both communities. It is about NW Ontario in its entirely and more jobs.”
“The closed James Street bridge has an impact on future development. Those over 1000 people that come to work here still have to get here to work. It has hindered our movement in creating economic development and an issue we get asked about. The ultimate goal is to create wealth and give our youth jobs.”
Linda Rydholm, Neebing Ward Councilor
“The workshop is about how we can work together in economic development. We hope to settle on some projects in our area that might work say in tourism, manufacturing, agriculture or so many different areas and see what is the best fit. We are excited to be one of 5 groups chosen from over 80 applications. We want good paying jobs here. Today has been very positive. I think there is great potential here. If we can have more good paying jobs and middle class jobs it will good
for our people. The time line for this work is years.”
Helen Patterson Program Manager CEDI, FCM
“ In Canada First Nations have a relationship with the Federal Government and municipalities have a relationship with the provincial government so there is no venue to work together to do joint planning. This is an opportunity to start this work together. We began this approach with 5 communities including Sioux Lookout with a food distribution project.”