First Nation economic development is a critical component to any First Nation's ability to achieve true self reliance and determine their path of building and strengthening wellbeing of the Nation and its members. The improvement of a First Nation's wellbeing is truly a holistic journey, and the importance of First Nation economic development activities as part of this process is critical to achieving common goals of healthy, sustainable, prosperous and independent First Nations.
The economic development focus of the Nanwakolas Council includes: providing advisory and planning services to support member First Nations business / economic project developments. In 2012, the Nanwakolas Regional Economic Development Strategic Plan was completed with engagement and participation from seven participating First Nations. Intended outcomes of the Strategic Plan were to inform and strengthen the various current and potential business and economic activities of the individual member First Nations, and help to maximize the returns to their communities through regional coordination of the business and economic activities of the member First Nations.
Through various implementation activities of the regional economic strategy some common capacity constraints and other community development needs, such as communications processes and training and employment of community members started to be revealed. As a result, Nanwakolas and five member First Nations embarked on an additional planning process that focused on the Community Wellbeing and Capacity needs of the members. The outcome was a Nanwakolas Community Wellbeing and Capacity Strengthening Plan which was completed in September 2014. Implementation of this plan has been underway since then and has included multiple projects and initiatives to support capacity strengthening in areas of:
- communications processes;
- leadership skills development; and,
- database / information systems management.
Implementation activities have also been underway in multiple community wellbeing areas, including:
- Increasing resource management capacity (Watchman training and education)
- Supporting individual First Nations cultural wellbeing projects (e.g. language and place names, traditional stewardship practices documentation)
- Supporting increased youth engagement at the Nation levels
- Development of a Nanwakolas Training and Employment Strategy.
The Nanwakolas Training and Employment Strategy was completed in August 2016. This is a key piece of work originating out of the Community Wellbeing and Capacity Strengthening plan; for the reason that meaningful employment is understood as a foundation that contributes to and enables so many other areas of family and community wellbeing.
Implementation of the Nanwakolas Training and Employment Strategy is now underway. Watch for community specific and regional initiatives aimed at supporting the multiple training, education and employment needs of our Nations' members.