In a recent post Strategize your Aboriginal Engagement, we provided suggestions on some key actions to develop your formal in-house Aboriginal, Community Relations and Community Development Policies.
In our book, Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®, we suggest the following considerations for an effective and proactive Aboriginal Community Development Policy:
- Work with communities to identify their community and development needs
- Work with communities to develop an economic development strategy
- Allocate funding for community infrastructure
- Support, and attend if invited, community events
The last bullet above can be expanded to include:
- Be open and supportive of community cultural initiatives and events
- Be open and supportive of employment initiatives and events
- Be open and supportive of educational initiatives and events
In this post, we want to provide an example of the life changing potential of a supportive Community Development Policy. If a company has done its research and has developed a Community Development Policy that aligns with and reflects the needs and goals of a community, it can be a one of the most rewarding returns on your investment.
Here’s a community event we are supporting and attending - the Malahat Nation’s second annual fundraising Gala to support the provision of educational and cultural programs at the Nation’s newly built Kwunew Kwasun Cultural Resource Centre. This is a prime example of a diverse group of organizations working with a community to assist that community in achieving a goal.
In 2012, the Malahat Nation, on southern Vancouver Island, was selected as a community for the Write to Read project, which is an initiative under the Governor General’s literacy program. The initiative is a partnership between the Government House Foundation and Rotary Clubs of District 5040 and Britco. The goal is to provide libraries in First Nation communities throughout BC. This initiative is aimed at supporting literacy programs, learning activities and computer classes for children and adults.
For the Malahat project, two modular trailers were donated by Britco, and an architect was hired to design a culturally appropriate building that incorporated the trailers, provided space for a library and computer lab, and a community meeting space. Fundraising was begun in earnest and with the help of sponsors, business partners, supporters and community neighbors, a mere 18 months later, the Malahat Nation proudly opened the new Kwanew Kwasun Cultural Resource Centre. As you can see from the photo, the collaboration resulted in a beautiful, culturally appropriate Resource Centre.
Why is this the sort of community initiative that organizations and individuals should consider supporting? Because it demonstrates your interest in the goals of the community - it shows that you are not just interested in getting what you need from the community to further your business interests; you are giving back to and supporting the community to get what they need.
If you interested in learning more about working effectively with Aboriginal Peoples, here's a presentation on intercultural relations I gave at the Vancouver Board of Trade Aboriginal Opportunities Forum.