The first national Indigenous – Local Government Partnership Forum, which took place February 21-22, served as an opportunity to share Indigenous and local government perspectives on success factors for building relationships.
The forum was organized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando) and the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources, with funding provided by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
Participants included representatives from First Nations, Métis Nations/Settlements, their neighbouring local governments, representatives from the Government of Canada and provincial government, as well as representatives of other Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations.
As a platform to share different perspectives on the future direction of Indigenous-local government relations, the forum provided opportunities to share tools and resources and explore how to collaboratively foster reconciliation. It also showcased examples where cultural training as well as Friendship Accords have greatly reduced barriers to greater First Nation and municipality collaboration.
Many First Nations and municipalities across Canada are already engaging in collaborative efforts like Friendship Agreements, joint land use planning, municipal-type service agreements and economic development collaboration on issues like tourism, employment, and business development. FCM’s First Nation-Municipal collaboration programs, the Community Economic Development Initiative and the Community Infrastructure Partnership Project, funded by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, aim to facilitate and develop these efforts. The partnerships fostered by these initiatives have proven to be important community-building influencers in the time of truth and reconciliation and can serve as a model for greater collaboration moving forward.
« It’s been a terrific two days of sharing and learning. It’s inspiring to see how mistrust and misconception have evolved to understanding and collaboration. I’m proud of the role that Cando has played in facilitating the CEDI program, in partnership with FCM, and funded by the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, in order to help communities achieve a high level of engagement. This is hard work, but we now realize that it’s critical if we are to move forward. This Partnership Forum has shown us that Indigenous and local government collaboration works and so Cando encourages that the CED I program be not only extended but expanded to meet the growing demand from many more communities. »
- Keith Matthew, Cando President
« The journey of reconciliation will take a committed national effort over generations. The partnerships we are forming and conversations like the ones we had throughout this event are important steps on the road stretched out ahead of us. This work would be impossible without our partners at Cando, the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Our collective commitment to this national priority is helping pave the way toward reconciliation. »
- Jenny Gerbasi, FCM President