Fort William First Nation and the City of Thunder Bay, ON

Unique Features of this Partnership

This partnership is unique as it involves the Fort William First Nation and City of Thunder Bay councils, along with each community’s economic development corporation. These partners will participate in CEDI between 2016-2020.

Areas of Collaboration – Joint CED Themes

  • Collaborating on Economic Development and Land Use Planning; with a focus on preparing and designing Fort William First Nation industrial lands for new tenants
  • Leveraging partnership as investor attraction in joint applications and bids
  • Strengthening the partnership building on a 2011 Declaration of Commitment


  • Successfully engaged federal and provincial funders for support in developing Fort William First Nation’s Industrial Land and have received over $260,000 in funding to support the design and marketing for the Fort William’s industrial lands. Half of the funding was awarded by Indigenous Services Canada and half from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. This is a great example of four levels of government collaborating, with federal and provincial governments supporting joint economic development between First Nations and municipalities.  
  • Submitted a joint bid for Noront ferrochrome smelter
  • Submitted joint application to the Smart Cities Challenge
  • Co-presented at the 25th Annual Cando Conference in Enoch, AB in 2018
  • Co-Presented at the ISC’s “Ontario Gathering”, Toronto

Why Work Together?

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.

- Chief Peter Collins, Fort William First Nation

We signed our Declaration of Commitment in 2011. I feel that, through our collaboration in the CEDI program and the relationships we’ve built, this is the first time we have truly lived up to those commitments.

- Linda Rydholm, former Councillor for City of Thunder Bay

The CEDI process has been positive for my community. This collaboration between Municipal and First Nation communities is something I have pushed for many years. The facilitation your organization provides is a large part of its success in our partnership with the City. Having a facilitator enables the parties to work together better; neither party is ‘lead’ and both have equal input this way.

- Michael Pelletier Senior, Director of Economic Development, Fort William First Nation

Next Steps

This partnership graduated from the CEDI program and plan to continue to work collaboratively to develop and implement their identified joint economic development initiatives. Their areas of interest for the coming year, include:

  • Following an RFP process ending May 15th, FWFN will award a contract to an engineering firm with the goal of creating an engineering/design layout plan (including all related required infrastructure) of industrial lots for the Fort William First Nation’s Industrial Land. Three options would be produced by the consulting group, all keeping with the theme of maximizing land use options and investment return for FWFN. 
  • Formalizing their joint economic development working group for the long term through a term of reference passed by their respective councils