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Indigenous learnings honour two chiefs

The youngest council member for Ochapowace Nation, Albert George, turns his attention to the front of the room, fully engaged in celebrating the achievement of Chief Ross Allary. The first of seven Ochapowace council members to accept the Certificate of Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence at The Banff Centre, Chief Allary steps to the front wearing full ceremonial headdress. He accepts the congratulations of the room and says a few words of thanks to his fellow council members, his community back home, and the many Indigenous people he’s met in the six programs he has completed.

Albert George of the Ochapowace First Nation.

Albert George of the Ochapowace First Nation.

The Ochapowace Nation made a decision to embark together on the six-program Certificate path to honour the vision set out by the late Ochapowace Chief Denton George, Albert’s father, whose 20 years in leadership had stood for fulfillment of treaty, and his Nation’s inherent right to self-governance. Chief Denton George died at age 58 in 2009. “He was the one who had kept us united in our community,” said band council member Geraldine Bear. “With his passing, we knew it was time to focus on our constitution and our laws, and reorganizing our nation.”

Geraldine has found that Chief Denton George’s lessons and vision were more deeply ingrained than she had even thought possible. “As younger councillors, we’d heard the words (about inherent right and self-governance), but never really knew how do we get there, what does that mean for us. Yet when faculty talked about it in the programs, we knew it, it was already there, it was ingrained in us ever since we were young people.”

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100th certificate awarded in Banff Centre’s Indigenous Leadership programs

B.J. Paddy holds her Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence, with Elder Tom Crane Bear (left), and Brian Calliou, director for Indigenous Leadership and Management at The Banff Centre (right). Photo: Kim Williams, The Banff Centre.

B.J. Paddy holds her Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence, with Elder Tom Crane Bear, spiritual and cultural advisor to programs (left), and Brian Calliou, director for Indigenous Leadership and Management at The Banff Centre (right). Photo: Kim Williams, The Banff Centre.

B. J. Paddy stepped up to the podium recently to celebrate a major milestone in her career as a leader. What she didn’t realize was that she would also be celebrating an important day marked by The Banff Centre’s Indigenous Leadership and Management program area.

Paddy, the executive director for Red Deer Aboriginal Employment Services, was the 100th recipient of the Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence, which signified that she has joined 99 other Indigenous leaders before her who have chosen the same path.

As a guest at the wrap-up luncheon for the program, Inherent Right to Indigenous Governance, I heard Paddy echo sentiments similar to those I have heard from many participants in the Indigenous Leadership programs. She mentioned the life-long friendships she has made, the invaluable lessons she has taken back to her role and to her community, as well as the deep appreciation she has for sponsors who have helped fund her learning through six programs.

“I would not have been able to come here without their help,” Paddy said, “as I come from a very small organization, and we don’t always have the money for my training.”

The first recipient of the Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence, in February 2001, was Brenda Etienne of Kanesatake, Quebec, who now sits on the Indigenous Program Council.

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Film shares Indigenous communities’ wise practices and success stories

In the midst of Idle No More, Canada’s news machine and opinion pages have been filled with images, dialogue, debate, and, in my opinion, some frighteningly stereotypical characterizations of this land’s Indigenous peoples.

This video produced at The Banff Centre offers a refreshing perspective on contemporary Indigenous communities that have achieved success with economic and community development projects. It tells the positive stories of the persistence and hard work that have led to four very successful Alberta enterprises – Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, Alberta Indian Investment Corporation, Metis Crossing, and Mikisew Group of Companies.

This 45-minute documentary video was produced by our Film & Media department. It was created during a two-and-a-half-year research project investigating wise practices in Indigenous communities in Alberta, led by Indigenous Leadership and Management at The Banff Centre and supported by Rural Alberta’s Development Fund and the Nexen Chair in Indigenous Leadership.

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Indigenous youth reshaping the future

Three members of the youth cohort for the Best Practices in Rural Alberta Project, Crystal Jackson, Andrea Kastendieck, and Sarah Kastendieck , visited Metis Crossing with Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux to learn about this successful Indigenous community.

Three members of the youth cohort for the Best Practices in Rural Alberta Project, Crystal Jackson, Andrea Kastendieck, and Sarah Kastendieck , visited Metis Crossing with Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux to learn about this successful Indigenous community. Photo: Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux

We have all been young Canadians at some time and voiced our opinion on the direction of this country. Some of us have even taken the path to political representation once we got old enough to be taken seriously.  Today’s  youth have the kind of insight and skill at building connections that could no doubt turn around the most jaded political consciousness.  A disconnect for youth, however – something we’ve heard with every generation – is the fact they often don’t join their elders in making their statements. Too bad, because they aren’t busy rehashing the past, they are reshaping the future, and have the energy, determination, and access to social media to do it. A surprising number aren’t looking for status symbols or economic success, because that’s so yesterday.  Instead, Canadian youth are mobilizing in provinces like Alberta, Ontario, and across Canada, joining Indigenous voices to reclaim a shadowed history, challenge reckless economic development, and rebuild morale and strength at home where it counts the most. Continue Reading →

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Wise lessons learned from Alberta’s Indigenous communities

Simone Antoine-Schwair assembles high-strength slings being manufactured at Mikisew Industrial Supply in Edmonton. Mikisew Group of Companies was one of the research communities included in the wise practices research project undertaken by Indigenous Leadership and Management.Photo: Gavin Young

Simone Antoine-Schwair assembles high-strength slings being manufactured at Mikisew Industrial Supply in Edmonton. Mikisew Group of Companies is one of the research communities included in the wise practices research project undertaken by Indigenous Leadership and Management. Photo: Gavin Young

We need fearless storytelling more than ever.” Dr. Laura Brearley, an Australian academic and expert in creative approaches to research, had these powerful words for a gathering of researchers, academics, youth, elders, and Indigenous leaders from across Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.

Brearley’s keynote address in September at The Banff Centre’s Wise Practices in Indigenous Community Development Symposium touched on profound lessons for community leaders seeking positive change.

The sharing of stories – and how they inspire, are communicated, and learned from – was a key theme of the symposium, which was the culmination of a two-and-a-half year “Best Practices in Rural Alberta” applied research project led by Indigenous Leadership and Management at The Banff Centre with the support of the Rural Alberta Development Fund and Nexen.

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Frog Lake First Nations working together to “change the conversation”

Elaine Carter, Verna Waskahat, and Donna Lewis, colleagues in Frog Lake First Nations’ economic development office, received their Certificates of Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence in May 2012. Photo by Kim Williams

Elaine Carter is one of a dozen members of Frog Lake First Nations’ administrative team who have set out together on a new, collaborative path, learning a new way of addressing the future of their community located two and a half hours northeast of Edmonton.

Carter began working as Economic Development Director at Frog Lake First Nations in 2010, and was tasked with developing a long-range economic development plan for the two closely linked First Nations. A year later, it became clear that staff training would help support her team in their work. With a training strategy focused on getting the group to work strategically as a team, the decision was made to complete the Certificate of Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence at The Banff Centre together as a group.

Carter and two of her team were the first to attain their Certificates in May. Several more members of FLFNs’ administration team, including two who are leading youth programs, will begin their certificate path in the autumn.

“Our ultimate goal is to have everyone have the same vision, the same strategic direction,” said Carter. “The main focus is for us to work together to redevelop and revise our strategic plan. We’re looking at five-year planning, 10-year, 25, and perhaps long-term 50 to 100 years.” Continue Reading →

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