Squamish 101


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eDemocracy Webinar Series - Social

Webinar Summary

1:53 - Host Andrea Reimer introduces the topic, Squamish Nation's new strategic plan, and best practices for working with Indigenous community partners, as well as guests Khelsilem Rivers (Councillor for Squamish Nation) and Toby Baker (CEO of Nch'kay Group). 
6:15 - Khelsilem: Squamish Nation is fuelled by two things: constituents that are eager to see Squamish develop, and the size and high education level of the community. 
"One of the very proud aspects of being Squamish is that the Squamish nation has invested quite heavily in the education of our people...which means that we have the opportunity to participate ourselves in a lot  of enterprises, ventures, projects, initiatives, because we have built that capacity internal to our organization."
9:12 - However, there is still much work to be done, leading to the three-year Strategic Plan. Khelsilem walks through the document and the new areas they are focusing on like land-use planning. He also discusses the importance of engaging citizens on the budget and how to pay for amenities. 
"We we want to get to a place where our community can see the type of community that they want reflected back to them...And that we build community buy-in for how we would pay for that wish-list."

14:46 - First Nations government differ significantly from municipalities or local governments in some of the powers they can exercise, which means different planning processes. For example, 90% of Squamish Nation land is owned by the government, not by private interests. 

18:20 - Bio for Toby Baker, CEO of Nch'kay group, the economic development corporation created by the Squamish Nation to lead and oversee the Nation's sustainable economic development initiatives. 

20:24 - Toby Baker explains the unique context in which the economic development corporation was created. Toby discusses the significance of the Senakw affordable housing development, one of the largest Indigenous projects in the world. The project has opportunities to  'push the envelope' in a number of ways that combine Indigenous design components and a profit business model.

30:54 - One of the major challenges the project is dealing with is with transportation and transit. However, combining a Squamish lens and a local government lens could lead to new creative solutions. 

In a lot of circles, the nations are viewed as an impediment to growth. We'd like to sort of flip that thinking on its end and become a driver of creative thought...How do we help each other solve these issues together?

However, the nation is not just 'open for business' - it needs to be a partnership. The community is also coming to understand the relationship between economic development and social change. 

35:58 - Khelsilem answers the Q&A question - How do we get started? What are the best ways to get the conversation started between municipalities and First Nations?

40:41 - Khelsilem answers the Q&A question: what are his thoughts on doing land acknowledgements? 

44:54 - Q&A question for Khelsilem and Toby: How do local governments be aware of not overwhelming the capacity of the Squamish Nation with requests? How does Squamish manage the capacity issue? 

51:42 - Khelsilem and Toby address the controversy around working with the Westbank Corporation. 

57:11 - Wrap up from Andrea Reimer. 


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