Since the July 2010 Annual General Assembly (AGA), the National Chief has spoken at a number of events and inperson meetings in support of First Nation economies. This includes a keynote speech at the September 16th Canadian Council on Aboriginal Business (CCAB) Gala Dinner in Vancouver and at a Chief Executive Officers meeting hosted by TD Bank Vice-President Frank McKenna on October 25th.
The Chiefs Committee on Economic Development (CCED) met at the July 2010 AGA and will meet again to continue discussions during the week of the December Special Chiefs Assembly. With funding for Secretariat activity having recently been approved, the Secretariat will be in a stronger position to bring forward items on economic cooperation, trade and policy options for CCED consideration.
At the AGA, the Secretariat coordinated a First Nations and Taxation side event, as well as a First Nations and Gaming side event. Meeting summaries are available from these side events.
The Secretariat has attended a federal procurement meeting to begin exploring improvements needed for the federal strategic initiatives aimed at supporting First Nation access to contracts and provision of services. The Secretariat had a positive introductory meeting with senior federal officials playing a key role in program redesign of the procurement strategy and related programs. Since the last presentation by federal officials regarding the Federal Framework on Aboriginal Economic Development, where the CCED communicated concerns to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) on the federal framework’s development, there has yet to be a follow-up meeting. The CCED reminded INAC that with time remaining before federal designs on programs and related materials are finalized, there are still opportunities to work together to establish the necessary constructs to support First Nations economic growth.
Planning is underway for the AFN to host an Inter-Nation Mining and Energy Summit in June, 2011. The National Chief has met with Province of Ontario Ministers Brad Duguid (Energy), Michael Gravelle (Northern Development and Mines), and Chris Bentley (Aboriginal Affairs), on becoming major partners for this event. The meeting held a positive tone, and the Ministers indicated they would have their officials assess the AFN proposal. INAC has agreed to provide support to an event held this fiscal year. Private sector sponsors have also begun to communicate their interest to be involved in this event. Announcing major speakers will include highlighting the National Chief, along with Mike Holmes, Holmes on Homes, who accepted an invitation by the National Chief at the AFN AGA. The Secretariat has also begun exploratory meetings and searching for top caliber speakers and sponsors, at domestic events as well as at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) meeting in New Mexico on November 18, 2010.
The National Chief met with His Excellency Lan Lijun, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Canada on October 22, 2010. The National Chief invited the Ambassador to address the Chiefs-in-Assembly at this SCA. The Ambassador expressed much interest for this invitation, however, acknowledged that he would be starting a new assignment soon. The National Chief and the Ambassador spoke of the need to begin exploring cultural exchanges, economic and trade cooperation, trade missions and creating more awareness about each other’s nations. The AFN has planned for a side event to further explore a trade mission to China and a trade mission of businesses representatives from China to First Nations.
In follow-up to the statement of partnership signed with the National Centre for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) at the AGA, the AFN and NCAIED have drafted an action plan, met monthly via teleconference and in person, identified primary projects, and drafted steering committee terms of reference. The four primary projects are focused on trade education, information development, scoping out trade policy, and a trade model. The AFN and NCAIED have begun to discuss a trade mission between First Nation and American Indian businesses.