Haisla and district econonmic partnership program turns two

Kitimat and Haisla Nation honoured with economic reconciliation award

The District of Kitimat and the Haisla Nation have jointly won the BC Economic Development Association’s Economic Reconciliation Award. This recognition, in the under 20,000 population category, highlights the success of their partnership through the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI), which began in March 2022.

The collaboration is rooted in the necessity for the two governments to collaborate during the initial planning of the LNG Canada project. Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith says the CEDI partnership has now provided a foundation for a continued relationship into the future.

“It’s absolutely fabulous to win this award,” she said. “It’s a great example of how collaboration and the willingness to work with any entity can contribute to the improved quality of our members’ lives. It is definitely a great feeling to be here, knowing where our two communities can go when we actually put our minds together for the betterment of all the people in our region.”

The CEDI program was designed to tackle economic development challenges through a respectful and equitable partnership. It emphasizes enhancing economic prosperity by fostering joint community economic development and land-use planning between the Haisla Nation and the municipality.

Guided by a working group of councillors and staff from both the District and the Haisla Nation Council (HNC), with additional support from CEDI staff, the program includes monthly workgroup meetings, bi-annual workshops, and tools for relationship and capacity building.

Since its inception, CEDI has yielded significant achievements, including strengthened inter-governmental relationships, the introduction of a district-level Indigenous Hiring Program, and the creation of an Indigenous Relations Manager position. There has also been routine collaboration on cultural projects and the development of a formal relationship agreement.

“This recognition really validates the work we have been doing with Haisla Nation Council.,” Kitimat Mayor Phill Germuth said. “It has been a valuable process and has set the framework for how we can work together and collaborate for years to come. It’s great that this work is being recognized and can be looked to by other communities who may want to embark on similar journeys.”

Current projects under the CEDI include the development of a Memorandum of Understanding for a potential shared Museum and Cultural Facility, and the refinement of land processes to improve future road access to Minette Bay West Park.

Originally set to expire in February of this year, the two-year program was extended until late spring to allow for the formal closure of the program and the planning of a celebratory public event to mark its successful tenure.

About the Author: Quinn Bender

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