The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has the honour to table its SIXTH REPORT
Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, May 9, 2006, to examine and report on the involvement of Aboriginal communities and businesses in economic development activities in Canada, now tables its final report entitled Sharing Canada’s Prosperity – A Hand Up, Not A Handout.
Original signed by
GERRY ST. GERMAIN, P.C.
Business key to aboriginal success: report
Last Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2007- CBC News
Aboriginal communities must establish successful economies if they ever hope to conquer poverty and social problems, according to new report by a Senate committee — but they'll need a lot of help to make that happen.
Members of the standing Senate committee on aboriginal peoples were in Winnipeg Thursday to promote the committee's new report, tabled Tuesday.
The report, entitled Sharing Canada's Prosperity — A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out, calls for changes to the Indian Act and increased government support for aboriginal business development.
The committee spent more than two years examining what helps First Nations achieve business success in Ontario, the Prairie provinces, British Columbia, northern Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec.
In dozens of communities, the committee found "involvement in economic development activities has done more to change the lives of aboriginal people in the last decade than any number of government programs," the report said.
Manitoba-born senator Gerry St. Germain said a huge roadblock for First Nations that want to go into business is the snail's pace at which governments are settling land claims.
"I've worked with … some various chiefs here in Manitoba, and I know if these treaty land entitlements, additions to reserves and specific claims are resolved, they will have economic generators in their community that would create tremendous opportunities for their people," he said.
Business a relatively new concept
Nick Sibbeston, the committee's deputy chair, said the committee acknowledged that building strong economies on First Nations can be difficult, especially on remote reserves,"where there's apathy, where people are simply not organized and in a position to do business."
"Business requires a higher level of commitment and organization. I would have to say that in some of the bigger centres, they are more apt to have had this training and business culture."
Canadians may not realize how new business is to First Nations, he said.
"I can speak mostly from the North, because we just come from a cultural background of hunting and trapping, the last 30, 40, 50 years, and that was a simpler way of making a living," said Sibbeston, an aboriginal senator from the Northwest Territories.
"When you enter the business world, it's more complicated and it's different. You really need to be organized, work at the speed of businesses and so forth. It takes some time to acquire that."
Governments need to create more educational and financial support for aboriginal businesses, the committee recommends.
The report also calls for a radical overhaul to the Indian Act, especially where land ownership is concerned, saying that because of the act, "market forces do not operate properly on Indian lands," deterring or raising the cost of doing business on reserves.