Anishinabek Nation Grand Chief John Beaucage, Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement and Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Michael Bryant hold copies of the nation’s ‘Our Economic Blueprint’ last week.

By Sarah Bissonette
Parry Sound North Star

SEGUIN TWP. – The Anishinabek Nation unveiled its economic development plan last week.

The document is a step toward abolishing poverty in First Nation communities; and the First Nation’s self-governance.

“It is a historic occasion today, this is one of the first steps in our 20-year strategy to (reduce) poverty in our communities,” said Anishinabek Nation Grand Chief John Beaucage.

The Anishinabek Nation is comprised of 42 aboriginal communities, including Wasauksing, Moose Deer Point, and Henvey Inlet.

“The Anishinabek understand that building an economy is critical to the self-government process,” said Mr. Beaucage. “This marks the first step in our twenty-year strategic plan to establish self-sufficient regional and local economies.”

The document ‘Our Economic Blueprint’ outlines steps communities can follow to build a middle class.

“I think this is the most important blueprint that has been established successfully for First Nations in maybe 40 years,” said Michael Bryant, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. “It is a (fully) comprising and very specific approach, and the approach saying success will come through the growth of a First Nation middle class and that comes from economic development and that comes with jobs, and that comes with businesses and none of that comes without education.”

The document was unveiled Friday morning during a news conference at the Quality Inn.

The blueprint includes recommendations such as taking stock of where funding comes from such as government funding and business development, considers the skills available in the community and targets areas to train people in and obtain an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) classification, said Dawn Madahbee who co-chaired the economic blueprint committee.

An ISO classification is “for consumers, conformity of products and services to International Standards provides assurance about their quality, safety and reliability,” according to the organization’s website.

“(This document) is not going to sit on the shelf, it’s not going to collect dust, it’s going to be a living document,” said Mr. Beaucage to Mr. Bryant and . Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement.

Mr. Clement linked the Anishinabek Nation’s economic development plan, and $53,000 contribution towards its development by FedNor, to that of northern Ontario’s economy and the federal government continuing to work with First Nation communities.

“I’m very proud of some of the successful partnerships and programs we are starting to make in our relationship with many First Nations in Ontario and, of course, across the county,” said Mr. Clement.

Along with FedNor’s financial contribution, the province also contributed about $40,000 to the development of the document, said Mr. Bryant.