Reg Ogen, from the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, was invited to present his Nation’s Economic Development Plan. His talk on February 26 2016 showcased their strategy utilizing multiple contracts and partnerships. He also emphasized how proposal writing has been key to help run their training and capacity building programs.
Reg has been a Council member for more than ten years. Reg explained that during his time as a council member his Nation relied heavily on INAC and a proposed LNG facility. Instead of waiting for their proposed LNG facility to stimulate their economy, the Nation decided to find a more immediate solution to their economic position. In order for their Nation to achieve its goals, the first step was to create a company. After bringing it to Council and having it approved, they began the planning.
Wet’suwet’en named its company the Yinka Dene Economic Development Limited Partnership (YLP). It was during the planning stages that Reg was introduced to Huu-ay-aht’s Elected Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr.
“I’ve always had a vision that you just put the gas pedal on for us. Thank you for that and thank you for inviting me to your community to talk about our successes,” Reg said to Robert.
Quite quickly, Wet’suwet’en’s company was working really well. Its teams of legal, consultation, accommodation, business and Council were working like a well-oiled machine, Reg explained. The next step was to get the people on board. This is something Reg admits his Nation still struggles to make happen.
“We have a number of opportunities on the table for people to take advantage of, but they refuse for various reasons.”
While most of the citizens are eager for work and training, some are still stuck in an unproductive mindset.
The YLP is constantly looking under every rock to find new opportunities – no contract is too small. The team is not afraid to ask for what they want. They often found the small contracts that did not offer much in a financial profit, but provided a more direct influence for their community in ways of employment.
“When a small contact comes up and I have an opportunity to put someone to work, that’s my pay day,” Reg says.
After the company was up and running, they looked at the Nation’s strategic plan and decided it needed to be updated. The community really came together in the planning. In order to have a healthy running community, economic plan or administration team, people need to be healthy. That is why health and wellness is the first of the Nations’ four pillars.
Wet’suwet’en’s four pillars helped shape the economic development plan and keep its priorities focused on the community and its members. The goal of YLP is to partner with the Government and industry to have a positive impact on the economy of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
Through the Nations’ many partnerships and subcontractors, the Wet’suwet’en First Nation has established an economic development plan that compliments both its community and neighbours.