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Indigenous Program Researcher

picture of the community hall
It is the first time in history that First Nations have a say to this magnitude what happens in their territories

Net Impact as part of their mission statement as emerging business leaders is to make a positive environmental, social and economic impact in the Vancouver community by advocating responsible and sustainable business practices. Presented a collaborative circle discussion at the Segal Graduate School of Business, SFU

Asking the questions:

As citizens and people involved in business and other social and economic activity, we can be part of the problem or part of the solution with regard to the poor economic, educational and health outcomes in the aboriginal population. What is the current situation in BC and Canada? How did we get to this point?  What can anyone do about it?

The following were their guest speakers:

David Jimmie is the Chief and CEO of Squiala First Nation, President of Ch-ihl-kway-uhk Forestry Limited Partnership and Vice-President of Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe. As one of the younger Chief’s in the country, he has strived to provide educational and employment opportunities for his community members and other First Nations through economic development . David also believes in the importance of maintaining strong cultural roots.  David owned and operated a construction company for 8 years before coming back to his community and offering his experience in helping the Nation move forward. David has travelled to 24 countries and feels that it is important to experience other cultures in order to help understand and appreciate what you have at home.    

Squiala First Nation Website 

Shain Jackson is Coast Salish from the community of Sechelt.  He is a lawyer who has represented the interests of Aboriginal communities and organizations throughout British Columbia in relation to a broad array of issues.  After years devoted to the legal profession Shain has taken a break to follow his passion as an artist. Currently Shain is the President of Spirit Works Limited, an Aboriginal owned, operated and staffed company focused on the design, production and distribution of Aboriginal artwork such as jewelry, bentwood boxes, paddles, and so on. Shain has always taken very seriously his responsibilities not only to his own community, but to the urban Aboriginal community at large.  Further to this, through his company Spirit Works, Shain: has developed programs aimed at providing employment and training to Aboriginal youth; donates space, equipment and expertise to Aboriginal artists in need; consistently donates time and artwork to numerous charitable organizations; has designed and facilitated workshops aimed at providing cultural teachings for at-risk Aboriginal youth; and much more. 


Dr. Mark Selman is the director of the Executive MBA cohort for Aboriginal 
Business and Leadership. He is also responsible for directing other 
customized versions of the EMBA, including a long-running program with Teck 
Resources. Mark began his professional life as an entrepreneur involved in 
both construction and manufacturing. In his mid thirties, he returned to 
university to complete his undergraduate degree and doctorate, both at UBC.

Mark joined the 
Faculty of Business Administration full-time in 2000, where he founded the 
Learning Strategies Group. Because Mark was working with Alcan, he was asked 
by Milton Wong, then Chancellor of SFU, to assist the Haisla First Nation to 
develop a community learning plan that would complement their economic 
development initiatives. This led to a multi-year relationship involving 
planning, implementation and leadership development as well as to several 
other major projects with First Nations including courses on the use of real 
estate development as an economic development strategy, planning and 
coordination of education and economic development strategies with Turning 
Point, and a leadership role with Ahp-cii-uk ("going the right way" in 
Nuu-chah-nulth), a leadership initiative with three Nuu-chah-nulth 

Executive MBA in aboriginal business and leadership at SFU 

Silvana Costa, Ph.D.
 Dr. Silvana Costa is a community planner whose career has focused on socially responsible natural resources development. Silvana’s career has included the investigation of mutually beneficial ways the extractive sector can address the increasing expectations of local communities, local governments and Aboriginal groups for improved built, natural and social environments. Her expertise involves environmental management systems, environmental assessment (BC), stakeholder engagement management and Aboriginal consultation, community development and socio-economic and cultural impact assessments, involuntary resettlement and social risk management. As the Environment and Social Responsibility (ESR) Coordinator for New Gold Inc. (Vancouver, BC), Silvana is involved in planning and implementation of corporate initiatives related to environmental management and social responsibility, corporate policy and standards development and implementation, the development of sustainable development strategies and policies as well as sustainability reporting.  Her work includes close coordination with sites to continuously improve ESR performance in a way which respects the expectations of New Gold’s investors, local communities, regulators and other stakeholders. 

Newgold website  

As FNSA members Alissa Derrick and I felt this was an event we should attend. As it was the first of its kind to be offered through Net Impact at SFU. To my surprise the room was full of students from both SFU and UBC, MBA candidates that felt the importance of learning more about a culture they were to one day have to work with in business situations. 

Accomplished First Nations and Non Aboriginal business owners were in attendance to voice their insights and opinions into the subject of finding a way forward in business with First Nations.

Here are what I see for myself the take aways from the open space collaboration.


It is the first time in history that First Nations have a say to this magnitude what happens in their territories. Work is still in progress this is certain but it is a unique time for First Nations in business development and resource consultation.  Due to historical set backs dating 200 years including epidemics, assimilation, and disenfranchisement First Nations have never been in a place of power. 

Duty to Consult

In the past business has been thought of a being amoral when pushing through business deals concerning First Nations lands or bordering properties. Now with the First Nations increased resources and political power that dynamic is quickly changing.  There is a tougher stance on duty to consult with the First Nations prior to development. 


With programs like the new Beedie School of Business Executive MBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership First Nation opportunities of capacity are increasing.  In the last convocation 58 Aboriginal Graduates walked across the podium at Simon Fraser University. Undergraduate, Master and Phd students continuing their journeys in many facets of industry, extremely empowering to think First Nations are taking it upon themselves to excel at this level of education and inspire the next generation of students like myself to reach for excellence. It was said at the Net impact talk that we can not teach others to be self-sufficient but we can inspire them. 

Creating Relationships

There is a era of re association currently impacting the way Canadians and multinational companies are expected to do business, it is virtually impossible to conduct business without First Nations cooperation causing companies to improve their relationships. It is all about relationships whether you are small, medium or big business their are relationships to be built between the First Nations Communities. There is an importance to not only reach out to the Chiefs and Council members of these communities but also the elders and other members who the decisions will impact.  

“Joint ventures are the only way forward until we can bring the capacity” Chief David Jimmie 

True to his word Chief Jimmie invited all in attendance that night to join his nation in honoring those who helped to create the Squiala First Nation community hall. A beautiful building created with the help of non First Nations business contractors, architects and journey men. 

It was a wonderful experience and I am happy to have attended both the enlightening talk as well as the ceremony to highlight this new era of business ventures.

Indigenous Program Researcher
visibility  128
Sep 21, 2012

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