First Na­tion com­mu­ni­ties want to study eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE -

MEM­BER­TOU — The five First Na­tion com­mu­ni­ties in Cape Bre­ton is­sued a re­quest for pro­pos­als last week for a study that will pri­mar­ily fo­cus on eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.

The Unama’ki Eco­nomic Ben­e­fits Of­fice wants to gather facts on the amount of money each abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity spends on goods and ser­vices.

It’s also fo­cused on max­i­miz­ing abo­rig­i­nal par­tic­i­pa­tion in large in­dus­try and ma­jor in­dus­trial projects in Cape Bre­ton.

The dead­line for pro­pos­als is Fri­day and it’s ex­pected the study will take four months to com­plete.

Dan Christ­mas, chair of the Unama’ki Eco­nomic Ben­e­fits steer­ing com­mit­tee, said he’s proud to see abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of Cape Bre­ton, in­clud­ing the $400-mil­lion Syd­ney tar ponds and coke ovens cleanupt.

“ Th­ese busi­nesses are gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, build­ing ca­pac­ity and prov­ing them­selves,” Christ­mas said in a release.

“ The suc­cess of this unique part­ner­ship may well prove to be the true legacy of the tar ponds cleanup project.”

Since the of­fice opened in July 2007, it has se­cured more than $19 mil­lion in con­tracts with the cleanup.

It also de­vel­oped and se­cured fund­ing for a multi-year, mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar train­ing pro­gram for the five Unama’ki com­mu­ni­ties. This $7-mil­lion train­ing pro­gram is known as the Abo­rig­i­nal Skills Em­ploy­ment Part­ner­ship.

The Unama’ki Eco­nomic Ben­e­fits Of­fice is now looking be­yond the tar ponds cleanup and is now pur­su­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially those as­so­ci­ated with port de­vel­op­ment, the en­vi­ron­ment and clean en­ergy, Christ­mas said.

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