White­cap model in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - Local - By Lisa Mrazek

Af­ter the White­cap Dakota First Na­tion won the CANDO award for eco­nomic de­vel­oper of the year Thurs­day night, the hum­ble com­mu­nity of only 245 mem­bers is ex­cited to be an in­spi­ra­tion to var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties all across Canada.

“We are very happy that we are mov­ing for­ward, that is what we want to see, but we can’t go around and boast,” said Chief Darcy Bear of White­cap Dakota. “There is no doubt that eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ex­cites me; that’s al­ways been my strong point and there is al­ways sat­is­fac­tion when you see one project com­plete.”

But the White­cap com­mu­nity has seen many projects com­pleted, Bear out­lined in his nom­i­na­tion plat­form Thurs­day af­ter­noon at the Radis­son Ho­tel, where the other fi­nal­ist, On­tario’s At­tawapiskat First Na­tion, also made a pre­sen­ta­tion. Not only is the com­mu­nity in the process of build­ing an elab­o­rate Casino, but Golf Digest mag­a­zine re­cently praised its Dakota Dunes as the best new golf course in Canada.

Ray Wanuch, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of CANDO (Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of Na­tive De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cers), said th­ese projects are great ex­am­ples of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives from First Na­tions peo­ple.

“They are com­pet­ing with the best of the best and they are mak­ing money,” said Wanuch. “I think those sto­ries are equally as great and they come from all over the place.”

Vaughn Sun­day, di­rec­tor of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment at the Mo­hawk Coun­cil of Ak­we­sasne and On­tario di­rec­tor of CANDO, went even fur­ther to praise White­cap’s ac­com­plish­ments. He said the sec­ond-largest First Na­tions group in Canada, re­sid­ing in On­tario, is work­ing on de­vel­op­ing a land code and by­laws for busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion, mar­i­tal dis­pute and as­set di­vi­sion — all ar­eas White­cap has al­ready im­ple­mented.

“I be­lieve White­cap is a model First Na­tion for all of Canada, re­gard­less of the fact that they are small,” said Sun­day. “If you look at their gov­ern­ment struc­ture, their prof­itabil­ity, they are just a model and with strong lead­er­ship — Chief Darcy Bear has a na­tional rep­u­ta­tion.”

He ex­plained how Bear’s lead­er­ship spreads through­out Canada, from his per­spec­tive as a prac­tis­ing eco­nomic de­vel­oper.

“Those good news sto­ries go across the coun­try and peo­ple like Darcy will say, ‘This is how we did it,’ so peo­ple in other places across Canada can save them­selves some mis­takes and take short cuts by work­ing on (White­cap’s) ex­pe­ri­ence and us­ing them as a model for what we should be do­ing in the rest of Canada.”

But once one project is com­plete, he said he im­me­di­ately pulls the next chal­lenge off the shelf and gets started.

Ideas cur­rently on the shelf in­clude the ad­di­tion of nine more holes on its ac­claimed golf course and cre­at­ing a twin arena com­plex.

lm­[email protected]

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