Thursday , 20 July 2017

First Nations Chief Speaks on New Partnerships at Economic Summit

Chief Shawn Atleo

Chief Shawn Atleo

Aboriginal leader Shawn Atleo is speaking at the Economic Summit in Nanaimo providing insights from forging partnerships during his first year in office.

As  Shqwi qwal (‘speaker’ in the Hulquminum language), Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is charged with facilitating conversations between BC’s First Nations, government and industry to foster understanding and help build partnerships.

Chief Atleo will provide insights from roundtable discussions with industry, government and First Nations leaders focused on opportunities for mutual benefit in our evolving society and economy.

George Hanson, president of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, which is hosting the summit, says Atleo’s speech will demonstrate the important connections between First Nations and non-aboriginals.

“The intent is that there’s so many treaties being completed and negotiated,” says Hanson. “We’re finally starting to see the beginnings to resolutions that have been going on for years. There’s land involved, timber involved, economic and construction projects.”

Hanson says there are 50 First Nations on Vancouver Island alone in various stages of economic development. There are new partnerships in Port Alberni, Ladysmith, on the Malahat, Victoria and in Esquimalt.

“There’s a lot changing on Vancouver Island and B.C. in regards to First Nations and the economy,” says Hanson.  “We think it’s extremely positive and we’re going to see significant economic impact and change over the next number of years.”

As a Hereditary Chief from the Ahousaht First Nation, Atleo was first elected in 2009 as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and re-elected in 2012 with an overwhelming majority of support from First Nations across Canada. Before that he served two terms as the regional chief of the BC AFN.

In 2014, Premier Christy Clark named Chief Atleo to head BC’s first Shqwi qwal for Indigenous Dialogue. The Shqwi qwal office is housed within VIU’s new Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation.

“Through his work Chief Atleo embodies the University’s purpose – to challenge people to explore complex issues and to work together to find solutions that will build strong, inclusive economies and a resilient society, ” says Ralph Nilson, President & Vice-Chancellor, VIU.

The Economic Summit is scheduled October 28/29 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo.