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Haisla and district econonmic partnership program turns two

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Gareth Manderson, Crystal Smith, Phil Germuth and tour coordinator Miranda Ross during the reopening of the tour office in 2022. (File photo)

A local initiative aimed at harmonising the economic visions of Kitimat and Kitamaat Village for mutual prosperity has been extended several weeks. The extension of the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) program will now continue until late spring this year, beyond its initial two-year schedule set to conclude this March. The extension is to facilitate the program’s formal closure and the planning of a celebratory public event to mark its success.

CEDI, funded by Indigenous Services Canada and delivered jointly by Cando and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), focuses on enhancing economic prosperity through joint community economic development and land use planning between First Nations and municipalities.

“This program has meant the Haisla Nation is more involved in the work of the municipality than it ever has before,” Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith said. “This is really good for our communities, and for the Haisla people who can see our Nation reflected more in the work being done by the District.”

The initiative includes monthly workgroup meetings, bi-annual workshops, and tools for relationship and capacity building, guided by a Working Group comprising councillors and staff from both the District and HNC, with support from CEDI staff.

Achievements of the program so far include strengthened inter-governmental relationships, the launch of a district-level Indigenous Hiring Program and the creation of an Indigenous Relations Manager position, deep collaboration on cultural projects, and the development of a formal relationship agreement and strategic plan.

Further initiatives are underway, including the development of a Memorandum of Understanding for a potential shared Museum and Cultural Facility and the refinement of land processes for future road access to Minette Bay West Park.

“This program puts Haisla Nation Council and the District of Kitimat on the same page for many initiatives,” Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth said. “The public is already seeing the benefits of this process take shape in the community.”

—with files from Gerry Leibel