Panel: Walking the Path of Engagement and Knowing Where It Leads

9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20, 2016.

Shane Gottfriedson, BC Regional Chief, Assembly of First Nations
Keith Henry, President, BC Métis Federation (Kelly S. Davison, BCMF Consultation Director)
Dallas Smith, President, Nanwakolas Council

Conference Chair
Rose Klukas, Economic Development Officer, City of Campbell River


• What are the steps to consultation and variances depending on community and project?

All project consultation plans should be developed-lead by-the communities being consulted, and all consultation should start with a face to face meeting. 

There many ways that that term “consultation” (i.e. engagement) is enacted by government(s) and proponents: letters, open houses, community meetings, knowledge sharing, environmental assessment, etc. These strategies interact with the expectations and protocols of the communities being consulted, and produce different results accordingly. 

• How does “meaningful engagement” differ from other types of engagement you have encountered?

“Meaningful engagement” is a notion that is defined by specific communities on a project-to-project basis. To me, meaningful engagement activities are lead (directed by) the community (community-centred). They are strategic in that they address or reduce barriers to participation, are mindful of local policies and governance, and honour the experiences, knowledge and concerns of the community partners. 

• How does one achieve deeper trust between a community and industry partners, and what can this mean for long-term gains?

Fundamentally, trust is about accountability and in the modern business world, is most usually established through formal contracts, agreements and memoranda which outline terms of mutual benefit and the process for dispute resolution. Accountability can diminish uncertainty. 

• What do you see as the greatest barrier for industry looking to engage with First Nations on business development, and how can businesses overcome this obstacle?

As I see it, risk is the greatest barrier for industry looking to engage with Indigenous communities. Understanding different characterizations of risk fully, carefully, from 

multiple perspectives, and engaging in knowledge sharing and planning around risk can help. Ask, “Who, ultimately, will bear the risk here? What does that risk look like?” 

• What does “meaningful engagement” mean to you and how can businesses ensure they are meeting or exceeding that standard?

Ultimately, determination of whether or not engagement is meaningful to the organization or not is a decision the rests with the Board, and is a decision that ought supported through evidence. If there is little evidence to support that any knowledge exchange, conversation, or input is had by our members, then there is very little to support an assertion that engagement is meaningful. 

Give us a call. Let’s get to work. 

• What steps has your organization taken to create partnerships between First Nations and the business community in BC?

The BCMF has founded an arms-length, non-partisan economic development entity: The Métis Economic Development Corporation ( to create and nourish partnerships and economic development for Métis people in BC. 

• In your experience, what is the most common cause of communication breakdown in a business partnership, and what advice would you give for keeping the lines of communication open?

Giving voice. People need to feel heard. Leadership ought to demonstrate that they’ve heard, understood, and are responding appropriately. 

[ilink url=”” style=”download”]Click here to download the panel questions and answers in PDF format.[/ilink]

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