A popular forum on the realities of Aboriginals doing business is coming to Williams Lake on Thursday, Nov. 17.
Open to First Nations leaders, industry, government, contractors and individuals, the Nation2Nation community forum will help address priorities for working in partnership on resource development in First Nations territories, organizer Lisa Mueller said.
Mueller is the CEO and creator of All Nations Consulting and was inspired to host community forums after participating in one in the Lower Mainland where she noticed of the 400 people in attendance, she was one of a handful of First Nations people there.
“Last year we held one in Terrace and it sold out,” she said. “About 150 people maxed the room and we had people from all over the country and even a speaker from one of the mines was from the U.S. It made me realize that the conversation needed to take place. I’ve created a space for First Nations leaders to share how industry and government can better do business within their territory.”
Mueller thinks the forum will benefit Williams Lake and the area.
“The forum is not just about the Tsilhqot’in title decision, it is about non-First Nation and First Nation people working together,” she said. “It’s not for any certain First Nation or industry it is a safe place for all of them to come in the room and have a respectful conversation on how to better do economic development and business in First Nations communities.”
Speakers will include BC AFN Chief Shane Gottfriedson, Chief Derek Orr of the McLeod Lake Indian Band, Bryan Cox, vice president of Mining Association of B.C., Greg D’Avignon of the BC Business Council and Stewart Muir from Resource Works.
“I always have four people on a panel and a moderator, and I mix up the conversations,” Mueller said.
Mueller said she finds there are a lot of questions in the audience at the forum but realizes it can be intimidating for non-First Nations to ask questions of First Nations because they don’t want to ask the wrong questions or offend the leaders.
“Some questions never get asked so at our last forum I create an opportunity for the audience to anonymously text in a question and who they wanted to ask and then my team grabs those questions and brings them to the moderator. It has really broken down that barrier.”
The forum will take place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Pioneer Complex at 353 Hodgson Road, followed by a networking social from 5 to 7 p.m.
Anyone with questions can contact Mueller at 250-631-3396.