Mending economic relations – Val-d’Or reaches out to Native communities

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The Val-d’Or Chamber of Commerce wants to mend the relationship with Aboriginal people, and recently issued a four-year action plan intended to keep First Nations money rolling into the city hit by a business downturn following last fall’s crisis over allegations of police abuses.

The chamber’s “Action Plan 2016-2020: An economic partnership for a better living-together” aims to encourage economic growth in Aboriginal communities and in the city, according to Marcel Jolicoeur, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Val-d’Or (CCVD).

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Jolicoeur. “We want to help their business plan, to help small businesses develop on reserves. We want to better understand each other. We’ve been working with First Nations communities for a long time, and after what happened last autumn, we decided to issue a four-year plan of action to have a good relationship with Native people.”

bright Marcel H. Jolicoeur, président de la Chambre de commerce de VD

CCVD President Marcel Jolicoeur

“The action plan is a business relationship that promotes living together,” said Tanya Pash, the chief operating officer of Air Creebec. “The surrounding communities and the Cree communities are all included in this. We realized that a vacuum doesn’t work in this day in age. Misconceptions about our goal must be eliminated to help our businesses and communities.”

The CCVD says they will offer business training to Aboriginal people and bring them in to work in businesses in Val-d’Or as well as bring their knowledge to the communities in an attempt to help economic growth in the communities.

“Lots of strategies were discussed,” said Matthew Happyjack, president of Air Creebec. “Members of the board were encouraged to study Native history to better understand us.”

Pash and Happyjack are both acting as liaisons between the CCVD and the Aboriginal communities. There are many job placements and opportunities involved in this action plan, which is a great chance to gain experience in the business world.

“We want to show them how we work,” said Jolicoeur. “To teach them things that could benefit the communities. Not just big businesses, but small ones, too. We want to visit each community to explain our goals. We want to be able to help others so they can help each other. We can come together to give each other something. We want to get close and support them. This is our goal.”

Photo - Conférence de presse

“The CCVD wants to go to each community to see what their needs are,” said Pash. “To see what has to be done. Each community has different needs and solutions. And we think the Chamber of Commerce can do that. This is beneficial to the communities and our people.”

Besides bringing business professionals to communities for workshops and teachings, the CCVD aims to visit communities to find out what their needs are so that the economy can be increased on both sides, according to Jolicoeur.

“We all need to work together,” he said. “This is a very good initiative for Native entrepreneurs and businessmen. Adjustments and discussions can be a good start to a great relationship that we can build together.”

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