Evidence of meeting #26 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was online.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Robert Louie  Chairman, First Nations Lands Advisory Board
  • Austin Bear  Chair, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre
  • Graham Powell  Executive Director, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre
  • Elizabeth Childs  Advisor, Capacity Building, Training and Professional Development, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre
  • Patti Wight  Advisor, Capacity Building, Training and Professional Development, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre
  • Ruth Nahanee  Senior Advisor, Capacity Building, Training and Professional Development, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre
  • Daniel Millette  Manager, Strategic Planning, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you so much.

We will start with the questioning, and we're going to turn it over to Ms. Duncan to begin, for seven minutes.

Colleagues, again, we'll try to keep our questions and answers to the allotted times, and if that happens we can get through a number of questioners and be able to return to people who may have follow-up questions.

Ms. Duncan.

March 1st, 2012 / 4 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Thanks for the very detailed presentation.

It would have been helpful to have seen the materials before. Is it possible for us to actually go online and see all the materials?

4:05 p.m.

Advisor, Capacity Building, Training and Professional Development, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Dr. Elizabeth Childs

We can do that right now, absolutely.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

No, it's okay. I don't want to get into that. It would be interesting to actually go through the program if you can figure out a way that we could go in.

I have a couple of detailed questions. First, I was interested off the bat when the suggestion was made that this is the only program in Canada. I'm a little puzzled because I know there is a program— although it's not exactly on the land code—at the University of Saskatchewan. As I understand it, it's on land management for first nations. There is the BEAHR program, and I understand the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources also does materials and teaches, so I'm wondering if you link up with any of those other programs.

4:05 p.m.

Executive Director, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Dr. Graham Powell

We could answer the University of Saskatchewan to begin with, if you would let us.

Both Patti and Ruth have actually taken the course. They could add their comments on that.

4:05 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Capacity Building, Training and Professional Development, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Ruth Nahanee

Thank you.

I was actually part of the pilot program at the University of Saskatchewan. At that stage, we were in the developmental phase under the land code.

The University of Saskatchewan's material was based specifically on Saskatchewan. I love Saskatchewan, and I actually fell in love with Saskatoon because I was there for a two-year period. But coming from British Columbia, we have different laws that we have to follow and we have different soils. We have forestry. We're urban. So everything was geared towards going out into the field and testing the soils in that area and the forestry in that area. In that way it wasn't relevant to us as the Squamish Nation. However, our capacity-building and certification program is set up so that we're more national in representation, and we're able to respond to each first nation and its requests at a more national level through our online chat.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Okay, thanks. I don't need any more than that. I was just curious as to whether you knew about the other programs, and it sounds as though you're quite familiar with them.

I used to be on the board of ECO Canada, which initiated the BEAHR program. One of the things they were asked to do by the federal government was to develop the new norms for training and certification for safe drinking water, because of the problems that arose in a number of communities.

They immediately ran into the issue of basic literacy. Working with community colleges, they set out specialized training programs for some first nations communities.

I wonder if, in the program you deal with, you are allowing only entrants who are already very highly educated, or have you adjusted for people who may not have strong English language skills, who may speak their own first nation's language, or who might have some literacy problems? Is there adjustment in your program for that?

4:05 p.m.

Advisor, Capacity Building, Training and Professional Development, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Dr. Elizabeth Childs

Absolutely, there is.

For example, the lands governance director program is targeted at lands governance directors, so it's written at approximately a grade 10 level. With our partnered post-secondary institutions, there are all of the writing support and all of the post-secondary support systems in place for us to tap into.

For the courselets that the chief and council will use, the community will use, and the lands staff and lands committee. We're writing at about a grade 7 to grade 8 level, recognizing that we do need to address the literacy piece.

What we have found to be more of a hurdle is actually not the literacy itself, but the digital literacy. In order to address the digital literacy component, we have basically a “learning online 101” course that has been developed. It's written for all of our audiences so that they can understand what it's like to work in an online environment, in a self-paced environment online, or in an online community.

That's definitely where our focus has been, but the literacy issue is something we do address through all the different audiences.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Great. You answered my third question, so you're very efficient.

Can a first nations member who is not certified in this program become a lands manager, or do you have to be certified through this program?

4:05 p.m.

Advisor, Capacity Building, Training and Professional Development, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Patti Wight

No, one could just be hired as a lands manager and not have any background in that area. The learning curve is very steep. That was my situation. I was hired, and I had to learn about this field, this legislation, and the land code. It can be quite a steep learning curve.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

You have quite a waiting list, as I understand. Do you have any kind of an interim measure, or is it possible for people who are getting involved in this program to maybe access the materials if they haven't done the course yet? Is there some way to deal with the backlog of interest?

4:05 p.m.

Advisor, Capacity Building, Training and Professional Development, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Dr. Elizabeth Childs

Absolutely. That's something we have definitely been wrestling with, because since the certification has been slow to develop for a variety of reasons, people in the field need something.

At the virtual resource centre, the meeting place, those materials have been up since 2010. We continually add to them, so initially, as new first nations join, or even as current first nations are there and want a reminder of how to do a template for a land code and want to look at Seabird Island, they can go online and find it, whereas prior to 2010 they had to hunt and peck to source it.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

If a first nations member is a member of a nation that has not opted to do the land code, can they still take your program?

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Dr. Graham Powell

It's mainly designed for the framework agreement first nations. We haven't been approached by a first nation that wasn't a signatory asking if they could take parts of it.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

For example, you seem to teach really important things—environmental impact assessment, environmental governance, land use. It seems like that kind of information would be important to anybody, no matter who they are. That's an interesting issue that you might want to be pursuing.

As an environmental lawyer, I'm kind of curious to know.... You say you're just developing this program. What actually is in your environmental governance program? Do you actually talk about inspection and enforcement?