Evidence of meeting #41 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was nation.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Austin Bear  Chief, Muskoday First Nation, Saskatchewan, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board
Robert Lajoie  Vice-President, Financing and Consulting, Manitoba, and National Director, Aboriginal Banking, Business Development Bank of Canada
William McCue  Councillor, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, Ontario, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

9:40 a.m.

Chief, Muskoday First Nation, Saskatchewan, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

Chief Austin Bear

Sorry, I'm not sure I caught the last part of the question.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Perhaps we'll be able to catch this another time. I know how strict the boss is here.

9:40 a.m.

Chief, Muskoday First Nation, Saskatchewan, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

No problem.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blake Richards

I was finally trying to be a little lenient, but I appreciate your indulgence, so....

We will start the second round of questioning with Monsieur Genest-Jourdain.

You have five minutes.

May 12th, 2015 / 9:40 a.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Good morning, gentlemen.

The document drafted by the Library of Parliament to prepare us for your testimonies this morning mentioned the First Nations market housing fund, which is overseen by nine trustees. When constituents who are members of a First Nation visit my office in Uashat and tell me that the funds, which are supposed to be managed by the band council and used for housing, have been used for other purposes, I often suggest the following solution: create a trust. I would like to hear what you could tell us about the advantages or specifics of managing a housing-related trust.

9:45 a.m.

Chief, Muskoday First Nation, Saskatchewan, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

Chief Austin Bear

Are you asking me?

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

The question is for anyone who is in charge of or has information about housing-related trusts.

9:45 a.m.

Chief, Muskoday First Nation, Saskatchewan, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

Chief Austin Bear

Thank you.

I'll answer this way, first, with the first nations market housing fund, our first nation has done some exploration and investigation. We haven't proceeded with that, and we haven't entertained CMHC. We provide housing through private homes and/or social housing. We manage that through our funding available to first nations. There's some capital within our FTA or block funding, but primarily from our own-source funding.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

To come back to the First Nations market housing fund, I know that the First Nations' proven ability to manage its finances, loans and housing is assessed.

What tests would make it possible to assess how a band is managing its housing-related finances and loans? How could we determine whether a First Nation is managing its finances, loans and housing adequately?

9:45 a.m.

Chief, Muskoday First Nation, Saskatchewan, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

Chief Austin Bear

I know how my first nation manages our responsibilities and commitments on any funding, whether it's housing or otherwise, and the accountability and transparency to our members and to the funding agencies. I can't answer to what other first nations do. I have no way of knowing what they do, and I wouldn't dare suggest what other first nations may or may not do.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Thank you.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Thank you for that information.

BDC, you mentioned working with young entrepreneurs. Given especially the earlier comments we heard from Chief Bear as well as Mr. McCue on some of the barriers young people face on first nations, particularly wanting to pursue post-secondary education but not enough funding being available, and the need for more access to education and training, I'm wondering if you can speak a bit about that.

Do those barriers that you see need to be tackled with respect to the kind of work that BDC is doing to try to support entrepreneurs and young people on first nations?

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President, Financing and Consulting, Manitoba, and National Director, Aboriginal Banking, Business Development Bank of Canada

Robert Lajoie

Thank you for the question.

On the education side, we create awareness through E-Spirit, and we hope that we have a part in helping them believe they can have a future in entrepreneurship.

I have an example of a young entrepreneur. She left her community to work in a metropolitan centre. She wanted to go back and then she wanted to buy a business. There was an opportunity to buy a motel just outside her first nation, so we worked closely with the AFI of the region and the purchase price was $300,000. She had very limited equity. Her first nation gave her part of the equity. The AFI gave her another part of the equity, and we were able to fund $180,000 of the $300,000 with a first mortgage.

A young entrepreneur, first nations, wanting to return to her community, no historical entrepreneurship, some education—we saw that as a risk in terms of experience, but a risk we were willing to take because of the willingness to go to work in her community and support community growth. This is an example of supporting a young entrepreneur with very little experience, and then we'll keep on supporting her if she wants to grow that company. We can offer it through our consulting services, mentorship, coaching, and help her build. That's one example.

Maybe she'll become a role model for other youth in the community. So it's one entrepreneur at a time. It's creating awareness through E-Spirit and hoping that the students are aware that they can have a future in entrepreneurship. Then it's also supporting the youth when they approach us for projects.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blake Richards

Okay, thank you.

We now have Mr. Seeback, for the next five minutes.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Conservative Brampton West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Chief Austin Bear and Chief McCue, you were saying that you were one of the original first nations to enter into the FNLM regime back in 1996. Is that...?

9:50 a.m.

Councillor, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, Ontario, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

William McCue

We were actually the first to vote on a land code. The way the legislation was structured, you had to have two communities pass their land codes before the framework was implemented by Parliament. Ours was the first. We beat the Scugog First Nation by a couple of minutes, so that's our claim to fame.

9:50 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Conservative Brampton West, ON

There were about 14 first nations that were interested when the regime was first brought forward. Am I accurate in that number?

9:50 a.m.

Councillor, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, Ontario, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

William McCue

I think there were 12 or 14 signatories who came to our community in 1996 to sign the agreement with Canada.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Conservative Brampton West, ON

Now there are about 112 signatories and there's a waiting list of other people who would like to get into the regime. Is that correct?

9:50 a.m.

Councillor, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, Ontario, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

William McCue

Yes, that's correct.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Conservative Brampton West, ON

It seems there was not an incredible amount of interest at first, but as the success of the regime became evident to others, the interest has become far more substantial. Is that fairly accurate?

9:50 a.m.

Councillor, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, Ontario, and Director, First Nations Lands Advisory Board

William McCue

That is correct. I'll speak very quickly. I know we're limited on time.

I had become chief when I first heard of the initiative. I had gone to a meeting of the Chiefs of Ontario in Toronto where the predecessor, the First Nations Lands Management Act was being presented, or attempted to be presented. It was a controversial initiative to get away from the Indian Act. My friend here was one of the first presenters and I didn't think he was going to make it out of the meeting with his scalp intact.

9:50 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!