By creatively exploring new employment and business opportunities that utilize First Nations’ cultural knowledge and skills, the Cultural Employment Strategy project aimed to explore ways to:

  • increase employment of First Nations people,
  • increase the number of locally-owned First Nation businesses’
  • Improve cross-cultural awareness and understanding
  • Strengthen the local economy; and
  • Create a brighter employment future for First Nations youth.


The project set out to accomplish the following four objectives:

  1. Document existing cultural knowledge and skills of Treaty 8 First Nations
  2. Identify new employment and business opportunities that utilize existing knowledge and skills
  3. Provide resources an support to advance employment opportunities and overcome employment barriers
  4. Identify community and corporate partners who can help to support cultural employment over the long tern

Knowledge Keepers further outlined the key objectives and the scope and approach for accomplishing these objectives:

  • Tapping into culture to create economic development
  • Create an inventory of cultural knowledge, skills, and aspirations
  • Create partnerships to support cultural employment
  • Build capacity for cultural employment
  • Promote social enterprise approach (i.e. earn revenue to invest in cultural regeneration)


The scope of Cultural Employment Strategy:

Knowledge keepers suggested that CES must focus on sharing and promoting cultural knowledge employment opportunities between Nations:

  • Develop rules and guidelines for industry to engage, in Treaty 8 Territory, based on cultural protocols and education of culture and traditions
  • Develop a cultural employment strategy that is implemented (with a work plan and timeframe)
  • Set out opportunities and approaches for knowledge keepers to come together
  • Determine the best practices approach; has to accommodate the unique skills and abilities per community
  • Work with familial relations as a good basis for collaboration
  • Build on existing business success stories – identify what works and how to replicate, for example: Chalo School, Twin Sister Native Plant Nursery, PRFN New School with Dane Zaa language curriculum, Doig Days, Tse “K” wa Heritage Centre, Doig Tribal Park, Moberly Lake Gold Course, Protected zone – Williston Trackway, Ken Cameron contracting, Paul Paquette, Dickie family business, Crowfeather and other First Nation gas bars, and the Fort Nelson Quilt Shop, and the Northeast Aboriginal Business Centre
  • Generate cultural employment and business ideas, such as: a trading post (mobile and online), cultural curriculum and camps, land use/heritage management, the old trade network – a regional eco-tourism opportunity.


The approach needed for the project:

In order for the CES project to be successful, the Knowledge Keepers stressed that the CES project should consider ways to:

  1. Decolonize the system
  2. Utilize the skills and knowledge of the Doig River Drummers, Chalo School (eg, education and training), and local Indigenous language translators
  3. Build skills and knowledge in specific areas and interests
  4. Develop an artisan co-op linked to available businesses; such as Crowfeather
  5. Connect a nested set of structures (don’t try to centralize operations, as the territory is too spread out)
  6. Identify places where people can work cooperatively (GAP Analysis-NRT)
  7. Use a flexible model for the project
  8. Identify a way of enhancing the quality of life, especially for the Elders’ incomes
  9. Generate ideas and time lines for training/workshops related to cultural employment
  10. Train people to be business people
  11. Being first (people) host to showcase the Northeast Region (education/history)
  12. Focus on businesses related to renewal energy/environmental, reclamation
  13. Train the trainer for cultural camps, to be guides, storytellers, and educators
  14. Training the Elders in ceremonial, leadership -> youth, elders, chief, cultural protocols -(sharing access, dealing with conflict, etc)


To meet these objectives, specific tasks were assigned to the CES project team:

  • Document successes and failures
  • Bring back Elders to train
  • Develop a toolkit
  • Create an Indigenous Arts and Crafts Trading Post
  • Set out strategy in the final report ot ensure that the project continues even after funding is completed
  • Plan for workshops/training related to facilitation and culture camps