Conference Workshops & Plenary Sessions

Strategic Planning and Board Governance - Understanding the Role of the Economic Development Board 

Tuesday October 24 - 3:00p - 4:30p Marysville A
Ken Tourand, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology & Warren Weir, Vancouver Island University

The majority of Economic Development Officers are, or will be, working for an Economic Development Board. Understanding Board governance and how they operate combined with the importance of the Strategic Plan are key skills necessary for EDO’s to be successful. This workshop session is being presented by Ken Tourand, President/CEO of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and Warren Weir, Academic Administrator for Cowichan Campus at Vancouver Island University. With over 55 years of combined experience working in Community Economic Development, Leadership, Governance, and Aboriginal Post Secondary Education, Warren and Ken will provide insight into the importance of having an effective and fully functioning Board. Participants will learn how Boards operate, the role of the Strategic Plan and its key components (SWOT/Mission/Vision/Values/Strategic Goals), the seven skills of Board Governance, and the key ingredients for an effective Board. The session will conclude with an interactive question and answer period where participants can share their questions and challenges.

Ken Tourand is the President of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. Ken started at NVIT in 1995 as a faculty member and after holding a number of administrative positions, became President/CEO of NVIT in October 2010. Ken holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in Leadership and Training. Ken is passionate about Aboriginal Education. Ken has presented at many conferences and roundtables regarding Aboriginal Education and the unique role that NVIT plays in meeting the needs of Aboriginal students and Aboriginal communities. Ken has served on many Boards (including CANDO) and is the past Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Committee for College and Institutes Canada. Ken was instrumental in creating the National Indigenous protocol for post-secondary institutions. Ken is married to Darlene and has two wonderful children, Jacob and Stephanie.

Warren Weir is the Academic Administrator of Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan Campus, Duncan, BC. He has worked with and for a number of colleges and universities and specializes in Aboriginal organization and management, FN education, and Indigenous community economic and small business development. He is an active member of the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers, is a member of its Education Committee and also serves as the managing editor and member of the editorial board for their journal - the Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development.


Accelerating Indigenous Youth Leaders Through Mentorship and Collaboration

Tuesday October 24 - 8:30a - 9:30a Pointe Sainte-Anne AB
Allison Deer, Canadian Executive Service Organization

The session will begin with a discussion led Allison Deer. Allison will start by introducing CESO and what we do, followed by an introduction of the Cando-CESO-Blenkin & Rowe Youth Mentorship. She will provide the history of the program, along with the great strides the mentees and mentors have made in the past year. A panel discussion with one Mentee and one Mentor from the program will take place. At the end, there will be an opportunity for any questions or comments.

Allison Deer (bio coming)


Best Practices for Economic Development: "The Legal Actions, Perspectives and Strategy"

Tuesday October 24 - 3:00p - 4:30p Marysville B
Cynthia Westaway, Westaway Law Group

Cynthia Westaway will discuss best practices for economic development. Examples will include land purchases, oil and gas ventures, windfarms, and joint-ventures. Cynthia will also discuss the various agreements, frameworks, and negotiation pieces utilized in economic development including Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), Memoranda of Agreement (MOA), and Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA). We will address best practices for economic development.

Cynthia Westaway is the Director of Westaway Law Group. Westaway Law Group focuses on providing a wide range of services to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, as well as partners working with Indigenous interests in Canada. Ms. Westaway is proud to lead this national Aboriginal Law practice. Cynthia has been recognized as a leading lawyer in the area of Aboriginal Law in the Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory for the last 3 years. Her current practice is focused on representation of First Nation, Métis and Inuit clients in consultation, rights, Title and Treaty, governance and business development matters, as well as natural resource and energy law as it intersects with Aboriginal lands, interests and economic development. Prior to private practice, Cynthia was a leading member of the Aboriginal Law groups of two prominent national Canadian law firms.


Prosperity Through Collaboration: The Story of the AACCC

Tuesday October 24 - 3:00p - 4:30p Nashwaaksis B
Ruby Littlechild, Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre

In this presentation, Ruby Littlechild will share the “prosperity through collaboration” approach that the AACCC took to achieve their phenomenal success at the Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre. Ruby has been the Manager of the AACCC since its opening in 2015. The AACCC is structured to achieve the following objectives for the Indigenous Albertans, and prospective employers.

Ruby Littlechild is originally from Maskwacis, Alberta. She has two amazing daughters, who are her pride, joy and who bring her much happiness, their names are Wynonna and Phaedra. Ruby values her University of Alberta friendships; with these amazing folks, she has grown and evolved as a First Nations woman. Education has given Ruby so much freedom and opportunities. She has completed her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Native Studies and Human Ecology, she also completed a Master’s in Education degree and is currently working on her MBA ‐ Masters in Business Administration. Ruby’s primary passions are promoting higher education, healing from colonization and the importance of role modeling and mentoring for First Nations people.


Maskwacis Economic Leakage: A Case Study for Reversing Economic Leakage

Monday October 24 - 3:30p - 4:45p Marysville B
Samuel Minde, Neyaskweyak Group of Companies

This session will examine and report the findings of the Maskwacis Cree Economic Leakage study. The Maskwacis Cree are located in Central Alberta and are comprised of 4 Nations (Ermineskin, Louis Bull, Montana and Samson Cree Nations) who are located side by side by side and also jointly share reserve lands called Pigeon Lake Reserve 138A. The report can be viewed as a vision for Business Development Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Nation Owned Enterprises into the next 25 years.

Samuel Minde took the reigns as Neyaskweyak Group of Companies Inc. as President and CEO in December of 2014.  One of the main projects in 2015 was to project manage the renovation of a commercial building that would houses NGCInc., Fas Gas and NGCInc., Taco Time.  That renovation improved consolidated revenues by 20% and NGCI report a growing percentage of capturing economic leakage dollars and job creation every year.  The company is currently working on several business development initiatives such as Neyaskweyak Café, Pihtwahew Gift Shop and a Business Acquisition.  


Innovation in Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure in Remote and Rural First Nations

Tuesday October 24 - 3:00p - 4:30p Nashwaaksis A
Susan O'Donnell, First Mile Connectivity Consortium

The First Mile Connectivity Consortium (FMCC) is a national incorporated not-for-profit. In our workshop, our members - First Nations Internet service providers from across Canada and university and private sector researchers- will present a summary of our research and policy development on innovative solutions to digital infrastructure and services with and in rural and remote regions and communities across Canada. This workshop will include analysis and examples from our research project, Frist Nations Innovation, our work with Industry, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and recent decisions for funding telecommunications infrastructure by the CRTC. The workshop will inform participants of the First Mile digital developments being undertaken by First Nations across Canada.

Dr. Susan O’Donnell, the FMCC Vice-­‐Chair, has been a Researcher and Adjunct Professor in the UNB Department of Sociology since 2004. She has been researching the social, community and political aspects of digital technologies and communications since 1995. Her work with First Nation partners and rural and remote First Nation communities in Canada began in 2005. She is the lead investigator of the First Nations Innovation project and co-­‐investigator on the First Mile project. Susan has conducted research in Canada (with the University of New Brunswick and the National Research Council), Ireland (with Dublin City University, Itech Research and the Irish Information Society Commission), and for the European Commission. Prior to her research career, Susan was a senior editorial consultant in Ottawa specializing in Aboriginal issues, including work with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and Assembly of First Nations.

Achieving the Right Balance

Monday October 24 - 3:30p - 4:45p Marysville A
Deborah Taylor, First Nations Market Housing Fund and Chief Dennis Meeches, Long Plain First Nation

The First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) is working with more than one third of all First Nation governments across Canada, supporting their goals of strengthening governance and making informed decisions as they create and sustain market-based housing systems.   The Fund's capacity development support has been used for laws, codes, by-laws, policies, plans, staff training and accreditation, and citizen education on reserves across the country.  In this session you will hear from a leader of one First Nation that the Fund is serving, and how they have worked on achieving a balance of tradition and custom with economic opportunities across a number of sectors that reflect the community’s goals, including housing. Long Plain First Nation is an Ojibway community, located 15 kilometres southwest of Portage La Prairie in the central plains region of Manitoba. Long Plain is a signatory to Treaty One with 4,400 Band members; approximately half of whom live on reserve. The Nation’s land base of 10,800 acres is comprised of the main reserve, and two urban economic zones created through treaty land entitlement, situated along the city limits of Portage la Prairie and in the city of Winnipeg.

Deborah Taylor is the Executive Director of the First Nations Market Housing Fund, a position she has held since the Fund was opened in 2008.  Prior to taking on this role she has more than 25 years of work experience at CMHC where she held positions of increasing responsibility.  During her career she worked extensively with First Nations people on the design, development and management of housing programs.

Chief Dennis Meeches first became a member of the Long Plain band council from 1988 to 1994. Dennis would become the Chief of Long Plain for ten years in 1998 until 2009. For a number of years prior to becoming chief Dennis sat as a Trustee of the 16 million dollars that the band received in its Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) of 1994. As the chief of Long Plain, he was the lead negotiator for the Loss of Use claim. He successfully negotiated the Loss of Use claim from 2006 to November 2008. His negotiating skills in the Loss of Use claim on behalf of Long Plain would result in a twenty million dollar offer from the government of Canada. During his term as Chief, the Long Plain band received many awards from across the country in acknowledgement of the economic growth of the community. Dennis was instrumental in economic growth in Long Plain with the development of their corporate entities including Arrowhead Development Corporation. Dennis Meeches is not only a community leader he is also an accomplished recording artist and well known throughout the pow wow trail as a dancer, singer and traditionalist. Prior to completing his initial 10 years as chief he submitted the 1916 Land Surrenders claim. Dennis also own an American Paint Horse Ranch. As Chief since 2013 his current priorities are Kapyong and the creation of a Treaty 1 Reserve at that location; the construction of a 24-million-dollar office complex at the Madison Reserve in Winnipeg; and, to settle the 1916 Surrender claim.

Successfully Delivering Infrastructure Projects in First Nation Communities

Monday October 24 - 3:30p - 4:45p Nashwaaksis B
Johanne Mullen, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Steven Malette, PwC; and David Acco, Acosys Consulting

We believe that the Economic Development Officers that will be in attendance at the Cando conference will appreciate the value in creating awareness on our proposed topic of: “Successfully Delivering Infrastructure Projects in First Nation Communities”. In the spring of 2016, Acosys and PwC entered into a Joint Venture Agreement focusing on providing professional services to better serve the needs of Indigenous communities and increase the visibility of Aboriginal business and consulting professionals through various projects. With this focus, our aim is to create opportunities for knowledge sharing among the Indigenous communities and are pleased to deliver this presentation to benefit Cando conference attendees.

Steven Malette is PwC’s National Capital Region Forensic Services Leader and Canadian Public Sector Forensic Services Co-Leader. Steven joined the firm in 1995 and since that date has practised in the firm’s Advisory Services. Steven is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA), a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), a Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional (CIRP), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) and a Licensed Trustee in Bankruptcy (LIT). Formore than 22 years, Steven has specialized in the areas of forensic investigations/audits, fraud awareness training, fraud risk assessments, litigation/dispute services, receiverships, bankruptcies, financial reviews and monitoring.

Johanne Mullen is PwC’s National Infrastructure and Project Finance Leader. Johanne has 20 years of experience in the areas of capital project advisory, complex procurement advisory, project finance and structured finance. She has been a trusted advisor to both the public and private sectors in structuring large projects in the transportation, health and urban infrastructure sectors. Johanne is a director and past president of the Institut pour les partenariats public-privé du Québec and a Director of the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships. Johanne has advised on some of the largest infrastructure projects in Canada, from initial feasibility and business case stage through to financial close. Johanne holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from Concordia University and a Master of Business Administration in International Business from McGill University.

David Acco is a Cree-Métis descended from Cumberland House, Saskatchewan, and a member of Métis Nation - Saskatchewan. He is an accomplished senior Business Analyst and Project Manager with an MBA from the University of Ottawa, a Business Analysis Master Certificate from the Schulich School of Business, York University, and a Graduate Certificate in Ecommerce from McGill University. His academic achievements and certifications give only a narrow idea of his talents. He has pushed his boundaries in many fields, from aircraft mechanics, to aerospace, to information technology, and in 2006, to social entrepreneurship, founding Acosys Consulting Services Inc. Mr. Acco has experience leading teams and working independently on projects varying in size and scope. He has extensive experience in Information Systems and Information Technology (IS/IT) in the telecommunications and engineering industries, and with many non-profit Aboriginal organizations. These experiences have enabled Mr. Acco to develop comprehensive management strategies to approach a variety of business challenges.

Co-operative Business Development in Indigenous Communities

Monday October 24 - 3:30p - 4:45p Nashwaaksis A
Audra Krueger, Julia Angus and Kyle White, Co-operatives First

This workshop will provide Indigenous EDOs an enhanced understanding of the co-operative business model. Discussions will focus on a co-operative’s legal structure, and how co-operatives might ‘fit’ with different opportunities. Case studies will be shared with participants identifying the important roles co-operatives have played in Canada’s economic development. Participants will gain a richer understanding of the co-operative business model, examples of indigenous-owned co-operatives, and how to work with groups interested in developing a co-operative business.

Executive Director Audra Krueger and the Community Engagement Team Julia Angus and Kyle White, work with communities across western Canada to explore new opportunities and build local capacity. As an advocate for economic, business and community development in rural and Indigenous communities, Co-operatives First provides the tools and connections group entrepreneurs need to start a co-operative business and help their communities grow and thrive. This will be the team’s second year attending the CANDO national conference, and look forward to making connections with the community of economic professionals.


Questions?  Contact Svitlana Konoval at or (780) 990-0303 x 231