Structuring Is Essential to Enhancing Growth
Several economic development projects are on the way in the Atikamekw community of Wemotaci. This has been made possible, thanks to the renewed emphasis placed on this activity sector over the past few years, and to a major restructuring.
The first step in the restructuring program initiated a few years ago was to create a community economic development organization (CEDO), the Corporation Nikanik, the Director General of which is Mr. Adam Jourdain. And then, to have a long-term vision and in order to be able to achieve new projects, the Corporation adopted a strategic planning in economic development focused on five lines of action: community-based entrepreneurship, private entrepreneurship, tourism, forestry and sustainable development. Based on this strategic planning, the Corporation Nikanik makes it its mission to identify every opportunity in this regard and to implement structures and components that will enable them to seize it.
Developing Private Entrepreneurship
At present, the Conseil des Atikamekw de Wemotaci owns seven limited partnerships, which the following are part of: Épicerie Bonichoix, Services forestiers Aski and Club Odanak. Therefore, entrepreneurship is primarily community-based, but everything is in place to see the number of private enterprises increase over the years ahead. In fact, one of the projects of Corporation Nikanik that will help boost private entrepreneurship in Wemotaci is the construction of a Business Centre. This project, which is of interest to many financial partners, will get underway soon. This project arose from a need of the Corporation who had to contend with a lack of business premises in the community. In addition to responding to this lack of space, the new centre will also be there for the needs of entrepreneurs who don’t always have the means to hire a secretary, an accountant, etc. At the Business Centre, they will have access to various services whose costs will be shared amongst them and other users. This is the first phase of a much larger project which includes the construction of an industrial motel (business incubator) in the years to come. The Corporation Nikanik is also hoping to provide one or two trainings a year to its entrepreneurs to help them in their development.
Self-Empowerment Needed for Long-term Planning
In order to give itself the means to plan on a long term, Wemotaci acceded to the First Nations Fiscal and Statistical (FNFSMA), which grants powers that are greater than the Indian Act, in particular in the field of infrastructure and economic development financing. The community will therefore be able to use the FNFSMA as economic lever to make loans at attractive interest rates. In a near future, it will also take steps to subscribe to the 10 years Grant offered by Indigenous Services Canada, and for which the subscription to the FNFSMA is a prerequisite. All these elements brought together will enable the community to ensure financial stability and plan long-term projects.
To conclude, all the hard work done so far is starting to pay off, since the community actually has 140 M$ worth of current and upcoming projects. A brief overview of the main projects will be provided in the next articles of this edition.
Further information on the community and the “Conseil des Atikamekw de Wemotaci” can be found at wemotaci.com.