As Members of Parliament and Senators were closing in on final passage of Bill C-45, members of the First Nations Infrastructure Institute’s technical team were headed east.
The technical team spent the day with First Nations community leaders at a workshop sponsored by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs. Each has unique infrastructure needs but common challenges: funding and capacity.
“FNII’s services, tools and templates are optional, but they can provide a focused way to get from where they are to where they want to be,” said Jason Calla, the team’s lead.
“Whether they are planning new housing, water and sewer, a health centre, roads or an economic development project, FNII can help them – at no charge – to develop a business case for their project and reach their goals.”
Calla describes FNII’s approach as “adding bench strength to the team.”
Darlene Paul, Director of Housing and Capital at Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, explained to her counterparts in sister Nations that working with the FNII technical team has been a huge “plus”.
“It has helped us manage the overall process of working with partners like the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority, Dillon Consulting, the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, Bird Construction and our Band Council,” she said. “It’s that overall guidance that is helping us plan future water and wastewater needs for residential and commercial development.”
Calla also shared options for alternative funding to not only build projects, but to ensure adequate resources to operate and maintain them for years to come.
“There needs to be a fair and transparent system of accountability to make sure that any ‘split’ financing ensures that whoever benefits, pays.”
Paqtnkek is one of two “proof of concept” projects underway as FNII sought legislative changes to include the institute in the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. The other project is at Kettle and Stony Point First Nation adjacent to Lake Huron in Ontario.
For more on the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs, visit https://www.apcfnc.ca/
Visit the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation website at https://www.paqtnkek.ca/
Visit the Kettle and Stony Point website at https://kettlepoint.org/