In her book, Indigenomics, Carol Anne Hilton lays out the tenets of the emerging Indigenous economy. What does that mean for the current powers in place and the Canadian economy? Today, we take an excerpt from Indigenomics where Carol Anne Hilton addresses what the collective response to this emerging economy means for Canada.
Excerpt from the Book
In this unfolding power shift, the core objective is to converge upon a collective response to the growth of the Indigenous economy. New actions are essential, and the dependency on Indigenous economic health and Canada’s economic health are now intertwined.
Lastly, bringing into focus the media narrative, a Globe and Mail article, “Canadian First Nations Becoming Less Prosperous,” quotes the well-known Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Nation: “I am telling First Nations we have to make the economy the No. 1 issue, just like non-native people do. Non-native people don’t stand for double-digit unemployment. Neither should we. The original treaty relationship in this country was a business relationship. That’s what we need to get back to.”
Part of the collective response needs to be the ability to accurately frame Indigenous economic growth. "The federal government considers economic development for Aboriginal communities to be discretionary. But I don’t know which town, city, or province would call their economy 'discretionary.' White people don’t call their economy discretionary.... We want economic development funding to be non- discretionary. That means it’s a focus, it must be a priority."
There is now an increasing recognition of the role of Indigenous Peoples in development projects that is being better portrayed. Ken Coates notes in an Inside Policy article, "Indigenous Support for Development Is Being Heard":
Government action is essential now. A coordinated effort by federal and provincial governments and Indigenous peoples is required. The starting point is simple—Indigenous peoples, by right of law and political necessity, must have a central, early stage role. The new systems must find the delicate balance between protecting the right of governments to govern while recognizing the unique status of Indigenous communities. Any attempt to marginalize Indigenous peoples or to put them in a subordinate role in decision-making processes will almost inevitably result in greater conflict and delays. There are solutions available. The new decision-making structures and processes must be co-created with Indigenous peoples, not decided behind closed doors by government.
Coates refers to this as the new normal, the new political and business environment of today. Indigenomics points to the pathway for building economic solutions. What is emerging is a pathway for Indigenous economic inclusion that is igniting growth. This is the choice in front of this country—it is time to select an approach to Indigenous economic growth that reflects the 21st century’s legal and political reality of Indigenous inclusion. In only a few short years, Indigenous Peoples have achieved taking a seat at the 21st century economic table. Without a collective economic response, this further establishes the conditions for an Indigenous market failure. A pathway for collective response is the underlying intention of Indigenomics.
The leadership of Danesh points us to the vital conversations: "What these points illustrate is that we are having the wrong conversation. We should not be debating whether consent is relevant or necessary. Rather, we should be focusing on how we implement consent collaboratively and constructively. Implementing consent will require a host of mechanisms—agreements, policies, laws, protocols, and new structures and processes."
This struggle to keep up with the growth of the Indigenous economy says more about our society’s need to come to terms with Canada’s colonial past, lingering racism, and need to achieve recognition and reconciliation than the idea that consent is something unfamiliar to be feared.
About the Author
Author Carol Anne Hilton
Carol Anne Hilton is founder of the Indigenomics Institute and an advisor to business, governments, and First Nations. She is a Hesquiaht woman of Nuu chah nulth descent from the west coast of Vancouver Island. She holds an MBA and comes from 10,000 years of the potlatch tradition. She lives in Victoria, BC..