Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Position Paper #2 - The Government Needs to Create Opportunities

New Opportunities for a New Era 

    With the Huu-ay-aht First Nations having successfully negotiated the Maa-nulth Final Agreement and in the midst of successfully implementing that treaty, one of the most important factors that will determine our overall success as a Nation will be how we manage our economic policies. Gone are the days where it was expected that we merely get our people from pay-cheque to pay-cheque. Our People need to make a living. They need careers that they can plan their lives around. In this past term of office, I have worked with my colleagues in government, the administration and our advisors to forge a new way to take advantage of the new opportunities afforded to us through the treaty.

    For a government, the trick of successfully managing economic policy is to balance helping our people to be successful with staying out of their way when they have things figured out for themselves. Everyone knows the parable of teaching the hungry man to fish, but as I've said before, saying it and doing it are very different things. Our government has to do two things: (1) it has to ensure that there are economic opportunities for our People and our Nation as a whole and (2) it has to ensure that there are proven methods for our People and our Nation to benefit from those economic opportunities.

It's All About Creating Opportunity

    The key to independence is being able to do things for oneself. This is a truth that all youth find out for themselves and it's something that applies to groups like the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, too. When you're able to make decisions for yourself and act upon them, then you're truly free to do what you want with your life. Having been granted self-government and enough authority over our resources to do something about it, it is the job of government to ensure that our People and our Nation have the opportunity to make real improvement in our standards of living.

    Some time ago, the Huu-ay-aht government embarked upon a program of creating businesses for income and jobs. With businesses such as the forestry company, we accessed the value in our traditional lands without  yet having control over them. Now, we have control over a substantial portion of our traditional territory; enough that we can now unlock the value in our lands and resources in such a way to help make the lives of our people better. This is the key to our economic salvation, this is the way by which we make our lives better, we must ensure that we have the full benefit of our lands and resources like it's enjoyed in the rest of this country.

    For the government, it's a balancing act. We have to seek harmony between creating job and career opportunities for our people with protecting our resources from total depletion. In addition to that, we have manage our businesses in such a way that we can access profit. So, our government needs to make decisions that give everyone the potential to access the value in our land and from our resources.

    This cannot be, and has not been, restricted solely to our own businesses through the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation, it has to be accessible by individuals willing to take the risk on their own ventures. We need to ensure that business interests from around Canada and the world at large can come in and strike up partnerships with the Nation, its companies and interests of individual Huu-ay-aht. We can no longer afford to hold the world at the borders of our territory, in order to succeed economically, the government needs to be open to opportunities put forward by anyone.

It's About Ensuring Equal Opportunity through Equal Access to Education
    I have long held the belief that the vast majority of our people only need two things to succeed: (1) the chance to succeed and (2) the tools to do it. As a government, we can give them the chance to succeed by creating laws and making decisions that allow for people to work for themselves. As a government, we can give them the tools to succeed. Those tools should be familiar: comprehensive education for our children and youth, training opportunities for everyone and accurate and timely information for our people to make their own decisions in the market so they can work.

    There are two types of work: jobs and careers. Jobs are often temporary and get you a life of pay-cheque to pay-cheque. It's not all bad, though, since this is where we all start out in our youth. It's a learning process, we need jobs to learn what it takes to have longer term employment. Careers are less temporary and they are something that people can plan their lives around. Creating careers should be the goal of our Nation and all of our People. Jobs make rent, careers make lives. But earning a career requires planning and perseverence in the face of inevitable setbacks.

    If we imagine our working lives as some sort of race, then jobs are sprints and careers are cross-country marathons. We still need to help prepare our people for bi-weekly sprints, but we need to focus on equipping our people with the discipline and fortitude to run that marathon. As with most things, it all starts with knowledge. Success in primary school and secondary school should be the first priority of a government that concerns itself with the success of our future generations.  We need our youth to graduate and then we need them to seek out the skills needed to move toward a career by seeking out more education or trades training.

    By focusing on education and training, everyone will have the same chance at making their lives better. Individual lifepaths will be very different, but if we can prepare our people for the trials and challenges of the long road ahead then our community can only benefit from that.

Business-Friendly Policies Create Jobs, Careers and Improve Lives

    In this era of independence, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations created the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation (HDC), an arm's length company that oversees the business operations owned by the Nation. It was set up to ensure that the decisions it makes are strictly business-oriented. It was created to eliminate harmful practices like nepotism (favouring family and friends over other citizens) and keep purely political decisions from affecting the profitability of our businesses.

    When our businesses are successful, they provide income to our Nation that can be used to fund health, education and other programs vital to preparing our People for success. Providing income is their first function, the job and career opportunities come as a part of any business activity on our lands. We need to attract businesses to our land in order to create jobs and career opportunities for our People.

    We need to invest in our people so they have the same chances that everyone else has in this country. If we do our job right, we won't have to have job quotas for our People. They'll be qualified for jobs and able to earn career positions on their own merit. Of course, this will take time and we can enact policies to help give our people a leg up, and there should also be programs to help people who have fallen on hard times, but those programs must be oriented in such a way to get people back on their feet and able to help themselves.

    Only when I'm able to do things for myself am I truly free. I may stumble, I may fall, and I may need help getting up from time to time. But in the end, I have to be the one to learn from my mistakes and keep going.

    This is what was taught to me by my parents and my grandparents. The challenges we face now are ultimately no different than the challenges our ancestors faced decades, generations, centuries ago. Our people worked. They worked hard. We have inherited the fruits of their hard work. Now, we owe it to future generations to take what our ancestors left us and make our lives better.


Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council. 

Klecko, klecko.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Position Paper #1 - The Government Needs to Build Trust

A New Government for a New Day

    The Huu-ay-aht First Nations will be governed by a group of seven people. The Chief-Councillor is elected separately and acts as the head of government. He or she assigns portfolios, respresents the HFN to the rest of the world and sets the agenda for the coming year. The Members of Council are assigned portfolios based on various areas of responsibility: finance, economic development, citizenship, treaty implementation, health, education, forestry, fisheries, lands and so on. Then, all Members of Council work with each other, the administration and the people to make policy and other political decisions about how the Huu-ay-aht First Nations runs.

An Issue of Trust

    Before the Effective Date of the Treaty, the government had to abide by rules set out in the Indian Act. This is no longer the case. The HFN has established its own law and policy based on a long period of development that involved the people at all stages. It should go without saying that our government will be more effective at making better decisions for the people it serves, but I must say that this may not yet be the case.

    I think our people have experienced disappointment at the political level for a long time due to various reasons. While I believe that the future will be much brighter, I think it's important that our government shows the people that it can be trusted with the new authorities that it has been granted through the treaty. So what can we do?

We Need to Show Our Work

    The government has to work hard, and I have some ideas. I think our government needs to be more accessible to the people. We can do that in three ways: (1) regular office hours for Members of Council to meet with citizens, (2) compulsory question periods for Members of Council at the People's Assembly and (3) rotating regional portfolios.

1.    All members of our government should be available for face-to-face meetings with the people they serve. To do this, I think we need to go beyond newspaper articles, website entries and community meetings. I think our government needs to make themselves availabe at regular times every week in both Anacla and Port Alberni (to start). During this time,  Members of Council will make themselves available at either of our offices to answer questions and receive input for any citizen who takes the time out of their day to meet with his or her representative.

2.    In addition, I think it should be mandatory for everyone in government to not only speak, but to take direct questions from citizens at every People's Assembly held. Having compulsory "question periods" will do a lot to ensure that all Members of Council know their portfolios and can show that they've added value the community.

3.    For too long, Huu-ay-aht from every community have felt as though they have not been represented by their government. Our election law allows for everyone to cast their vote, but I don't think that necessarily means that everyone gets to have their input. If we assign a Member of Council to represent our people in Anacla/TSL, Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and Beyond, then we can better ensure that every voice from every place can be heard. These assignments would be rotated every year so that each Member of Council has experience with as many communities as possible.

We Need to Work Harder Than Ever

    Linked to these ideas is another. In the past, portfolios were held by one person for the entire term of office. This allowed for consistency, but I think there's a better way. I think major portfolios should be assigned to two people: a senior Chairperson who holds the position as long as the Chief-Councillor wishes and a junior Vice-Chairperson who would serve for one year before being assigned to another portfolio.

    Assigning two Members of Council to each major portfolio would ensure that everyone in government has a deeper understanding of all facets of the government. This way, each Member of Council would be a teacher and a student. This way, we retain the consistency of a long-term assignment and allow for new ideas at the same time. In addition, this ensures a measure of supervision of each Councillor by his or her peers. Finally, it allows for work to continue when the senior Councillor is unavailable due to sickness, emergency or a scheduling overlap.

Building Trust and Building a Nation

    When the government works hard and can show it, I think our people will come to trust it. If we can earn their trust, then we're that much closer to creating a community based in hope and opportunity for all. But it starts with trust, and I think this a good way to earn it.


Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council

Klecko, klecko.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council

Re-Elect John Alan Jack to

Huu-ay-aht First Nations Council

An Introduction

            Hello, my name is John Alan Jack and I'm running to be re-elected to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Council. My parents are David McIvor and the late Sandy Gallagher (Jack). My grandparents on my mother's side are Ernest Jack and the late Shirley Jack (Chester). I have two younger brothers, Richard and Jackson, and almost all of my family lives on the Island.

            I grew up in the Parksville-Qualicum area. My grandfather and his family relocated there in 1969, and it is there that my mother met my father. I was lucky to have a loving and dedicated family where I had the good fortune to go on and do them proud by attending and graduating from university. In 2004, I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Distinction in the field of Global Studies, which is a combination of politics and economics from an international point of view. I started to work with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations in the development of the Huu-ay-aht Constitution, the law that protects our rights and establishes our responsibilities as Huu-ay-aht citizens.

            From there, I became more involved with the Huu-ay-aht. In fact, I followed in my mother's foot-steps by working for the Nation in pursuit of treaty. Before I was first elected to Council, I held staff positions such as Enrolment Coordinator, Assistant to Chief & Council and Communications Coordinator as well as being an active member of the Governance Committee.

My Experience and Accomplishments

            Since being elected to serve on Council in June 2009, I have been assigned the portfolios of Finance, Economic Development and Communications. In addition to these important duties, I was still involved in treaty-related activities through the Governance Committee and continued attendance at treaty meetings between the HFN, the provincial and federal governments and other Maa-nulth nations where we worked together to get to the Effective Date.

            As Chair of Finance, I oversaw the successful test-run of the strict new law created to ensure that we manage Huu-ay-aht public money in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner. Through the Huu-ay-aht Financial Administration Act, the government was able to create and publish a comprehensive three year strategic plan that set out our budgetary priorities and follow through in a detailed and accountable budget. This has allowed us to hit the ground running when it came to managing our finances after the Effective Date of the Maa-nulth Treaty.

            As Chair of Economic Development, I worked with my colleagues to do things that are fundamental to success in business. In addition to work on development projects, we consulted with the people and created a robust strategic plan that would guide us in future projects. Then, we created the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation: a company owned by the HFN but run as a business. By removing ever-changing politics from business decisions, we enable our companies to be more successful through better management decisions and greater profits. When our businesses are run well and run successfully, we will have more revenue to the HFN and our people will have a greater chance at having careers that can last a lifetime rather than jobs that can often be temporary.

My Approach and Priorities

            Now that we are self-governing, now that we have control over natural resources and now that we have the money to make a real difference in the lives of the people we serve, it is my belief that our government should make the best decisions for the good of all Huu-ay-aht no matter who they are or where they live. First and foremost, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a community of people. If we are to succeed as a community, we must do what we can to give our people a real shot at making their lives better. This requires honest, open, and informed decision-making. We need to be able to make hard choices for the good of the community and we need to carry out our decisions to the best of our abilities.

            Following this line of thought, it is my strong belief that our people are our greatest asset, especially our youth. While we do have successful business operations and other sources of revenue, these all fall short when compared to the potential we have within ourselves. Just as we need to unlock the value in our land and resources, we need to unlock the value within each of us.

            To do this, we must have a comprehensive approach to education that ensures that our children and youth have the same opportunities for success that any other person has in Canada. As a Member of Council, I would push for increased education spending that would not only fund university degrees but accredited trades as well. In addition, I would seek new opportunities to improve basic education for students on our lands that involve parents and grandparents in the process with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of students going on to pursue post-secondary education and training.

Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council

            Having been on staff and in government, I have become familiar with all facets of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. In my time with the Nation, I have developed a passion for this community and its people. And it is in the Nation that I find the center of my life, my driving force. I seek the honour of representing you, the people of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, and it is to you that I promise that I will work to ensure that this treaty improves the lives of all Huu-ay-aht.


Klecko, klecko.