The Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNDC) held an open house at the Six Nations tourism building on August 1st, introducing community members to those involved in the corporation and the work they are visioning for the territory.
Guests were welcomed to tour stations set up to describe the corporation and explain who they are, what they do, where the money coming in from the corporation is set to go and how the community and individual community members can benefit from that revenue.
The Six Nations Elected Council directed Economic Development to examine developing a corporation for Six Nations in the summer of 2010. From the spring of 2011 through to the end of that year SNEC held “We Gather our Voices” Community Engagement sessions to hear what kinds of things the people of Six Nations were interested in. From 2012 to the fall of 2013 the research phase was engaged and in October 2013 SNEC instructed their legal counsel to establish the Economic Development Corporation and Trust.
From the summer of 2014 an interim board was established, given the work of approving terms of reference, bylaws, committees, compensation structures and to determine who would be eligible to sit as representatives for the group, staff and others who will qualify as members.
From January of 2015 staff were hired and a call for members of the advisory board, board of directors and board of trustees was put out. The SNDC Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors were officially installed in May of 2015.
The current SNDC Board of Directors are Amy Frank, Ruth Martin, Sabrina Saunders, Jeremy Bouchard and Claudine VanEvery-Albert.
The SNDC also shared their guiding principles and charts describing the corporate ownership and flow of funds through the community. Off-reserve entities such as the Grand Renewable Energy Park and Aecon-Six Nations will bring dollars into the community to an on reserve “Master” trust account, while on-reserve entities such as the Bingo Hall and Tourism sites will bring funds directly to the development corporation.
The Open House also shared presentations from some of the community organizations and infrastructure the SNDC hopes to develop. Six Nations Our Sustenance Farmer’s Market has partnered with the SNDC to bring issues of food sovereignty and dietary well being to the forefront of Six Nations.
Six Nations Tourism shared their vision for a new and revitalized Chiefswood Park. Plans include updating recreational fields to host lacrosse, snowsnake, track and field, and a natural playground with a water feature. The plan also includes an update to camping — with an outdoor kitchen, a modern “longhouse” dining hall along the ridge of the river, a re-designed camp sites for rough camping and “glamping” and an intensive overhaul of the pow wow grounds and pavilion. Plans are also set to restore the historic log cabin on site and establish facilities for the Pauline Johnson home including an interpretive centre with gift shops and exhibition space.
Community members were also introduced to the Six Nations Community Plan, a living document based on the research and focus groups who’ve shared how they would like to shape Six Nations of the Grand River.
A preamble for the Community Plan, shared in a vision document distributed at the event reads, “The people of Six Nations will be a united community with strong and accountable leadership, exercising its jurisdiction and nationhood. We will continually work toward being happy and healthy; physically, socially, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and culturally. We will thrive economically through ingenuity and innovation, while adhering to our cultural and environmental sensitivities. Abundant employment and educational opportunities will allow everyone to realize their personal goals, and the goals of the community. The territory will be safe and sustainable, with a flourishing environment. Our homes will be affordable, models of efficient and our shelter to strengthen families. The Six Nations territory will be an inclusive model community, a leader in overall well-being, environment, economy and happiness for the complete lifecycle.”
The 41 page document gives a detailed vision for how the people of Six Nations say they would like to develop and protect the territory, broken down into 7 categories: Mother Earth, Built Environment, Employment and Education, Economic Development, Community, Well-Being and Arts & Culture.