The Grand Chief of the organization representing northern Manitoba First Nations unveiled a 10-point economic action plan for the region that includes green energy, social enterprise and employment for community members.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson said the plan is based on traditional values and solutions, as well as new ideas that make sense for the north.
The plan calls for improving job opportunities and training in the north, as well as measures to improve health, including more affordable healthy food and increasing the number of indigenous doctors and nurses.
She said there are a lot of people who work in home construction in the community, but for the most part, the hydroelectric dams are going to Manitobans living in the south.
Manitoba Hydro said it has a plan to hire more people from the north, but North Wilson said it isn’t working.
“I know a lot of people who apply and don’t get the jobs,” she said.
Part of the problem, she said, has to do with the skill sets applicants have. She said even not having a drivers’ licence can mean an automatic no hire.
North Wilson also wants the federal and provincial government to deliver driver's training on First Nations, as well as set up a heating utility to replace diesel fuel and allow community-sized First Nation-owned solar and wind projects.
MKO released the plan as the Federal Liberals are beginning their policy convention in Winnipeg and prior to the release of the Progressive Conservatives’ provincial budget for Manitoba.
North Wilson hopes leaders at the federal and provincial levels have the will and desire to make change.
She wants to see real effort made in next three to four years, while she, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister are in their first terms.
Originally published by CTV Winnipeg on May 26, 2016