Maybe It’s Time To Have An Adult Conversaton…
For several years now as the Principal of Spirit Strategies I've had the opportunity to facilitate conversations around Joint Ventures with First Nations communities in addition to supporting business development opportunities for contractors in advance of major projects in British Columbia.
As a child having grown up traveling and living in remote communities throughout western North America it's been really amazing to understand that my career has in fact brought me very much back to my roots.
My grandfather was from the Cherokee Nation and wasn't really proud to be an Indian. In fact it's often something he hid and we didn't talk about. Today I realize that much of my oral history remains unknown. In the process of having been able to travel and live with First Nations communities from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to Alaska and finding a home within the Tsimshian Nation I've been really blessed to know community like family.
It's been through this experience that I've come to know the history of what's happened in Canada with First Nations People and how the balance of trust can be so difficult to earn.
It's not a secret that building British Columbia has required some patience and some perseverance. The duty to consult and accomodate communities can seem daunting and with so much pressure on getting it right it's no wonder we are in fact getting it very wrong.
With the responsibilty passed down from the Crown to projects and onto contractors it seems as though community support is becoming much like a box you tick and not a relationship you build. Good relationships as we all know require engagement, communication, respect and a degree of vulnerability and trust. And as someone told me yesteday it takes two to tango... Yes it does.
The contractor who reached out without ever knowing me was hoping to land a meeting with a community so that they could add their support to a major bid. This always prompts a values conversation... Values of employment, training, career growth... etc. How do you know a community... How do you want to know a community and what can we accomplish together that will align values into a meaningful opportunity for all who are engaged.
I want to recognize that I understand that in construction when bids go in, time is of the essence. I understand that all hands are on deck, no one goes home and it's certainly the effort of the team that gets the bid over the line. However late engagement does not justify the right to tell a community that perhaps it's time to have an adult conversation or piss off. Yes... That actually happened.
First Nation communities for many years, in fact since the beginning of time have been having adult conversations. The deep and sincere values of family, environment, culture and spirituality have set Nations apart from our corporate culture. It's never been about climbing the ladder or making sure we receive our recognition for 5 years of service... It's so much more than that.
It's about heart and soul... Giving back in a way that your name is carried forward throughout future generations and it's about a love for your kids that defines every decision you make.
As you and your team move throughout British Columbia I want to invite you to be patient and to be open to the character and strength of the communities you will encounter.
When your engagement moves past a contract and into the space of your culture you'll find common ground. It's here we'll build British Columbia together on the principals of Respect and Trust.