Aroland Nation: Writing the Future
The Aroland First Nation is documenting its vision for the community’s future
With a greater appreciation of the importance of transparency and accountability, the Aroland First Nation, located in Ontario, has created a written document outlining its strategic vision along with a detailed workplan to help achieve that vision.
Aroland’s newly elected council asked the Centre to deliver nine nation-rebuilding workshops to give them the tools they’d need to establish best practices in governance. In October 2010, the Centre facilitated the first of these workshops, on Community Visioning/Strategic Planning.
The underlying principle of this workshop is that a community must first develop a clear strategic vision, as this is the foundation upon which all activities and initiatives should be based. While the community has had a strategic plan in the past, it was not effective because it wasn’t documented.
Workshop participants conducted a historical scan – to establish their shared common history – and a mind map exercise that asked them to identify what their community might look like in ten years’ time. Together, these two tools enabled workshop participants to articulate a shared vision for the future.
It is essential to have a vision. But it is equally important to have a documented strategic plan outlining how to achieve that vision. The outcome of this workshop was a workplan created by participants to define activities and deliverables for 2010-2011. The far-reaching workplan assigns responsibilities and timelines for each task, including:
- creating a housing authority to develop a housing policy,
- establishing a health authority to develop programming to support a healthy community,
- forming an economic development board to develop policies and bylaws in support of small business and entrepreneurial activities,
- developing bylaws and policies to ensure traditional language and culture are reflected in education,
- working with elders to identify and record traditional knowledge, and
- establishing a youth council to encourage youth to develop leadership skills.
A subsequent workshop on territorial rights informed participants about the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate aboriginal and treaty rights. Participants learned about the importance of thorough documentation, and the Nation has begun the process of recording and documenting the oral history of their traditional territory.
The two workshops have had important tangible outcomes for Aroland. There is an increased understanding of the importance of transparency and accountability, which is evident in the community’s creation of a detailed written vision and workplan, and in its proposals to document the boundaries of their traditional territory.