First Nations Assignment


Business Development Project

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OBJECTIVE: Students learn to build business relationships with First Nations specifically, and cross-culturally more broadly.

DELIVERABLE: Project/Business Development Document

Identify and develop an opportunity for the company you chose for your portfolio to engage with First Nations in BC, primarily for the purposes of good business development. We want you to understand that these collaborations make good business sense and are usually done to make money. A good partnership is an act of Reconciliation (see below), and sometimes is the primary impetus for initiating a project. Avoid pro bono work and creating non-profit societies since we are focused on opportunities rather than charity.


Start by finding 1-3 models of a similar successfully completed project; it will be very difficult to understand the full scope of the project without doing this. Your paper should be 1500-2000 words, excluding word count for diagrams and appendixes. Supplement your document visually as you see fit in order to most effectively and efficiently communicate to your audience; this might include charts or graphs, maps or prototype images. Write in the first person plural, “we” or “the Company”. Where necessary, use in text citations in APA style. Your document is likely to take the form of a proposal to your management, explaining what you should do, why the company should do it, and how it would be done.


Also consider the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action #92, this is a recommendation, not legislation.

We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples[1] as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.


Possible projects:

Getting more bands/Nations as corporate clients
Creating a joint venture for a project on First Nations land or using First Nations controlled resources
Relationship building by offering a status discount, preferred procurement, preferred hiring, etc.
Incorporating Indigenous stories, art work and/or naming in to your product design, e.g. yoga pants or video game (Note: this must be done with permissions which you must explain in detail.)
Official sponsor for an Indigenous event, e.g. the Indigenous Games or a film festival


Possible report sections (you might use some or all of these sections, or combine them or create new ones):

Introduction: Identify your company, the project, which Indigenous group(s) or population, and the opportunity. Identify your company business model, do not propose creating a business function that does not already exist within the company. E.g. if your company is a clothing retailer, don’t recommend selling jewelry or providing education services.
The Project: In detail, what are you proposing? With whom? Who is the target market? Why this Nation or group and not another one? How big will the project be? Etc.
Opportunity: Why are we doing this? This part is really important and is an opportunity for you to demonstrate a good understanding of Indigenous business issues and the value of engaging in this space.
Strategy: Is there an Indigenous Business Strategy in your company or are you proposing one? If so, provide a summary; if not, draft a summary of what it could be.
Inspiration/Model(s) for Success: Identify where something similar has been done before and explain how you will adapt these ideas to suit your needs. The model might not have any Indigenous content but can be adapted to include it. What previous projects are you basing this on? Use precedents to demonstrate how this will work. This could be a project your company has done, or something that involves Indigenous people, or it might not. Look broadly for inspiration.
Verification: How do you ensure you are respectful, collaborative and inclusive? Demonstrate that you are working with the right people with the right permissions.
Risks: Identify the risks in engaging/not engaging with this strategy. You will likely consider reputational, operational and financial risks and rank them high, medium or low.
Relationship & Protocol: Outline how you will build a successful relationship and business partnership. This might include community outreach, community impact benefits, social license, employment and training opportunities, etc.
How do we do it: Outline the steps necessary for bringing the project to fruition. Include relationship building, but not at the exclusion of other parts of the process. Use a process diagram to help you show your management what you expect.
Process Diagram: Draw out the steps it would take for successfully delivering this project. Start with ideation and move through completion and follow up. Use graphics to show relationships. Be sure to check the slides on how to do a process diagram.


Students learn to communicate about these complex issues in a way that is as fair and objective as possible. Students learn to articulate and address the fear of sounding racist, colonial, patriarchal or pitying.
Students gain some background knowledge to develop a rudimentary understanding of First Nations issues in BC and Canada. Students gain a rudimentary understanding of Canada’s roles and responsibilities (past, present and future) with respect to the First Peoples of Canada, as well as the business opportunities available to those able to build sound relationships. Students see a First Nation as a potential client group.


Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, Especially #92, page 14. (the pdf is available here
(Links to an external site.)
.) Retrieved August 30, 2019.
7 Ways to Incorporate Reconciliation into Your Business
(Links to an external site.)
by Animikii (an Indigenous technology business). Retrieved August 30, 2019.
Working Effectively with Aboriginal People
(Links to an external site.)
,Bob & Cindy Joseph, Indigenous Corporate Training, 2019. This is an easy read and provides a very practical view on communications in general and working with Indigenous people in particular.
Estimating the Size of the Aboriginal Market in Canada
(Links to an external site.)
, Indigenous Works (a national social enterprise). Retrieved August 30, 2019.
Engaging with Aboriginal Communities Offers Potential of Big Financial Rewards
(Links to an external site.)
, TD Bank on the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association website. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
Why an Indigenous Advisory Committee is Good for Your Organization
(Links to an external site.)
, Bob Joseph, Working Effectively with Indigenous People. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
Preamble to the William-Decision
Links to an external site.
, 2014, Supreme Court of Canada (pages 5-11).
December 2018, a ruling in favour of the 21 Nations
(Links to an external site.)
, “Since 1874, beneficiaries of the Robinson-Huron Treaty have been collecting $4 each annually.” The Supreme Court has ruled that the Federal Government is in violation of their rights, this is not an anomaly in treaty territory. Retrieved January, 2019 from ca/news.
A summary of the Residential School System
Links to an external site.
and its legacy, UBC Indigenous Foundations. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
An explanation of Indian Reserves
Links to an external site.
, UBC Indigenous Foundations. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
Indigenous Issues 101
(Links to an external site.)
, as explained by âpihtawikosisân,k.a. Chelsea Vowel (a Metis intellectual, lawyer and educator). Retrieved August 30, 2019.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
(Links to an external site.)
, retrieved from the United Nations, on September 6, 2019.

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