Flying Dust community planning delegation attends meetings in Ottawa


By Kathy Gallant - source Meadow Lake Now

As part of their Comprehensive Community Planning (CCP) process, three Flying Dust representatives attended meetings in Ottawa last week to share the work being done locally.

Flying Dust Chief Jeremy Norman, Economic Development Director Albert Derocher, and Community Planning Coordinator Joseph Tootoosis were invited to present to top officials at both Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and the Assembly of First Nations about the Flying Dust CCP and its priorities. The overall goal of the Sept. 7 meeting was to share information to be included in a report to the Prime Minister’s office this fall, namely on the new fiscal relationship between Canada and First Nations.

Tootoosis began his role with Flying Dust in October 2015, and in early 2016, a series of community engagement meetings began to take place with a cross-section of Flying Dust community members. He said band leadership has been supportive, including Chief Norman and fellow council members. During these meetings, many of the community’s needs, strengths and goals were outlined, and Tootoosis along with leadership from Flying Dust have been working towards implementation and funding. 

“Community planning benefits First Nations, not just the plan itself but the process,” he said. “One thing [during the Ottawa meeting] that was outlined was not just the need for new monies, but the need to plan to spend those monies.”

Education, youth and recreation, lands and resources, and housing are some of the focal points of Flying Dust’s current CCP, but its evolution is ongoing. Community planning has been something many First Nations have started to work on in the province, with Flying Dust being one of the leading communities. Tootoosis said when he started his job nearly two years ago, there were seven First Nations doing this type of work, and now there are 21, and a number more are interested.

“I’m pretty proud that we’ve been able to have some success,” he said. “We’re capable of doing this for ourselves. Other communities are having the opportunity to do it, and that’s one of the reasons why we went to Ottawa, is to show that - and one of the reasons they wanted to bring us out there - is to show people who’ve never seen or heard of CCP all the benefits it can bring to a community.”

Flying Dust is working on the establishment of a web dashboard, a statistical hub of information that will show successes, performance indicators, and list points for the community to work on. Tootoosis said once the hub is ready, it can be used as a leadership tool and as an aid to strategic planning.

“At the same time there are many tangible things in a community you can’t measure with statistics, like the strength of a community, its resilience, our families, the value of the elders and the value of our youth," he said. "One other thing that has come out of our consultation meetings wanting to build even stronger ties with Meadow Lake. We’ve had good relations with [Mayor Gary Vidal], he was right there with us for our bid for the 2019 First Nations Games. We want to move together as one community, it will benefit a lot of people, that relationship is important.”  

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