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More and more, municipalities are seeing the value of collaboration and creating joint strategies including economic development, and emergency communications. The importance of looking to surrounding First Nations for this same effort is invaluable in coming together to learn from each other and work on common priorities.

When considering the join communications approach with First Nations there are several things you need to know before reaching out. First, you’ll want the support of elected officials and senior management to move forward with approaching your First Nations neighbour. You’ll then want to learn as much as you can about your neighbours’ history and culture. It may not seem like its very different but knowing the subtleties and nuances of another’s history and culture in comparison to yours, is very important in ensuring you are approaching them with respect. You’ll also need to assess your community’s readiness for participate in the process. It takes time and resources, and you’ll need to dedicate both in order for the process to be successful.

Once you’ve done the prep work, there is a simple four-stage approach (developed by FCM) that you can follow in order to get started:

Stage A: Connect – Build a stronger relationship and formally commit to a joint process.

Stage B: Vision – Create a shared vision for the relationship and formally commit to it through a relationship agreement.

Stage C: Decide – Choose joint initiatives, develop work plans and set up a governance structure to manage implementation.

Stage D: Act – Work together to implement the work plans, strengthen the partnership and build a stronger regional community.

It’s important to remember that even if you start this process and are stalled along the way, that you have still taken the first steps in working to reconcile past differences, and building a new powerful relationship based on mutual respect, understanding and a common vision for the future.

For more information about the benefits of developing a Joint First Nation- Municipal communications and/or economic development framework, or on how to implement a strategy for approaching a neighbouring First Nation, feel free to contact us to discuss your next steps.

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