Comprehensive Community Planning
Gitanyow, Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell and Kispiox…4 community plans were completed in 2012. What an amazing and encouraging process to be part of. Many people shared their thoughts and dreams about where they live and what they would like to see in their community.
Moving the community plans into Action
GGC has been working with the 4 bands to find ways of working together to implement the community plans, band councils, and staff has been focusing on the top 4 areas of concern, strengthening governance, meeting core housing needs, sustainable jobs and businesses and community safety. Please read on for further updates on how the community plans have been implemented.
Year 1 Band Council Governance
GGC applied for a small grant with New Relationship Trust to strengthen band council governance. We have had a number of meetings and gatherings exploring how to do this is important work.
We started off with a self-assessment tool to have each council member reflect on their roles and responsibilities as a Council member. The assessment focused on the 7 main areas of governance. From the self-assessment came an outline of the areas that need to be strengthened. A number of training sessions around governance took place, roles and responsibilities, reporting out & annual planning cycles. A draft roles and responsibilities policy was developed and now sits with each Council for final approval. The roles and responsibilities are laid out in three main parts – responsibilities of the people, of the Council and of Administration. Besides the self-assessment tool, an annual strategic plan (based upon the CCP five year plan) & a progress report template was created to help report activities out to membership about the last quarter or 6 months’ work, relating to the CCP and community activities. The cover page of the Gitanyow progress report is shown below.
Contact your local Band Office for a copy of the most recent annual Progress Report.
We also spent some time to develop a governance manual to assist the Bands and leadership with strengthening governance. A draft manual has been developed and will now make up the Governance section of the technical CORE report that pulls together all the relevant policies of Band Council and Administration. Other training through this initiative included Economic Development Board training, Financial Literacy (understanding financial statements) and Ethical Decision Making of elected governments by AFOA . The Ethical decision making was the best training!
Year 2 Housing Policy
The last main focus for supporting the Band Councils implementing their community plans was to update the housing policies for private homeownership, rent to own homes, social houses and renovations. This policy work is guided by a Gitksan Housing Working Group. This was one of the main aspects of the people’s voice in the community – learning about housing policy and participating in developing a community driven and approved policy. Brochures about the 4 main areas of on reserve housing programs, identifying what the core housing needs are and working with both ISC and CMHC to build awareness about this program has been some of the work to date.
And one of the most fun projects was to work with UBC, GGC agreed to take on 2 Graduate Level students from SCARP’s new Indigenous Community Planning program. Kate K and Lesley C spent a few months with us learning about the Gitksan planning process, implementing the plans and working with the Band Administrations on reporting out – drafting a progress report template. They also helped co-facilitate the community education housing sessions, talking with community members about housing. The two students finished their practicum with flying colors and have graduated! Congratulations to them both on a job well done. Many thanks to Scott Graham of Sparc BC who was the lead facilitator in our community planning process!
Implementing Year 3 Sustainable Jobs and Businesses:
One of the four main areas that community members were most concerned about was sustainable jobs and training. GGC with Gitanyow, Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell and Kispiox participated in youth training pilot. This pilot provided training and dialogue sessions with the communities to develop a Gitksan integrated wrap-around approach to support youth in their lifelong learning paths to realize a Good Life. The Ama Didils Job readiness workbook was created. Finding supports & focusing on strengths are key steps in this self-help workbook.
Moving in to Community Safety Planning Year 4
Gitanyow, Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell and Kispiox worked in partnership with GGC and Public Safety Canada to hold dialogue sessions with their community members to identify safety needs. A key part of understanding safety needs also to work together to prevent further concerns so some time and focus was spent on exploring a Gitksan perspective on wellness.
Almost 6 months of community engagement sessions were held in the 4 communities to build a better understanding of what the safety needs are and to pull together a Gitksan wellness model. A photovoice project to create a wellness mural was completed, asking members to share their favorite photos of ‘wellness’. Wellness is based upon four key relationships of your being – relationship to your mother and relations = wilnataahl, your spirit = ootsin, father and relations – wilsawitxw and relationship to the land – lax yip!
Please cite: Gitksan Government Commission, Community Safety Planning, Gitxsan Wellness Model; March 2015. http://www.gitxsangc.com/administration/community-development-planning/
In July 2009 at the GGC strategic planning session Band Councils gave GGC the mandate to support the communities to start and complete the comprehensive community planning.
GGC, Gitanyow, Glen Vowell, Gitanmaax and Kispiox have pursued a partnership with the social planning and research council of BC, SparcBc, to implement a community development approach to comprehensive community planning. A community development approach gets community members involved to work together to create a safe place to share ideas, dreams and create a path to realize safe community living and a clear shared vision on where the people want to focus their limited community based resources on. The outcome of this: a community vision made by the community members themselves!
Key to this approach is to have community based planning facilitators in each of the four communities. Glen Vowell identified Jillane Spence as their planning person. Francine Lawlor (Gitanyow), Murphy Green (Gitanmaax) and Mike Johnson (Kispiox). We partnered up with the Northwest Health Community Engagement Hub hosted by Gitksan Health Society working with the eight (8) Bands in the area; Moricetown, Hagwilget, Kispiox, Glen Vowell, Gitanmaax, Gitsegukla, Gitwangak and Gitanyow. Verna Howard was hired as the Community Hub Planner and is a key part of our Planning Project Team. The planning themes were organized around the beautififul teaching of “majagalee“, children are flowers, focusing on positive community living today and in the future.
A nine step planning process was identified through community sessions, dialogue and feedback from the planning facilitators and presentations to the community as to how this ‘planning’ should be done. After workshops and training sessions about what “community engagement” is, we moved to holding the community-based sessions.
Many thanks to all who participated in the Honoring Our Voices community development approach to community planning! Thank you to Scott Graham of Sparc BC who was our lead facilitator and writer, & to Amanda Willis for the beautiful layouts of the community plans. Our team is also grateful for the support from each of the Councils, band administrators, staff members, community planning facilitators & Verna Howard, Hub Planner, community members who helped make this engagement work meaningful. A big thank you also to the fluent speakers & Gitksan Wet’suewt’en Education Society in mapping out the appropriate Gitksan terms and concepts in the main planning areas.
For a copy of the plans, please contact your local band office or check their website.