While it might not give him rock-star status (which he kind of already has), former Grand Chief Matthew Mukash is feeling “excited” about being reappointed to the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board (NAEDB) because of what he can offer to Canada’s Aboriginal people.
The NAEDB serves a unique function as the only national, non-political organization of its kind that works to promote the growth of Aboriginal business in Canada. The board serves as a liaison between policy makers, legislators, government departments, and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal business and community leaders to provide counsel on all matters pertaining to Aboriginal economic development.
“For me my reappointment means that the federal government has recognized my contribution to the work of the board and I am very excited about this,” said Mukash.
Though Mukash has already spent three years on the board, traveling across the country from reserve to reserve, meeting with the rest of the committee and other powers that be, getting a reappointment has its own prestige.
“I have had the honour of working alongside Matthew for the past three years now and I really enjoy and admire the input he puts into the deliberations that we have in trying to look at solutions to improve the economic situation of Aboriginal people in Canada. He has got a great wisdom that he offers to these deliberations and I am pleased to learn that he has been reappointed,” said Dawn Madahbee, member of the NAEDB executive committee.
Madahbee said Mukash’s contributions have been both unique and indispensable when it comes to bringing a northern perspective into the discussions, particularly when it involves developing economies in the far north. It was Mukash who was able to get the other board members and government to recognize that programs cannot be delivered in a one-size-fits-all format and Madahbee said she admired his ability to make this point.
She also said Mukash was instrumental in helping the NAEDB develop the Aboriginal Economic Framework for Canada.
“Our board provided advice to that process and he was integral to that process,” said Madahbee.
Though being a board member is not a fulltime gig as the board only meets several times a year along with other teleconferencing meetings, Mukash said he finds the work very redeeming because he has the opportunity to meet with so many business leaders and Aboriginal communities as well as major political figures.
He gave the example that when the NAEDB is working on an infrastructure project their meetings will automatically involve community leaders as well as the Minister of Transport.
“The idea is to get government departments to contribute to the planning process and to get the resources that are needed to realize a project,” said Mukash.
Being on the NAEDB appeals to Mukash because he has had the opportunity to see just how advanced some of Canada’s reserves are. Working on the board alongside Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos from BC, Mukash had the opportunity to visit Louie’s community, which is home to Canada’s only Aboriginal-owned winery.
“There is a large-scale tourism operation there with hotels and a centre that can accommodate many. When you go there you are so proud to be Native because it’s all run by Native people and you get tourists from around the world who have come to visit the resort,” said Mukash.
Mukash pointed out that this community, like many others, has benefited from programs that he has worked on the past three years.
While Mukash may not make as many headlines with the NAEDB as he did when he was Grand Chief, working behind the scenes, directly with the people and government has agreed with him and he hopes it will continue for another three years.
“For me, this is very satisfying. I get to learn a lot of things, not only about the condition of Aboriginal people but also about how the government operates,” said Mukash.