The Penticton Indian Band has added another award to its increasingly crowded mantlepiece.
Last week, the PIB Development Corporation was named the 2015 winner of the Aboriginal Economic Development Corporation Award by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
It’s the result, said Chief Jonathan Kruger, of years of hard work by the band, which has come to fruition in recent years. He commended the band, council and the PIBDC for staying strong and on track through challenges.
“We are determined to make these plans a reality,” said Kruger. “It takes a lot of work. It’s so good to see momentum building.”
PIBDC is the principal economic development, marketing and promotional organization for the band, pursuing business joint ventures and investment opportunities on behalf of the community that meet the established investment criteria developed by the development corporation, ensuring the band’s traditional values and provide a sustainable economic return.
“We had a lot of planning and a lot of relationship building,” said Kruger.
That includes not only inside the band, especially with the locatee landowners along the channel, but the City of Penticton and other neighbours.
Projects like the health centre, the fish hatchery, the Skaha Hills residential development, enhancement of the band’s watershed and now, the new bridge under construction across the channel, all contribute to building a solid economic base for the PIB.
“We are doing so many great things,” said Kruger. But the band is moving ahead, he said, not just economically, but socially as well, referencing the health centre and Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School.
“Congratulations to the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation for demonstrating the vision and courage in the world of business essential for business success,” said J.P. Gladu, president of the CCAB.
Kruger said the band is moving forward with a balanced approach, though there is still a lot of work ahead of them. Seeing the success of the projects, however is only motivation to keep on the path.
One step on that path is the Aboriginal Business Match conference, which Penticton is hosting for a third time on May 11. Rechristened this year to ABM West, the new name reflects both the spread of the concept into Saskatchewan and the expanded scope of the original event.
“We’re hosting B.C. and Alberta and inviting all First Nations and business to come,” said Kruger, who said he is proud to be co-hosting the most successful aboriginal business conference in Canada.
“It’s going to be bigger than before,” said Kruger, adding that last year’s conference generated over $60 million in business deals.
“Those numbers tell me First Nations communities are moving forward,” he said.
Kruger also volunteered some time to travel to Saskatoon, where ABM Prairies will be held in June, to help the crew there get organized. Plans are already in the works for and ABM East to be held in Ontario next year.
“I hope ABM grows right across the country,” said Kruger, adding that developing business relationships is a key part of First Nations communities becoming self sufficient.
“Government funding is not enough to take care of our needs,” said Kruger.
Communities are struggling with housing, health and many other issues, he continued.
“We need to take care of these issues, and we are,” said Kruger.
Forming these kind of business relationships makes First Nations stronger and creates opportunities for everyone, he explained.
“I think it is a part of the puzzle of reconciliation,” he said.
When it comes to developing relationships, Kruger said the PIB is setting a good example.
“I think we are setting a high standard,” he said.
The PIB is still learning, he said, but they plan to continue with those high standards as they pursue economic development.
More information about the PIBDC can be found at pibdc.ca and the ABM conference at aboriginalbusinessmatch.com.