The Squamish Nation has become a business incubator, ramping up an entrepreneurial dynamism that has the potential to change the economic landscape of this city, the region and the province.
We are open for business, yes – and then some. Consider just a few of the major projects we are now working on: Oceanfront, Garibaldi at Squamish, the Whistler-Blackcomb expansion, Woodfibre LNG, Jericho Lands – and many, many others.
As project leaders or as partners, we have rolled up our sleeves to generate economic wealth. To do so, we are working closely with other First Nations, non-aboriginal partners and business leaders.
We live here. We are your neighbours, your business partners, your friends. This is our traditional homeland – and we aren’t going anywhere. And, as also set out in our tradition, we are very pleased to share with others, as long as they understand our fierce determination to protect the mountain, forests, river and marine habitats of our precious lands. If projects do not meet this one overriding condition, they simply will not get built.
In the 21st Century, wealth creation can no longer be at the expense of First Nations. Now part of the economic mainstream, we insist on managing our own wealth.
With a population of 4,000 on 24 reserves, we are now generating revenue by leasing some of our reserve lands. But we also own and operate a number of businesses, from gas stations and marinas to a forestry operation. I’m pleased to report many are very successful.
The 2010 Winter Olympics presented us with a host of economic opportunities as well. As part of the Sea to Sky Highway improvements and other infrastructure projects leading up the Olympics, the Squamish obtained another 1,200 acres of land for development.
The Nation’s leasing and business revenues help augment the funding we receive from the federal government. Our annual budget is $68 million, about 75 to 80 per cent of which is “own source revenue.”
We want to make sure the next generation will benefit from jobs and economic activity in the Squamish Nation. We are optimistic in this era of reconciliation and the opportunities it presents for indigenous peoples.
As a business incubator, the Nation is always looking for new opportunities and new ways to create the wealth that will bring a brighter future – for our members and for our non-aboriginal partners and neighbours.