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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Aboriginal economic development by two Cariboo-Chilcotin forestry joint ventures Boyd, Jeremiah Joe

Abstract

This thesis will examine Aboriginal Economic Development (AED) in two Cariboo-Chilcotin commnunities involved in forestry joint ventures. In particular, the thesis will reveal how each forestry joint venture (JV) keeps politics from over-running the business, and how each aboriginal community defines the success of their forestry JV. AED is different from mainstream economic development, in that it involves an aboriginal community/nation achieving self-reliance through business, while not compromising their traditional culture, values, or language. AED can be seen as a vehicle to lead aboriginal communities towards self-reliance. A JV is one of many options to move the AED vehicle. Both JV’s examined in this thesis contribute to AED in different ways. The Ecolink JV has not been very profitable but has 100% aboriginal employment even in management positions. In contrast, the West Chilcotin Forest Products JV is highly profitable but has 30-40% aboriginal employment and only one aboriginal employee in a management position. So which business is successful? Most interviewees chose profitability, employment, or both as indicators for success of their forestry JV. However, success is defined differently for each aboriginal commununity as a whole, so this research adapts the AED framework to each aboriginal community. Much of the literature states that in order for aboriginal businesses to succeed, politics should be minimized from the business, meaning the elected chief and councilors should not be directly involved with the business. Each JV had their own way but they did it with an elected chief and councilor sitting on the Board of Directors level since inception. Not all components of AED were completely fulfilled by the two forestry JV’s studied. Most notably, the preservation of traditional culture, values, and language was lacking and neither aboriginal community had gained additional control over forest management decisions on their asserted traditional territory. An aboriginal community nation needs some degree of control over their traditional territory in order to truly fulfill AED. This thesis concludes that forestry JV’s can contribute to AED by helping to build aboriginal capacity needed for self-reliance but JV’s should not be seen as a political opportunity to gain more control.

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