Since winning the Planning Publications Award from the Canadian Institute of Planners in May 2018 for its Comprehensive Community Planning Toolkit: Finding Bimadizowin, NADF is continuing to explore ways in which it can help First Nation communities take charge of their futures.
NADF is a not-for-profit Aboriginal organization that provides business financing, community economic development and business counselling services to First Nation and Metis people across Northern Ontario. In 2013, a $4.4 million investment through FedNor contributed, among other things, to the development of the toolkit to assist Northern Ontario Indigenous communities to make positive changes through Comprehensive Community Planning (CCP). Ultimately, the goal of CCP is to empower community members.
“To be effective, plans need to be community-driven and controlled while grounded in the community within the community context,” said Dan Paradis, Senior Project Manager for NADF. “Our communities were very clear that they did not want external consultants to devise plans for them that would wind up on a shelf.”
What sets this CCP project apart from other planning ventures is the ongoing support for community members charged with implementing their plan. The model offers technical community planning support, as well as tools, resources, and training workshops at no cost to communities given that NADF has the expertise in-house, made possible through FedNor funding.
Designed for CCP project coordinators, as well as community staff, members and partners, the toolkit offers a step-by-step guide through the holistic and inclusive CCP process, enabling communities to work toward establishing a common vision supported by a strong action plan.
“We are definitely proud of our award, but for me, the real measure of success will be when we see change happening in our communities once they reach the implementation stage,” revealed Paradis.
“We have a number of communities that are well on their way to completing the process while others are just beginning,” added Janet Knight, Senior Planner for NADF. “We are lucky to have a community of practitioners who are sharing their experiences and lessons learned, highlighting what did or did not work for the benefit of others engaged in various stages of the CCP process.”
Having completed the toolkit, NADF is setting its sights on developing other complementary resources. It plans to launch a website that will provide online tools and support, including a peer-to-peer platform, in addition to continuing its quarterly training sessions to respond to the needs of community coordinators. Paradis says it is imperative to actively continue supporting and tweaking the toolkit where needed.
This project is but one example of the types of initiatives funded by FedNor that support the federal Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario. Learn more about PGSNO at FedNor.gc.ca.