Look North steering committee members announced

The committee appointed to guide the implementation of the provincial government’s Look North action plan includes a pair of Thompsonites and one Wabowden resident, a member of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) and a tourism business proprietor from Churchill.

Eleven people were named to the steering committee by Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton in Flin Flon Jan. 15, including co-chairs Chuck Davison of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, and Opaskwayak Cree Nation Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair, who also chaired the task force that created the Look North report and action plan for Northern Manitoba’s Economy.

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Other members include Mining Association of Manitoba executive director Andrea McLandress who will lead the mining and resources priority area, Freda Lepine of Wabowden who will lead Indigenous partnerships, infrastructure lead The Pas Mayor Jim Scott, Charlene Lafreniere of University College of the North (UCN) who will oversee housing, Becky Cianflone of Community Futures Greenstone in Flin Flon who is the lead on the enterprise priority area and UCN president Doug Lauvstad of The Pas, who leads the education and training priority area.

Lepine is Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak’s employment and training co-ordinator while Lafreniere, UCN’s director of institutional advancement, is also a former Thompson city council member.

The steering committee also includes members at large Ron D. Spence, NCN deputy chief, as well as Thompson deputy mayor Colleen Smook and Wally Daudrich of Lazy Bear Expeditions in Churchill.

“Look North represents the beginning of a northern-inspired movement to promote economic growth and change,” said Wharton in a news release. “The steering committee will lead the next phase of work to develop more detailed strategies and action plans to help unlock the tremendous economic potential that exists in this region.” 

Joint action groups will be established in each of the six priority areas to help develop strategies for action.

“Of course, economic activity in the north and the new Look North initiative are of very, very big interest to people living in the north,” said Wharton at the announcement. “The fact that we now have local stakeholders that are going to be in the subcommittees throughout Look North, working in partnership with our communities, I think it’s going to make a wonderful difference for people here. You’ve got people that are here day after day, they know what’s going on. They know the needs of the north, they know the needs of Flin Flon, Thompson, Churchill, The Pas and on and on. It’s a very exciting time. Even though we’re all north every community has its own needs and requirements. There’s a lot of synergies, but there’s also a lot of differences in different communities.”

In addition to the work being done to put Look North’s recommendations and plans into action, Wharton said the government is also working on a new mineral development protocol with First Nations, which is being led by Norway House Cree Nation Chief Ron Evans and former Manitoba deputy premier and cabinet minister Jim Downey. They held an engagement session in Winnipeg Jan. 16 on the topic of themes and tools identified by First Nations and industry so far in the process to create and implement a mutually agreed-upon framework to guide Crown-Aboriginal consultation through all phases of mineral development.

“I’d like to thank the co-chairs of the mineral development protocol as well as all members of the new steering committee and joint action groups for their work on these important initiatives,” said Wharton.

- with files from Eric Westhaver, Flin Flon Reminder

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