The Look North task force launched its first of three economic summits in Northern Manitoba April 3 in The Pas, with the second one in Thompson running April 4-5 and the final one in Churchill April 5-6.
"These summits are a unique opportunity to build meaningful partnerships that are necessary to capture the opportunities for growth and long-term development in the region," said Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen, who launched the summit series. "They will bring together communities, indigenous and non-indigenous businesses, industry and labour leaders in a collaborative forum to identify pathways leading to renewed growth and economic diversification. Strengthening relationships with northern communities and their leaders is a priority for our government."
The summits are being led by Look North task force co-chairs Opaskwayak Cree Nation Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair and Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president and CEO Chuck Davidson.
"We are looking forward to sharing ideas and helping to inspire long-term solutions for the economic sustainability of our communities," said Sinclair. "These summits are an important step towards increasing indigenous participation in building the economies of Manitoba's northern and remote regions."
"Engagement with northern communities and leaders will inform the task force as we develop a strategy to retain existing expertise and attract new businesses and investment to the north," said Davidson. "Northern Manitoba holds tremendous untapped potential and has been widely recognized as a region with significant opportunities for growth and renewal."
Sinclair and Davidson said in March 15 letter to Thompson's mayor and council inviting the city to send two representatives to the Thompson summit that the co-chairs' role would be largely about listening.
"That's because this is your summit, about your ideas, your communities and your hopes for a more prosperous Northern Manitoba," said the letter, noting that the economic summit would be led by Maori leader Karl Wixon of Arahia Pathfinders. "Karl brings vast experience in helping lead significant and successful economic development initiatives within and across indigenous communities in his home country. Unlike any seminar or session you may have attended in the past, this economic summit will be different in that it will, first and foremost, work to create a safe environment for participants to share their ideas and varying points of view with the hope that this will help instill a sense of trust and openness. During the summit, participants will be asked to identify, capture and prioritize all ideas so that they can be harnessed and harvested as they move from concept to reality, as part of the overall strategy to grow the northern economy."
Cullen said community roundtables throughout the province are also part of the open discussion on northern development and that a stronger northern economy requires partnerships with businesses and communities to generate the sustained growth and job creation needed to ensure regional prosperity.
Manitobans can contribute their own ideas to the Look North task force using the hashtag #looknorthmb or by submitting short videos, photos and writing to www.gov.mb.ca/engagement/index and those from outside Manitoba looking to invest in the region can find information about building a business in Northern Manitoba at www.looknorthmb.ca.