Cormorant Island Economic Development

Tides of Change is one of the first joint economic development strategies in Canada between a First Nation and a municipality: ‘Namgis First Nation and the Village of Alert Bay. With the current Canada-wide focus on reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments, this project is a timely example of how neighbouring small communities can move past rhetoric and ‘walk the talk’ of reconciliation through joint economic development planning.

Differences in culture, governance, history, and ways of seeing and doing (i.e., worldview) all come together—and in some cases, come to a head—in the creation of a new relationship. Tides of Change is a very visible step in a long path of relationship building between ‘Namgis First Nation and the Village of Alert Bay. With support from project consultant EcoPlan International, these two communities collaboratively developed a joint economic development strategy that combines their unique assets, skills and resources. This strategy is leading to a stronger, more robust, and more resilient economy than if they had each chosen to work individually.

Fundamental to the success of Tides of Change was these two communities’ willingness to work together, and the design and application of a planning process that equally met the needs of both groups.

The resulting strategy has garnered widespread support across cultural, social and political spheres in both communities, and has already led to several positive and transformative changes on Cormorant Island.