The infrastructure gap that exists today will never be responded to successfully with grant funding from the Federal Government.
It's just the gap is too large.
The Financial Management Board and in particular, our Financial Management System can provide people with the confidence that they need in the communities to move to this new approach to managing our affairs that looks not just a cash flow funding on an annual basis, but looks at how we manage our balance sheet, debt, and assets.
We just finished our asset management plan last year, so now we're ready to use all of the tools to apply against our next capital project which is a sea wall erosion project.
That planning toolkit allowed us to follow all the processes from an RFP tendering, scoring grid, selecting the right vendor, assigning a project manager, having regular reporting from the CFO up to the Chief and Council table for any variances in the project or project delays.
When OCN (Opaskwayak Cree Nation) looks at planning and priorities, we look at it every year and every five years.
And we make a strategic plan, and we work with the community.
We call a community meeting, and we let them know this is what our old strategic plan look like, these are planning and priorities.
Are you okay with that? Is there anything else that you would think would be a priority?
And we gain the input and put it in the strategic document and we go from there.
So when we look at any capital projects, any other projects that go on with OCN, we tie it in with the strategic plan that comes from membership.
Whole planning process was quite lengthy for development of the new school for the community.
We started off undertaking a feasibility study.
And what we did with the feasibility study, we identified the need for the community.
We focused a lot on the population stats as we move forward into the future.
That determined also the space allocation for the facility.
Within the Opaskwayak Cree Nation tendering process, price is always key to our decision-making, but it's not the only final decision-making factor.
When we showed a tender, we want ensure there are social benefits as well.
Which means employment opportunities, training opportunities for Opaskwayak Cree Nation membership.
We feel that this is important and creates a legacy for the future of all Opaskwayak Cree Nation, so that eventually we can do 100% of these projects ourselves internally within our nation.
When OCN has a project going on, it's important to monitor at every step of the way to make sure that we're on time, and we're following our budget.
We don't want to go over budget and create any deficit for OCN.
One of the lessons that we learned from this experience is that we need to keep the lines of communication open.
We need to keep the lines of communication open within departments, and also within the community.
The success we've had with managing these bills has been our deep level of participation.
We have been part of the feasibility and planning stage.
We're part of the finances. We oversee the project.
We walk through it with our contractors.
And we don't just sit and wait for them, but we participate in a much richer matter.
Each one of those stakeholders needs to have confidence in the First Nations' ability to not only manage the procurement, but the management and operations of these facilities.