Economic development in selected aboriginal communities, lessons in strength, resilience and celebration

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Wuttunee, Wanda A.
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The research objectives addressed are: (1) to ascertain the place held by Aboriginal wisdom in economic development theory; (2) to document the blend of approaches and economic development strategies currently employed in selected Aboriginal communities; and (3) to identify the role of Aboriginal wisdom in selected Aboriginal communities that are striving for economic development in tune with individual community rhythms. In examining the cost of development, the literature suggests that a variety of approaches are taken by researchers in diverse disciplines. Examining the traditional philosophies held by Aboriginal peoples suggest approaches that have much to offer this discourse. Scholars from within Aboriginal society are also questioning the process and quality of development taking place and offering alternative approaches. Modern economy influences have diluted the universality of the role of tradition, many Aboriginal communities are attempting to blend traditional approaches with modern economic strategies. Four communities shared experiences for this research. A mode1 entitled Elements of Development, created by and for Aboriginal people, was used as a framework for the results of the research. Several conclusions can be drawn including the demand that re-examining sustainable development is imperative since an Aboriginal perspective cannot be grafted onto the current discourse, that on the whole lacks an appreciation for the role of spirituality. This micro-examination of communities does not lend itself to the development of universal models that may be rubber stamped onto other Aboriginal communities. Sensitivity to the process of development and the unique influences and common attitudes are more helpful in fostering the growth in Canada's Aboriginal economy. That said, some of the more interesting features of this research include: (1) a sophisticated screening of business opportunities that wholistically includes those aspects of community that have been given priority by the members; (2) a process for building a financial strategy that involves extensive community input with sensitivity to tradition; (3) organizations working together in an urban setting that have promise for meaningful Aboriginal contributions and finally, (4) striving for a beneficial partnership with a corporate conglomerate.