The timing was less than ideal. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation was still in the early stages of developing their 5 year economic development plan, so attending a 2.5-day business matching event with other business-ready companies and communities seemed out of the question.
“We had partial ideas and projects that were only initially developed,” explains Chief Executive Officer, Ted Adnitt. “But Chief and Council decided it would be great to attend to make contacts if nothing else – but we wanted to make it worth it.”
So Ted and his team packed their bags and headed to ABM Vancouver Island. By also having Chief Financial Officer, Jenn Schofield, and, Economic Development Officer, Jamie Bassett, along for the ride, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation was able to maximize their attendance by having separate focuses. “By having individual schedules we were able to tackle the needs of our own departments and have a level of expertise,” Jenn reveals. “When I was meeting an accounting firm, Ted connected with energy companies that we could develop partnerships with.”
A gas station had always been on Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s to-do list, Ted said, but the steps to get a deal seemed like a process that would only take place in a distant future. At ABM Vancouver Island, Ted connected with McDougall Energy and Urban Systems to discuss ideas and develop a plan for feasibility studies. “[ABM] pushed us to take that first step, whether or not we were ready,” Ted laughed.
Meanwhile, Jenn opportunity to meet with St. John’s Ambulance and inspired her to create a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation emergency response plan. “The weight of being prepared when your Nation is in a tsunami zone becomes urgent,” Jenn revealed. “Being able to get the guidance of someone like St. John’s Ambulance was very helpful.”
At the end of the 2.5 days the team was exhausted. “For me, the 20-minute meetings were a combination of business and lounge,” Ted added. “It was so easy to continue the conversations straight into the evening.”
It’s often said that communities at any stage of economic development can benefit from attending ABM. From preliminary ideas to potential business deals, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation stands as a prime example of that advantage.
“We had back to back meetings, it was fantastic for us,” Jenn recalled. “I was tired but I enjoyed it because there was so much there for us. I would encourage other Nations to do the same – especially if they think they don’t think they have the capacity.”
About Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation
The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Administration is located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, in Tofino, British Columbia. The Tla-o-qui-aht Nation and its people, are a nation with over 1100 Members. The Administration is comprised of about 32 employees that continues to grow as the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation’s Lands, Economic, and local growth continues. As a traditionally strong nation, our teachings continue to honor our traditional Governance of our Ha’wiih (Hereditary Chiefs), and in doing so we provide service to our members to care, and promote our traditional values.
Want to connect with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation? You can request an appointment with them ABM Vancouver Island.
Check out our opportunities page to explore more opportunities out of the ABM National Network at our upcoming ABM events.