Success Stories

 Aboriginal Business and Investment Council finalized

Aboriginal Business and Investment Council finalized

VICTORIA - As the province attracts increased investment opportunities, the new Aboriginal Business and Investment Council is ready to help move projects forward that create jobs for families across British Columbia.

The first meeting of the 13-member council took place today, led by Chief Councillor Ellis Ross, who was appointed chair of the council in December 2011. The other 12 members represent First Nations and private-sector organizations throughout British Columbia.

As part of 'Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan', the council will identify alternative business models that encourage economic development in Aboriginal communities across the province, supporting greater participation of Aboriginal people in the economy. The council will provide investors with the tools they need to engage and partner with B.C. First Nations, enhancing their capacity for economic participation.

The Aboriginal Business and Investment Council will work closely with the BC Jobs and Investment Board to identify business and investment opportunities.


Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell -

"When we talk about economic development and investment in the province, building relationships with Aboriginal communities and understanding their perspectives are necessary first steps."

Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Mary Polak -

"Aboriginal people have a crucial role to play in B.C.'s Jobs Plan, and partnerships with Aboriginal people are essential to help grow local economies. The Aboriginal Business and Investment Council is a valuable resource to help Aboriginal business flourish and increase economic opportunities for communities across the province."

Learn More:

To learn more about the BC Jobs Plan, visit:

A backgrounder follows.


Media Relations
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
250 356-7104


May 11, 2012 Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation

Aboriginal Business and Investment Council

Current member:

Ellis Ross

Ellis Ross, chair of the Aboriginal Business Investment Council, is the recently elected Chief Councillor of the Haisla Nation, although he has been a full-time Councillor since 2003. He has had many portfolios over his terms but has always maintained his connection to those files that have an Aboriginal rights and title component or economic development. He has worked for the private sector and the public sector, and operated his own business in partnership with his brothers through the 1990s. Over the past 12 years, he has coached and assisted Haisla basketball teams. Mr. Ross also coached the senior girls' basketball team to a zone championship.

New members:

Brian Assu - North Island

Brian Assu has a background in the commercial and sentinel fisheries in the Campbell River area. He also holds prominent positions on a number of boards and councils including the Cape Mudge Indian Band Council, the Hamatla Treaty Society, the Comox-Strathcona Regional Board and the South Coast Advisory Board, and chairs the A-Tlegay Fisheries Society and the Laich-Kwil-Tach Treaty Society. In addition, he is a Canadian alternate member with the Pacific Salmon Commission and the Chair of the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program with BC Hydro. Assu is currently a Councillor with the We Wai Kai First Nation.

Chief Kimberley C. Baird - Delta South

Chief Kim Baird's ancestral name is Kwuntiltunaat. She has served as elected Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation since 1999. Chief Baird successfully negotiated B.C.'s first urban treaty, a triumph that she saw through from beginning to end since she started work for the Tsawwassen First Nation as a land claims researcher in 1990. On Dec. 6, 2007, history was made when Chief Baird signed Tsawwassen First Nation's first treaty in Ottawa on Parliament Hill. She has the distinction of being the first Aboriginal woman to address the B.C. Legislature on Oct. 15, 2007, when the B.C. Treaty Legislation process was initiated.

Chief Baird has received a number of prestigious awards, including Canada's Top 40 Under 40 Award, the National Aboriginal Women in Leadership Distinction Award, Vancouver Magazine's Power 50 Award, and Canada's Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award. Chief Baird is the first First Nation representative on the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors.

She is also a member of the BC Hydro board of directors, the Mayors' Council on Transportation, the First Nations Employment Society, the Vancouver Skills and Employments Program, the Minister's Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women, the Tale'awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation, the University of B.C. Vancouver President's Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, the Chief Joe Mathias BC Scholarship Fund and the Tsawwassen First Nation Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors.

Toby C. Baker - North Vancouver/Lonsdale

Toby Baker acquired an education in business and law from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. For the last 11 years, he has applied lessons learned to achieve economic development objectives in First Nations communities in British Columbia. Baker is driven by a passion to articulate and realize available opportunities on First Nation land through a value-oriented lens. He has achieved tangible results and desires to continue to actively contribute and engage collaboratively for the purpose of stimulating strategic dialogue for the purpose of advancing local and regional benefits created vis-a-vis First Nations economic development investment.

Arnold Bellis - North Coast

Arnie Bellis is the chief executive officer and president of Gwaii Wood Products. He is a member of the Strastas (Eagle) Clan and is the former two-term elected vice president with the Council of the Haida Nation. From 2002 to 2004, he was an elected councillor with Old Massett Village. Bellis was involved in the Haida Reconciliation Agreement with British Columbia in 2009 and is a former Chair of the Haida Power Authority and a current member of the Haida Gwaii Health Communities Society. He has been involved in numerous fisheries issues and the Haida land use planning processes.

Chief Shane Gottfriedson - Kamloops/North Thompson

Shane Gottfriedson is the 12th elected Chief of the Tk'emlups Indian Band situated in the traditional territory of the Secwepemc people. An iron worker by trade, Chief Gottfriedson's work ethic has been reflected in his leadership, where he has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to creating sustainable opportunities for the First People. As a result of his direction, the Tk'emlups Indian Band became debt-free almost a year ahead of schedule, owns and operates 10 corporations, and is operating year-to-year with an increasing surplus. He currently serves on several regional, provincial and federal committees and holds the economic development portfolio within the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. In addition, he serves on the BC Chiefs Health Committee and is an advocate for Aboriginal child welfare reform. Chief Gottfriedson also served on the 1993 Canada Summer Games Board of Directors, the 2006 BC Summer Games Board of Directors and the 2011 Western Canadian Games Board. He coached the Tk'emlups Coyotes, a local youth hockey team, to the Western Canada Native Hockey Championships.

Roger B. Harris - Skeena

Roger Harris is a Principal of Harris Palmer, a consultancy providing strategic advice, community engagement and government relations to clients. Previously, Harris was the vice president of Aboriginal and Community Partnerships with Northern Gateway Pipelines and a B.C. Member of the Legislative Assembly representing the riding of Skeena. Before being elected to the Legislative Assembly, Harris worked extensively in the forest industry and has owned and operated a number of small businesses. He is currently president of Kalum Quarry Limited Partnership, a director of the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative of British Columbia and a director on the Kitsumkalum Economic Development Board. In addition, Harris has been serving as B.C.'s forest safety ombudsman since the role was created in 2006.

Chief Jonathan J. Kruger - Penticton

Chief Jonathan Kruger is a member of the Okanagan Nation and Chief of the Penticton Reserve. Active in the community, he serves as a director on the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation and the South Okanagan Similkameen Sylix Environmental Committee. In addition, Chief Kruger previously served as chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance Natural Resources Committee and a band councillor with the Penticton Indian Band. Chief Kruger has extensive environmental knowledge and experience in sustainable economic development.

Corrina Leween - Nechako Lakes

Corinna Leween was Chief of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation between 2003 and 2011, the youngest Cheslatta person ever to hold that position. Leween is the great-granddaughter of the legendary Chief Louie of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation. She has worked for the Lake Babine Nation for several years as its general manager and housing coordinator. Leween has been instrumental in local and regional economic development initiatives and has guided the Cheslatta Nation to become a driving force in the northern economy. She is a graduate of the University of Victoria Band Administration Program. The Rockies Aboriginal Women Society presented her with the Most Dedicated Aboriginal Leader Award. She is also involved in many committees and currently serves as chair of the board for the Northeast Aboriginal Business Centre.

Fiona Macfarlane - West Vancouver/Sea To Sky

Fiona Macfarlane is currently the Managing Partner, Western Canada and Chief Inclusiveness Officer with Ernst & Young. Before joining Ernst & Young's South African firm in 1983, Macfarlane was trained as a lawyer in Cape Town. Her efforts in the immigrant community have been recognized with two awards, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council's CBC Business Leader Award in 2008 and York University's makeMORE Ontario Connections Award for Immigrants in 2010. Macfarlane's volunteer and professional achievements garnered her a place among Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100, presented by the Women's Executive Network in 2011. She is a governor with the Business Council of British Columbia and a member of the executive committee. Macfarlane has written and spoken extensively on indirect taxation. She holds her Bachelor of Arts in Commerce and her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Cape Town, and her Master of Laws from Cambridge University. In 2011, she was made an Honorary Chartered Accountant.

Donald A. McInnes - West Vancouver/Capilano

Donald McInnes is the executive vice chairman of Alterra Power Corp., a British Columbia-based renewable power development company with a broad portfolio of clean energy projects. McInnes currently serves as chair of the Clean Energy Association of British Columbia and is a director of Prostate Cancer Canada. He is a recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award-British Columbia and Yukon Division and is a governor of the British Columbia Business Council. He was a participant in the inaugural year (2010) of the Simon Fraser University Leadership Exchange Program for the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business and was bestowed a doctor of technology honoris causa by the BC Institute of Technology in 2009. In addition, he was a finalist for 2008 and a recipient of the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Pacific Division Cleantech category. McInnes is a frequent public speaker and contributor to the debate on public policy and the integration and value of clean power.

Chief Derek Orr - Prince George/Mackenzie

Chief Derek Orr is Chief of the McLeod Lake Indian Band. Previously, he was a youth councillor with the McLeod Lake Indian Band and a land referral officer with the same band. Active in his community, Orr serves as a director on the board of Duz Cho Logging and Duz Cho Construction as well as on the boards of Summit Pipelines and the McLeod Lake Indian Band Exploration Corporation. Orr is a graduate of the Business Management Program at the College of New Caledonia and is a certified life skills coach trainer.

Sidney A. Peltier - Skeena

Sid Peltier is the owner and president of White River Helicopters Inc. and Pelair Helicopters. Active in the community, he is the vice president of the Northwest B.C. Métis Association, a director of the Kermode Friendship Society, and a committee member on the Métis Consultation Project Team Enbridge. Previously, Peltier was the chair of the Métis Ad Hoc Adoption Committee with Métis Nation British Columbia.


Media Relations
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
250 356-7104

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Kamloops is the third largest city in British Columbia outside of the Lower Mainland. The city offers a relaxed and safe lifestyle in a spectacular, natural setting. Kamloops offers unparalleled research and educational capabilities, excellent transportation infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce and is the transportation hub for rail, air and roadways of the Interior of B

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