MPs of the Pacific caucus will be rolling into Chilliwack Wednesday for “historic” meetings with Sto:lo chiefs, politicians and business leaders, say event organizers.
Sto:lo Community Futures (SCF) is hosting a full day of meetings on July 27, that will bring together the caucus with indigenous and non-indigenous sectors alike, on Sto:lo land, known in Halq’meylem as Sólh Téméxw.
“We will be showcasing the vision and successes of the SCF, like establishing the Sto:lo Means Business program,” said SCF chair Colin Pennier, chief of Skowlitz First Nation.
He called the meetings with the Pacific caucus of the Liberal government “historic” and a natural extension of SCF’s ongoing strategies.
“Getting the Chiefs and representatives of all the Stó:lō communities together with the federal caucus, offers an excellent opportunity to address our concerns, as we continue to work towards nation-to-nation building, a key focus of the current federal government,” said Pennier.
Morning sessions will be at Sto:lo Government House on the Coqualeetza grounds, in Chilliwack, and will include Liberal cabinet and MPs sitting down with the BC Turkey Farmers Association, the aerospace industry, the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) as well as mayors and FVRD reps.
In the afternoon the proceedings shift to Squiala longhouse, for a luncheon, cultural performances and private meeting between Chiefs and Sto:lo reps from 24 communities, and the members of the Pacific caucus.
“With Louis as the Chilliwack-Hope candidate last fall for the Liberal Party, it afforded us a perfect opportunity to host the caucus here on our lands, as an avenue to showcase what we’ve been up to. Overall I think it’s a win for our leadership, and the SCF,” said Pennier.
Partnerships are key to Sto:lo Means Business, he noted, such as the ones forged between SCF and Van City or BMO, to increase micro lending opportunities, training and business growth for the more than 250 aboriginal businesses in Sto:lo territory.
The long-term plan is to create a Sto:lo Centre of Excellence for business, Pennier said.
“This is an excellent opportunity to build bridges between the indigenous and non-indigenous governments and businesses in our local communities,” said Louis De Jaeger, SCF executive board member, and 2015 candidate for Chilliwack-Hope, in the last Federal election.
“By bringing the Pacific caucus into Sólh Téméxw, SCF is providing opportunities for all local indigenous and non-indigenous leaders and businesses, to place their issues and concerns squarely in front of the federal decision-makers.”