Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 92: Business and Reconciliation (92)

Dean Janvier working on ‘Nation Building’ through economic empowerment

February 27, 2024

APTN News: President, chief operating officer, band councilor and consultant on the set of Blackstone, Dean Janvier has done it all.

Growing up, it was the big screen that most interested Janvier, but it wasn’t meant to be.

A “fluke” job at the Assembly of First Nations has resulted in decades of work in First Nations and Canadian politics, economic development and Nation building.

Janvier, who is Dene and a member of the Cold Lake First Nations in northeastern Alberta, is now a partner in audit and assurance at Deloitte Canada.

The company recently launched Nation Building, a new effort to work with Indigenous peoples on economic empowerment.

“I do believe that creating opportunities for economic growth, where Nations have resources that they own and control themselves without having to answer to government bodies, without having to rely exclusively on transfer payments, this strengthen Nations and it gives them confidence,” says Janvier on the latest episode of Face to Face.

And when individuals in those Nations can start businesses or earn a pay cheque that’s independent of the band council, there again, you’re creating another layer of the middle class that’s independent and can have their own thoughts and ambitions as well,” says Janvier.

Nation Building is the latest initiative by the firm that has served over 250 Nations over the past 30 years.

During that time, there has been many changes in governments and in policies.

Janvier feels confident the yardsticks on the road to reconciliation have been moved too far to go back to the way things were before.

He also believes Indigenous Peoples have way more power than they’ve ever had in Canada.

“We as Indigenous Peoples in Canada, we don’t have the numbers to decide on our own which government we would prefer, so it’s on us to decide how and in what way we’re going to engage with any government and as you’ve seen over many years, we can chose a wide range of tactics and strategies to deal with any particular government. From direct confrontation to engaging with them in a constructive way and anywhere along that continuum,” says Janvier.

Deloitte Canada is the administrator of the First Nations Child and Family Services and Jordan’s Principle Settlement.

The $23.3 billion settlement is the largest in Canadian history.

It’s estimated that more than 300,000 First Nations children and families are owed a base compensation amount of $40,000.

It’s a big responsibility says Janvier, who believes there should be announcements in the coming weeks about the timelines for payments.

“Very thankful that all the people who had to experience that in their lifetime receive some measure of recognition of what they’ve been through, including their caregivers, from whom they were taken and the harm it may have caused them as individuals and to their families and to their lives. Of course, no amount of money will make up for that but it certainly goes a long way to providing some recognition for those harms they did suffer,” says Janvier.

“There was a lot of discussion about the need for long term reform, the need to rebuild the system itself and redesign it so it’s supporting families all the way through as they work through their various stages of recovery and decolonization and transformation. I think that’s an important piece so that we’re not looking at it as a system where we take individuals out of families and put them into another system but we look at strengthening families, strengthening communities.”

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