The Nisga`a—People of the Nass River—have occupied and thrived in British Columbia’s Nass Valley since before recorded time. Having successfully negotiated British Columbia’s first modern treaty in 1998, Nisga`a is a self-governing Nation with nearly 7,000 citizens.
Residing in the Nisga`a Villages of Gingolx, Laxgalts`ap, Gitwinksihlkw, Gitlaxt`aamiks (formerly New Aiyansh) and beyond the Nass Valley in Terrace, Prince Rupert/Port Edward, Greater Vancouver, and across North America, the Nisga`a Nation is represented by Nisga`a Lisims Government (NLG) — a modern, forward-thinking administration based on traditional culture and values. Nisga`a Government, comprised of NLG, the four Nisga`a Village Governments, and three Urban Locals, has the authority under its treaty to pass laws on a broad range of matters. Its lawmaking authority is concurrent with federal and provincial authorities and is designed to assure democracy, transparency, and accountability. The Nisga`a Final Agreement, the first formal modern day comprehensive treaty in the province, provides the Nation control over their land, including the forestry and fishing resources contained in it, and opens the door for joint economic initiatives in the development of the Nisga`a Nation’s natural resources.
Nisga`a leaders and citizens acknowledge the need to adapt with the changing needs of the Nation and Nisga`a citizens and they recently embarked on a significant journey to re-envision and redefine the meaning of economic prosperity. The result was the Wilp Sìayuukhl Nisga`a (WSN) Economic Prosperity Strategic Plan (EPSP) that identifies the vast potential within the Nation’s natural, cultural, human and financial resources. It sets forth a strong vision of a thriving economy that includes social development and wellbeing for all Nisga`a. This commitment is reflected in its vision statement:
Nisga`a Nation Vision
“Sayt-K`il`im-Goot: one heart, one path, one nation.”
The Nisga`a have a long, full history of managing their lands and resources according to Nation laws and culture. In its future endeavours, the Nation acknowledges the need to work together to succeed in trust and friendship. It is therefore committed to enacting the EPSP by tapping into the full potential of its citizens and resources in a way that includes all Nisga`a. The EPSP provides a clear message that the Nisga`a economy will be managed based on Nisga`a values and through the certainty of the Nisga`a Treaty.
Nisga`a Growth Corporation
An integral part of the EPSP is the establishment of a new corporate entity, the Nisga`a Growth Corporation (NGC). The NGC is wholly owned by the Nisga`a Nation as sole Shareholder. The mandate of the NGC is to develop a profitable organization that generates economic benefit, builds capacity, develops economic well-being, and creates employment opportunities for the Nisga`a Nation, while ensuring opportunities are in alignment with the laws and practices of Ayuukhl Nisga`a and in the spirit of Saytk`ilhl Wo`osim, or “Common Bowl”.
Current and near-future business opportunities exist across a broad spectrum, including entrepreneurial ventures, traditional cultural initiatives, Nisga`a government-run projects, real estate and land development, and industry and natural resources prospects. It is important to note that there are immediate demands for NGC to participate in high-value mining and energy projects. For example, several Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs) have been signed with mining companies, and the Nisga`a are active partners in the Ksi Lisims LNG project, a unique alliance among the Nisga`a Nation, Rockies LNG, and Western LNG.
Taking a broader view of potential economic opportunities, the process of developing the EPSP revealed an abundance of available resources to be utilized in making those opportunities come to life. This includes:
- Physical/natural resources: mushrooms & berries, seafood & salmon, timber, land, aggregate, minerals, wind & renewable energy, hot springs, medicinal plants, rights to the Nass River, recreational lakes, and tourism. Infrastructure that has already been developed includes the museum, small commercial dock, lodges, trails, cell & fibre optics, greenhouses, café & garden centre, and the Nass camp airport and an exclusive hunting guiding license partnership with a single-guide outfitter.
- Human resources: red seal journeypersons, fishers, artists, loggers, business people, traditional knowledge, and marriage licensing.
- Operating enterprises: It is expected that the existing NLG operating entities that could be better operated as for-profit companies will be transferred to the NGC on a strategically planned basis, one-at-time.
- Financial resources included the Nisga`a Settlement Trust (restricted to investment guidelines), the Nisga`a Economic Development Fund, and loan repayment.
These resources represent potential “fuel” for opportunities. The EPSP highlights that developing policies, support, and structure will be important to link resources to opportunities.
“Strengthening our economic infrastructure and human capacity is our best offense to proactively meet the current demands and pressures on the Nisga`a Nation.”
~ WSN Economic Prosperity Strategic Plan
As the NGC works through the start-up phase, the Board of Directors (the Board) is ready to hire its first Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This offers a rare opportunity for an Indigenous leader to take the helm of a for-profit business which has a central social mandate and assist in defining the future economic prosperity of the Nisga`a Nation. The intent of the NGC is to function as an active management holding company, with strong industry connections to meet the mandate provided by the EPSP. To create a strong foundation for implementing the EPSP, the new CEO must quickly gain an understanding of the political, governance and legal factors and the economic, environmental, and social concerns impacting the Nisga`a Nation. Forming positive connections and relationships with Nisga`a citizens, businesses and government will be important for the new CEO in gaining credibility and generating traction for immediate opportunities.
Some priorities to be addressed in the short term by the new CEO will include:
- Organizing NGC’s start-up phase and gaining an understanding of the broad business agenda embedded in the EPSP;
- Developing an initial operating structure, hiring a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and other senior staff;
- Developing a framework to systematically prioritize initiatives that align with Nisga`a values and making recommendations to the Board on priorities and the sequence of short-term and medium-term actions.
- Understanding and prioritizing immediate potential contracts and incoming requests from businesses and Nisga`a citizens and organizations;
- Creating a plan to implement the various IBAs and potential mine services agreements and defining the participatory role of NGC with the NLG;
- Developing an outward communications plan for all business opportunities including those related to IBA implementation; Bringing clarity around what is going to be done and what the expected roles will be for contractors; and
- Attracting Nisga`a citizens to come home and channel their knowledge into the EPSP; Hiring Nisga`a citizens to ignite current opportunities as well as develop the next generation of business leaders.
Once established, the ongoing role of the CEO will be to oversee and manage the operating business activities of NGC and its anticipated subsidiary businesses. Being responsible for the entire business portfolio for NGC, the CEO will identify new business ventures and investments which are in line with the Wilp Sìayuukhl Nisga’a's (WSN’s) EPSP, investment policy, individual industry strategic plans and other guiding documents established by and for NGC.
The CEO will build and work with their Management Team and the Board to pursue new business ventures and operate existing businesses to maximize profit in balance with the defined values and objectives of the Nisga`a Nation, while maintaining appropriate separation of business and NLG governance through the developed structures and policies. The NGC is established to operate independently from the NLG Executive but is accountable to the Shareholder by fulfilling the WSN EPSP and providing timely and transparent financial performance statements and other performance metrics. The NGC Board is appointed by the Shareholder in a manner that will provide for NGC operational stability notwithstanding NLG elections.
The CEO is primarily responsible to:
- Work closely with the Board to develop NGC’s strategic planning processes (including business planning) in alignment with the WSN Economic Prosperity Strategic Plan;
- Work closely with the Board Chair to provide support for strong corporate governance, including preparation for Board meetings; advice and recommendations for decision-making; ensuring action items are carried out; and providing timely and transparent reporting to the Board;
- Develop a Management Team with appropriate skills to translate strategic plans into operational businesses and partnerships and provide direction and support to the Management Team to achieve goals;
- Develop operating plans and budgets for existing businesses, and develop business cases for proposed investments and business ventures to be presented to the Board and Shareholders for approval;
- Interpret financial information and other reports as part of managing the ongoing operations of NGC and its businesses and partnerships, including providing oversight of NGC finances, annual budget preparation, cost control, financial management and accountability;
- Provide regular and timely financial reports to the Board, as well as reports on other key measures of economic and well-being success, as well as similar reports to the Shareholder;
- Maintain professional relationships with major clients, suppliers, and stakeholders, including Nisga`a citizens, entities, and organizations;
- Develop and ensure appropriate policies are in place to govern operations of NGC and its business and partnerships;
- Consult with legal, financial, and other advisors as needed to fulfill their fiduciary duty;
- Ensure that appropriate steps are taken to keep business operation in compliance with relevant legislation and regulations;
- Represent NGC at various conferences, meetings, and other public events as part of ongoing communication strategy and opportunity development;
- In collaboration with the Chair, serve as the primary spokesperson and representative of NGC, ensuring the organization and its services are positioned positively within various industries, with current and potential partners, investors, financiers, regulators, etc.;
- Build and maintain strong community relationships within the Nation and with neighbouring Nations:
-Develop and maintain positive professional relationships between NGC and stakeholder groups relevant to NGC businesses, including the Nisga`a Lisims Government, the Four Nisga`a Villages, three Nisga`a Urban Local Societies, British Columbia and Federal governments, and adjacent First Nations, etc.;
-Develop and maintain appropriate corporate, legal, and social reporting structures to the sole shareholder; and
- Successfully negotiate contracts, joint ventures, and other business arrangements, including potentially participating in Impact Benefit Agreement negotiations to achieve objectives.
Experience and Qualifications
The successful candidate will bring:
- Lived experience with Indigenous cultures and ways of being and knowing; An ability to lead in a culturally safe and respectful way with diverse Indigenous participants, communities and organizations; Specific knowledge of Nisga`a laws and culture would be an asset;
- Substantial experience in Indigenous business management across multiple sectors and industries; Direct experience working in a multicultural/First Nations organization;
- Past successful experience working effectively and reporting to a Board; Experience working with a Board to develop, implement, monitor, and report on strategy;
- Resource industry experience across a sample of WSN designated business sectors, building partnerships and home-grown business opportunities;
- Successful track record of negotiations on behalf of Indigenous communities or organizations;
- Experience developing and leading broad communications and community engagement plans;
- Knowledge of financial management practices, including the ability to set and effectively manage and report to a Board on budgets;
- High-level understanding of relevant legislation and regulations that apply to industries/businesses in which NGC is involved in and anticipates future involvement in;
- Proven experience synthesizing complex business opportunities, setting clear priorities and expectations, and developing measurable action plans; and
- Proven ability to effectively recruit and manage a wide range of experts and talented employees; Experience effectively managing employee performance.
Candidate Skills and Attributes
A combination of the following skills and attributes will be important in NGC’s new CEO:
- Strong, demonstrated business and political acumen in both First Nations and non-First Nations venues;
- Demonstrated strategic planning and consensus-building skills;
- Enjoy an environment that values flexibility, honesty, and integrity and supports personal learning and development.
- Brings an energetic, action-oriented, entrepreneurial approach while maintaining an ability to exercise discretion, sensitivity and diplomacy when working with complex issues and diverse stakeholders; Has an ability to find a positive balance between assertiveness and diplomacy;
- Exceptional skills in time management, organization and prioritization;
- Has excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to quickly build authentic rapport with diverse audiences;
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills, as well as the ability to speak in dynamic public-facing meetings;
- Well-developed presentation and facilitation skills;
- Willingness and commitment to live and work in a small Northern community; and
- Ability to travel by car and by air on NGC business.
The successful candidate should be willing and able to live and work in the Nass Valley or in Terrace, BC.
In remote Northern British Columbia, the Nass Valley is the heart of Nisga`a territory and home to five communities, four of which are Nisga`a villages. The village names are Gitlaxt`aamiks (New Aiyansh), Gitwinksihlkw (Canyon City), Laxgalts`ap (Greenville), and Gingolx (Kincolith).
The Nass Valley is a place surrounded by valleys, mountains, creeks, waterfalls, aqua coloured pools, and an awe-inspiring lava bed that takes your breath away. This place holds many undiscovered wonders of nature and history. A dramatic landscape blended with the rich Nisga`a culture makes the Nass Valley a truly unique experience. Discover the splendor of the Nisga`a villages, cultural centres, traditional practices, and natural surroundings. Explore volcanic landscapes, uncover rare botanical wonders, and learn about the culture and legends of the Nisga`a people.
The Nass Valley is located north of Terrace in Northern British Columbia and its communities provide amenities that include grocery stores, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, gift shops, gas stations, and health services.
NGC will offer a competitive compensation package, including an attractive base salary, incentive compensation, and excellent benefits. For candidates who would require a relocation, NGC will cover reasonable costs. Further details will be discussed in a personal interview.
Qualified applicants will be invited to participate in a holistic evaluation process that includes validation of hereditary relationships, cultural knowledge, and community references. Candidates are invited to share a combination of a status card, community references (from candidates’ home community wherever possible) and/or other references that validate a clear and authentic connection to their Indigenous heritage and to their home community and Nation, wherever possible.
- A curriculum vitae or resume
- At least 2 supporting documents that validate citizenship or membership in an Indigenous Nation (as mentioned above) and,
- A letter of interest which includes a response to the following:
Please describe your personal connection to Indigenous communities and how you have developed successful business opportunities that align with Indigenous knowledge and cultural values.
Applications and inquiries should be directed to:
Laurie Sterritt • Partner
A first review of applications will occur during the week of April 10, 2023.
Leaders International specializes in the recruitment of Board of Directors, leadership succession and executive level positions. Our global network, Penrhyn International, is a world leader in the executive recruitment industry, with more than 47 offices in over 25 countries on 5 continents.