April 3, 2024

Emchayiik Robert J. Dennis Sr., Iskum Investments Chair

BRITISH COLUMBIAIskum Investments (Iskum) is a Consortium of over 20 First Nations from across Vancouver Island and the B.C. coast, that have come together in a unified modern business partnership to make economic reconciliation work for Nations, workers and communities.

Iskum’s focus is to meaningfully advance economic reconciliation and improve the B.C. business environment.  By coming together as one, Iskum will pursue meaningful large scale business opportunities with a goal to deliver generational shared prosperity for everyone’s benefit.

“Iskum Investments is First Nations coming together to make economic reconciliation work for everyone,” said Emchayilk Robert Dennis Sr., Iskum Investments Chair. “For the past 150 years, we watched others decide what is best for our people, lands, waters, forests and resources. Today, we embark on a new path – First Nations, business, communities and governments working together to grow an inclusive economy – including good jobs and better managed forests – and to create value that stays in B.C., for the benefit of our Nations, our wider communities, British Columbians, and all Canadians.”

Iskum’s mandate is to explore economic opportunities that will create new self-generated revenues and support certainty for continued investment in B.C. Iskum’s leadership is made up of First Nations Chiefs and economic development experts with many decades of experience – a skilled, committed group focused on being meaningful participants in a sustainable economy and re-invigorating investment in coastal value-added, forest product manufacturing and beyond.

“Iskum Investments’ ground-breaking partnership aims to advance economic reconciliation – taking hold of our future and making our own decisions, to improve the lives of our Nations’ citizens and members now and for future generations,” said Hegus John Hackett, Chief, Tla’amin Nation / ɬəʔamɛn Nation. “We know that there are opportunities that can only be realized by working together through a unified voice with shared values. It is for these reasons that Iskum was formed.”

Iskum is collaborating to support First Nations’ decision-making authority, self-determination, and to advance economic independence – aligned with the implementation of the Government of Canada’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP) and the Government of British Columbia’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DIRPA).

“A shared philosophy amongst many coastal First Nations is that Everything is Connected, or ‘hišuk ma c̕awak’ in my Nation’s Nuu-chah-nulth language,” said ʔu-ma-qak-takƛ Brandy Lauder, Chief Councillor, Hupacasath First Nation. “It is our responsibility to find balance between environmental stewardship and economic development. We know by working together to build on the initiative of our individual Nations, we can find the correct balance of these priorities.”

“As First Nations decision-makers and leaders, it is our responsibility to help find positive and productive solutions and be proactive in our efforts to solve the complex problems that society faces,” said waamiiš Ken Watts, Chief Councillor, Tseshaht First Nation. “Through the shared values of our Consortium, it is our goal to demonstrate how business can work with First Nations and facilitate this change with new ways of thinking. Our Nations have made a commitment to bring our paddles into the same canoe, together paddling as one as we move forward to exploratory opportunities.”

Iskum is currently seeking business opportunities with partners and leaders who recognise the need to step out of their comfort zone and think differently about our future.

“On behalf of its member Nations, Iskum is calling on the business world to support First Nations-led opportunities that both heal our lands and benefit the economy,” said Dallas Smith, President, Na̲nwak̲olas Council. “Through a Nation-to-Nation Protocol Agreement, Iskum’s member Nations have committed to working together to find solutions to support industry revitalization, recognizing the need to attract investment. It is our goal to continue to build on our successes as individual First Nations in managing and acquiring B.C. forest tenures, to also become meaningful and substantial participants in all aspects of the value-added sector.”


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