Chief Edward (Ted) Williams of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation is on the show this week. The home of the popular and successful "Casino Rama" development, Chief Williams speaks to dealing with COVID-19, and plans for reopening the community with a large retail centre. Having a deep history in lands related work dating back to the early 1970s, he says the land code was part of community planning, and Rama was one of the early adopters to sign onto the Framework on First Nation Land Management from the beginning. Rama has had a history of exploring opportunities and moving quickly and believes communities should take this step towards land management because, "its our land, its our voice and its our control."
:34 Richard welcomes Chief Ted Williams to the podcast.
:52 Chief outlines his community's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Band got out in front of this issue. The famous Rama Casino has been closed. Despite its economic importance, it will not open until the time is right. Usually two to three million visitors per year!
2:35 They handled Covid planning in earnest about ten days before it happened.
3:27 Chief has been involved with land for more than 40 years. They has surrendered some land for an industrial park in the early 80s and had clients. They won bid for Casino Rama in 1974, and wanted to place it on the waterfront but the community said no. Its current location was supposed to be temporary. Casino open now for 25 years and is a huge employer and revenue generator. Economic development has always been a priority.
6:24 Rama became one of the first signatories to the framework agreement in the mid-90s.
6:56 What does 'speed of business' mean to him? A good example is cannabis. Land was designated commercial earlier and retail operation opened quickly.
8:23 Great to be able to pick up the phone and deal quickly. Cutting out Ottawa for approvals around land use is ideal because no one knows about the land more than the community.
9:15 36,000 square foot retail building is open to leasing arrangements and lots of inquiries locally and national companies who want to locate at Rama. Building will be filled before Christmas. Lots of jobs and feeding other Band businesses, including two Tim Hortons outlets, the only Nation in Canada having two.
11:18 Chief describes the process of developing land and the role of council, staff and land code committee. Based on community's strategic planning and local input. No more waiting for Indian Affairs.
13:15 Band has settled two treaty negotiations and other items are under discussion that could involve further development. Possible land purchases and additions to reserve.
14:44 Resource Centre staff were fabulous in development of a land code promotion strategy for on and off-reserve members (mentions Cassandra in particular). Very thorough campaign. with in-person, web, digital, mail and more venues for sharing information. It led to a Yes vote of 91%.
18:20 Chief Williams shares his personal journey as it relates to colonization and the negative impact of an incomplete Canadian history. Being told what they should earn, where they should live, where to get spiritual needs met. Decolonization is about learning who you really are, where you come from and your own history. There is much work to be done .
22:20 Has land code helped with decolonization? Yes, land is our Mother Earth and we need to look after it. It helps create pride and a feeling of identity. We choose. We can compete in the Canadian mosaic.
24:30 What is his advice to other communities contemplating signing on to the framework agreement? You should be in control!
25:25. Chief expresses his community's grief and sorrow over the beautiful lost souls no