First Nations Knock on China's Door
“Our lands are full of oil, full of diamonds, full of iron ore and ripe for responsible and sustainable development, but there is a need for infrastructure, capital investment and value-added expertise. We are here to tell China that Aboriginal Canada is open for business,” said Calvin Helin, president of the Native Investment & Trade Association (NITA) which organized the trip with RCI Capital Group Inc.
Helin, a member of the Lax Kw’alaams Band of the Tsimshian Nation, wore the traditional red and black colours of his nation on a robe decorated with his family’s crest at all official meetings with Chinese government and business leaders. Chinese business leaders and officials regarded highly the fact that Aboriginal Canadians displayed their culture and spirituality at all business discussions and social gatherings.
Grand Chief Morris Shannacappo, a new generation of leadership representing 36 indigenous communities from southern Manitoba, opened each presentation with an Eagle Feather and a somber traditional prayer. The prayer - recited in his native language - garnered great interest and respect from the Chinese leaders in attendance.
“We have the utmost respect for ancient Chinese culture and civilization and we were so pleased that our sincere respect was genuinely reciprocated,” said Grand Chief Shannacappo.
The trade mission featured the signing of several bilateral agreements, including one with the Provincial government of Shaanxi province. Its governor designated the Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Economic and Technical Cooperation to sign a memorandum of understanding with NITA and RCI. The agreement is meant for the sides “to explore mutually beneficial cooperation and investment opportunities of bettering the living standards of their respective populations and for the purpose of increasing economic cooperation, cultural understanding, mutual respect and friendships between the parties, their respective peoples and communities on various levels.”
In Xi’an a letter of intent was signed between the government of Shaanxi Province and the Squamish Nation. They would like Terrasphere Systems, an agriculture production technology company, to mass produce 100 percent organic fruits and vegetables in China year round.
The delegation participated at the 30th Anniversary meetings of Canada-China Business Council and a parallel mission by four Canadian premiers, the China Mining Expo and numerous private sector and government meetings arranged by RCI. They were met by Canadian Ambassador Robert Wright and officials at the Embassy of Canada on November 12th. The mission culminated in a private dinner reception at the historic Diaoyutai State Guest House Compound in Beijing.
Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) President Mr. Chen Haosu hosted the delegation along with a cross section of high-level Chinese government and corporate leaders. Chen, Chinese Minister of Foreign Relations, offered to sponsor a major Aboriginal business and cultural delegation to follow-up in the New Year. The Canadian delegation invited Chen to organize a Chinese business delegation to come to meet Aboriginals across Canada in mid 2009.
“As a result of this historic journey I believe the Chinese understand us much better and respect our culture. The feeling is mutual. I have been made to feel at home here and feel a special kinship that transcends generations,” said Chief Morley Googoo of Nova Scotia’s Waycobah First Nation.
The ground-breaking Aboriginal trade mission to China, an economic superpower, was a huge success. “We achieved the goals we set for the trade mission and much, much more,” said RCI’s Renaissance Capital Inc. President Sylvain Payette. “I believe when you go out of your way to meet people and foster goodwill, mutually beneficial things happen.”