By JP Gladu
When Canadian Business legend and philanthropist Murray Koffler led the initiative to create the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) almost 35 years ago he would have had no idea of the importance and success that CCAB would garner and exercise well into 21st Century Canada.
For decades corporate Canada had assumed that government was in control of the well-being of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Sadly the poverty, exclusion and abuse from institutions such as the Residential School System continued to fail Aboriginal peoples on all fronts from health to education, political inclusion to economics. Having witnessed the extreme poverty of Aboriginal peoples on the streets of Calgary Mr. Koffler set out to bring corporate Canada to the table in search of new ideas and solutions.
He gathered prominent attendees that included Maurice Strong, Paul Martin and Edward Bronfman to an historic think tank at his “Jokers Hill” farm. The results created CCAB as an important avenue to build skills and develop capacity for Aboriginal youth and adults while using the new organization to educate Canadian business about Aboriginal issues.
Jean Paul (JP) Gladu President and CEO of the CCAB since 2012 is a proud Anishinaabe from Thunder Bay and a member of the Sand Point First Nation located on the eastern shores of Lake Nipigon.
With a passion for his community, his culture and traditions Mr. Gladu brings the past, present and future to the national business table. Ensuring that his tenure with the CCAB directly reflects his commitment to economic reconciliation that fully supports Indigenous communities, no matter how small, to ensure they have access to the resources and opportunities needed to succeed.
Since 1982 CCAB has been bridging the gap between the mainstream corporate sector and the Aboriginal community. CCAB works to improve economic self-reliance of Aboriginal communities while assisting corporate businesses. Over the years successful programs have been developed to encourage business in Canada to learn how to successfully work with Aboriginal business.
One such program is the Progressive Aboriginal Relations program (PAR) a certification program that confirms corporate performance in Aboriginal relations at the Bronze, Silver or Gold level. Certified companies promote their level with a PAR logo signaling to communities that they are good business partners; great places to work and; committed to prosperity in Aboriginal communities.
PAR certification provides a high level of assurance to communities because the designation is supported by an independent, third party verification of company reports. The final company level is determined by a jury comprised of Aboriginal business people.
Since the program’s introduction in 2001, PAR remains the premier corporate social responsibility program with an emphasis on Aboriginal relations.
CCAB is truly about Aboriginal relations and the changing attitudes in Canada about Aboriginal peoples, their traditions, culture, leadership and business communities. Mr. Koffler by engaging the Canadian business establishment to step up was taking a vital first step toward Economic Reconciliation for Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
The core of economic reconciliation is supporting Indigenous communities, no matter how small, to ensure they have access to resources and opportunities to succeed. This is key to the Free and Prior Informed Consent of development projects which Canada is committed to under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). As well as ensuring Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses have business friendly environments to succeed in.
Proudly CCAB celebrates The Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame (ABHF) Life Time Achievement Award, the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award (that comes with a $10.000 cash prize), The Aboriginal Economic Development Corporation of the Year Award and the Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations. CCAB fully understands the importance of informing and creating new hero’s, new partnerships and equitable prosperity for Indigenous peoples in Canada today.