In Canada, there have been a lot of set backs when it comes to the wellbeing of Aboriginal communities. It appears to be a moving target. For example, last week, more tragic news emerged of another Aboriginal youth who was under the care of the Ministry of Child and Families and died as a result of the lack of capacity to do just that. I live in New Zealand and keeping track of what’s happening at home is emotionally challenging mostly because it seems to be one step forward and two steps back, forever seeing the frayed rope ends unraveling ahead while frantically tying them up at the bottom, or the other way around, tying them up as they fray behind.
Nonetheless, uplifting advances of unprecedented Indigenous achievement are also on the horizon. The latest is the appointment of Carol Anne Hilton, CEO of Transformation International to the Finance Minister, Bill Morneau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth and seeing the headlines say, “Hesquiaht woman appointed Senior Advisor to federal Finance Minister”. This appointment is a result of the newest Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau making Aboriginal issues a priority, and just today, the Federal budget 2016 released shows $8.4 billion worth of spending commitments to Aboriginal communities and promise of a new fiscal relationship with First Nations.
Naturally, what I find most exciting about Carol Anne’s appointment though, is the pathway forward that aligns with my doctoral research and the space that is created for economic philosophy from within Aboriginal worldviews in a federal context. The article states that the appointment is to enhance:
…understanding and exploring the Indigenous ways of being, the contrasts with modern economics and traditional systems and outlining characteristics of emerging ecological business models.
…economic reconciliation between first nations and corporations.
Carol Anne created the hashtag, #Indigenomics on Twitter several years ago, which she explained to me was a conscious claim to, and creation of space for the emerging knowledge, activity and promotion of all things related to Indigenous economics.
Indigenomics examines the historical and current Canadian context of Indigenous relations in regards to economic thought. It highlights the shifting influence and position of First Nations people in the emerging new economy…examine place-based values while honouring the powerful thinking of Indigenous wisdom in the context of local economics, relationship building and humanity.
Not First Nations economics, not Aboriginal economics, but Indigenous economics. As I follow Carol Anne’s tweets and updates from her business co-owned by Anjil Hunt, the networks they nurture not only in Canada, but globally are extensive and lively. What is hard to miss is the simultaneous attention to high vibration around global Indigenous networks through conferences and social media and the reciprocal exchange of ideas that transcend national boundaries, while at the same time, paying close attention to the very real and potent exchange of ideas locally and within Indigenous communities.
Bob Hodge is a professor at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and writes, “…traditional Indigenous societies are masters of network thinking…” and argues that art is a means in which Aboriginal networks can be found as codified representations of “local configurations of a larger pattern, representing intense commitment to a local space and global awareness.” (2014) In addition to this recognition of the spatial component to Indigenous network traditions, temporal conditions are also important to consider, especially to fully understand when slow networks are just as important as fast networks.
Anyone who has attended a community meeting will have seen this difference, and for Aboriginal communities, the slow network is not a sign of delayed development; rather, it indicates the importance of ancient values that say cohesion and communication within the network are just as important as the work and outcomes of the network. So while the fast pace of #Indigenomics appears to move at the speed of light online, behind the hashtag are real conversations, real change makers, people working together to keep the network alive, and most importantly, the spread of new ideas that will be the seeds of change for a future of Indigenous wellbeing founded in Indigenous worldviews.
Underlying values of the network society we live in rely on the threads of connectedness, yet the tragic news of last week indicate that not everyone is connected to this network. I am not referring to strictly online networks, but the invisible ties that connect us to each other and allow us to see each other in the world. It is my belief that the value of networks and #Indigenomics represent an opportunity to expand an ethic of care beyond tribal, national and state boundaries, but also transcend the limits of what can be achieved in online spaces. Government money helps, but we can strengthen #Indigenomics by expanding the network to honour those who are vulnerable, stand them up and grow the economy through their gifts. A mentor of mine said, “If you don’t recognise people, and stand them up, in a sense honour who they are, and what they have to offer in our community, then we won’t know how that person can contribute.” #Indigenomics is about honouring, connecting, and contribution which moves both slow and fast depending on where the network is needed.
Hodge, B. (2014). Sorry, the Network Society has already been invented: Why management education needs Indigenous input. In R. Westwood, G. Jack, F. R. Khan & M. Frenkel (Eds.), Core-periphery relations and Organisation Studies (pp. 204-222). Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.