Aboriginal Leadership Initiative

Written 2010

First Nations communities in Canada face tremendous challenges such as high rates of unemployment, youth suicide and violence, inadequate living conditions, and poor health - despite overall affluence across the country.

But existing bilateral approaches have not sufficiently achieved the desired results.

“Ahp-cii-uk is really about the coming together of peoples, and it offers incredible opportunities for reconciliation and to see communities supported to lift themselves up.”
- Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, Hereditary Chief, Ahousaht First Nation

Given the interconnected nature of issues facing Aboriginal people, it is critical that interventions be holistic and systemic. One of the most promising ways to realize a better future for Canada’s Aboriginal people is to reweave a social fabric that has become frayed. To this end, the Aboriginal Leadership Initiative was created as a model of new ways for Canadian First Nations, government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to work together.

The effort focused on three First Nations on the Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where it is known as Ahp-Cii-Uk, meaning “going the right way” in the Nuu chah nulth language. The initiative advanced practical economic and social development priorities of participating communities while simultaneously building relationships of trust and understanding between First Nations and others. Synergos was a founding partner of the initiative, contributing our expertise in building trust and cross-sector collaboration.

One example of Ahp-Cii-Uk was efforts to build ecotourism in the Ahousaht First Nation. With support of new partners from BC Parks, the BC Transmission Corporation, Terasen Gas, and others, the Ahousaht First Nation was able to re-establish a path - called the Walk the Wildside Heritage Trail - through parts of its territory with cultural and historical significance.

Partners helped bring the community’s vision to life with financial support and know-how on marketing and tourism development. The Ahousahts commissioned a master carver to create a welcome figure, signifying the community’s openness to receiving visitors. The welcome figure, supported financially by the Donner Canadian Foundation and others, enabled young Ahousahts to apprentice with elders and artisans in the process, helping youth to reconnect with their traditional culture.

For More Information

Visit ahpciiuk.com.