The executive director of the Gwaii Trust Society, Cliff Fregin, will soon leave the islands to begin working with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association.
Stepping away from administration and policy development responsibilities he has held with the trust since1995, Mr. Fregin will begin what he believes will be an “exciting and challenging next phase of my life” in Edmonton as the NACCA’s Chief Financial Officer.
The association is includes 51 aboriginal financial institutions, each with ita own independent capital base that allows them to lend money to aboriginal entrepreneurs, providing small business lending and developing business training in communities across the country.
“The majority of these associations survive on their interest earned and their goals are to assist in the creations of more businesses which in turn produces more jobs.”
Haida involvement in the NACCA is through Tri-Corp out of Prince Rupert which encompasses and works on behalf of the Haida, Gitksan, Nisgaa and Tsimshian tribes, all accessing NCCA funding which originally came from the feds. Most of these corporations now have been operating for ten years and now survive on their own.
Mr. Fregin’s family will remain on the Charlottes until personal challenges such as deciding on what to do with his home and settling down into the new job are met. He expects to be in Alberta for at least six months, with one of his initial tasks involving a head office move from Edmonton to Ottawa by the middle of next year.
Does this eventually mean sayonara to the Misty Islands? “Not a chance!” he says. “This is just the next stage of my life. I have no idea how long it will be but for sure I will be coming back. “This is my home. My mom and grandparents are from Old Massett. My youngest was born here and it has been wonderful watching my children grow up in this community. They are learning the Haida language and culture which has produced very positive effects on our family.”
Moving to a large mainland urban area may increase the number of amenities, he says, but nothing can match the quality of the interactions and friendships produced by a small close-knit community.
” I have gained many mentors here and working with our people and many other residents in all the different communities on the islands has been very positive and rewarding.”
Mr. Fregin is grateful to have been part of the Gwaii Trust, an unique process that has distributed more than $12.2 million in sponsorship of local project and especially proud of being involved in a stewardship that has shepherded the fund’s growth from $38 million to its present sum of $62 million.
One of the most gratifying results, he notes, has been the development of a partnership between Haida and non-Haida residents, working together to provide opportunities for all the communities, giving assistance in areas that would not normally get funding. “The partnership is special and hopefully it will stay (in place)” he says.
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