Indian and Northern Affairs Canada — The New Horizon Farms Dilemma
(10 pages of text)
The director of Lands and Economic Development in the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) must make recommendations on how to handle challenges around a large farming company that leases land from First Nations communities in Western Canada. New Horizon Farms (NHF) has already leased over 180,000 acres from First Nations communities and plans to grow to one million acres. An immediate challenge is the leasing process whereby INAC must review and sign leases and receive lease payments, which are later turned over to the First Nations. The process slows the partnering process and the speed of cash flow to First Nations and many First Nations object to government control over their land on principle. However, without INAC involved, the leases are not legally enforceable, an essential factor for NHF and its public parent company. NHF provides leasing revenue but also training, employment, and shares in the company to the First Nations it partners with. On the surface it looks like a good opportunity, but it raises several questions for policy makers. Will NHF’s control of one million acres of First Nations land be seen as a form of economic colonialism? How does this kind of initiative fit with INAC’s and First Nations’ mandates to improve economic and social conditions among First Nations communities? How will the provinces and neighbouring communities perceive and react to the situation?
New Horizon Farms also needs to consider its long-term strategy. Will the operation meet its target of one million acres? What are the risks for the company? How should it approach the training issue now that funding has finished?
The main learning objectives for this case include:
- To examine the changing roles and relationships between public and private institutions, the impact of culture and history on decision making, and strategies for formulating new relationships among business, government, and First Nations.
- To consider possible solutions to a complex and difficult societal problem of improving the situation of Canada's First Nations and how potential solutions might be affected by the needs and expectations of different stakeholders.
- To examine the risks with innovative public/private business initiatives, and develop strategies to mitigate those risks.
- To improve the skills of managers in summarizing critical policy/business issues for discussion in a briefing note or presentation.
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Canada, Large, 2011
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