Heiltsuk Economic Development Corporation: Balancing Politics, Business, and Culture
(10 pages of text)
In March 2013, the chief executive development officer of the Heiltsuk Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) was preparing a report on the findings and recommendations of the organization’s seven-year history. The HEDC, the economic development arm of the Heiltsuk Nation, was not meeting its goals. The HEDC structure was based on the theory that economic development success in Aboriginal communities required a separation of business from political influence. Unfortunately, the HEDC had yielded little economic success to date. Further, it was not clear whether it had effectively brought about the desired separation of economics from politics. Similar concerns were expressed by the chief councilor of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, the political governance structure responsible for administering, governing, and setting policy for the Heiltsuk Nation. There was hope that the report would bring clarity to what had gone wrong in the development process under the HEDC. Was the governance structure appropriate for the task the HEDC was supposed to fulfill, or were the roles and responsibilities not clearly defined? What was causing the myriad of communication issues? What should be done?
This case can be used by students at the undergraduate or graduate level. The case is appropriate for courses that cover topics such as policy, political and corporate governance, community change and development, community economic development, and organizational development. After completion of this case, students will be able to
- understand the context, both historical and current, that the Heiltsuk find themselves in;
- identify the problems the Heiltsuk faced with the development of the HEDC;
- understand why and how these problems arose; and
- identify how these challenges can be addressed.
Canada, Small, 2013
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