Case Study

Unifying Communities Through Shared Decision-making

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Matawa First Nations Management (MFNM) is a non-profit Tribal Council representing nine Indigenous communities in remote Northern Ontario.

These nine communities have been on a journey of working together in unity towards regional decision-making on essential matters concerning land, water, and resources. However, without an agreed-on approach to collective decision-making, Matawa-member communities had not unlocked their full potential as a unified group. This proved to be a barrier for communities, individually and collectively, who wished to move forward on land-based opportunities that would improve livelihoods and community conditions now and in the long term.

In 2018, together with MFNM, Coeuraj set out on a multi-year journey to find a way to reinforce and highlight the benefits of working together while celebrating the strengths of the individual communities, their unique identities, and their respective interests. Since then, the project has centred around building a decision-making framework and increasing Matawa-member communities’ capacity to work together on shared opportunities.

Coeuraj has facilitated large, in-person engagements and individual community visits, co-developed capacity-building approaches with community champions and worked across communities as they collaboratively structured a decision-making framework owned by them and in service of their people and traditions.

This work has been the foundation for a continued and growing relationship among the nine communities. The result has reinforced their commitment to unity, strengthened their connections, and solidified a path forward.

The difference has been in the approach. Our member communities have constantly been ‘advised’. For decades, people have been trying to tell us what to do. The difference with Coeuraj is that they are not advisors, they design the process that enables and empowers us to design our own journey, our way, respecting our people and our traditions.

—Kathy Brady, Matawa First Nations

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