Smart Cities Challenge Final Proposal

Winners will see different levels of involvement from their community’s leadership and organizations, project teams, partners, and other stakeholders throughout the implementation of their projects. This dynamic is very complex, especially with multiple projects and common governance challenges. Effectively managing this dynamic can help you understand where everyone is best placed in terms of authority, decision-making, and accountability in the context of implementing your projects. This chapter confirms the roles and responsibilities of your partners and stakeholders and serves as a model for governing a diverse—and potentially new and non-traditional—team.

Provide a governance plan for the implementation phase, including:

  • Governance frameworks and strategies to oversee and manage projects, project risks, funds, and partners that are rigorous, transparent, effective, and provide value for money
  • Details about the partners and their role, capacity, and readiness
  • Evidence (i.e. letters, agreements, other forms of written understandings) and details about the partnerships, including their nature, terms, accountability structure, and financial arrangements
  • Approach to partnerships that retains community control over sensitive and personal data
  • Identification of risks and development of appropriate mitigation strategies
  • Other details, as required

Evaluation criteria

  • Plan is detailed, complete, feasible, and well-suited to achievement of outcomes
  • Plan, including partnerships, supports the implementation of projects
  • Risk strategy is thorough and adequately addresses key risks

Chapter 5 – Governance

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg have always governed ourselves in accordance with our traditional laws, customs, language, traditions, values, processes and structures. Over the years these have changed, mostly as a direct result of the impacts of colonization, where systems in direct contradiction of our cultural ways were imposed upon us. In response to centuries of culture and language loss and disconnection from our social and philosophical systems, we are committed to rebuild our contemporary governance systems that reflect our Nishnaabe culture.

Culture lies at the heart of governance. It forms the foundation and fosters the collectivism of a people through a shared sense of values, beliefs, meaning, knowledge systems, rules, purpose and vision. Through this shared culture, acquired over generations of our people, we are connected beyond the confines of our organization and the projects we create and implement. Our organization and project governance systems are an extension of and reflection of our Nishnaabe way of existing as individuals and as a collective.

The governance plan set out herein seeks to align our Nishnaabe cultural practices and beliefs with modern practices, to facilitate a process that supports the implementation of the project and increases the success of achieving our outcomes. The governance structure has been established under the authority of Chief and Council. The structure was carefully designed to ensure it effectively facilitates the successful implementation of the proposal and the attained of the respective outcomes. It is based on Biigtigong’s best practices and in alignment of its long-term vision in respect to governance.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project governance is the elements and strategies that make a project successful. It is based upon the tailored needs of the community. The governance framework and strategies for this project are tailored to the community, rigorous, transparent, and will deliver value for money. The project team will ensure that the governance framework is implemented throughout the project and adjusted if deemed necessary.

We are ultimately responsible to the members and residents of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, including our ancestors and the seven generations to come. The people are the foundation of our governance structures. We are building upon a strong sense of community and a commitment to the vision for our children. Our governance structures and engagement strategies facilitates and builds strong connections with our community. Our Smart Cities Governance Plan makes community involvement and engagement a priority. We will create new opportunities for their involvement and build upon the existing systems. We ensure structures are in place to include our community throughout the lifecycles of projects and our long-term strategies. We are accountable to our members and their involvement is critical to ensuring we achieve our outcomes.

As the formal elected leadership of Biigtigong, this governing body is ultimately responsible for the overall affairs of the First Nation. Council has established governance systems that provide the necessary support and parameters for effective project governance systems. Our political and administrative functions are clearly defined and separated. Elected leadership is responsible for strategy and providing the systems, laws, policies, and other resources, to support successful implementation of projects. The governance model adopted for the Smart Cities project follows, aligns and enhances Biigtigong’s Governance systems.

The Chief and Council through the authority of Biigtigong’s Constitution will establish an Executive Board to oversee the Smart Cities Proposal. Additionally, two committees will be set up to support the proposal and the attainment of the outcomes. Both committees will play an integral role in achieving our outcomes and in creating high levels of accountability and involvement of our community. The following provides a brief overview of these three entities.

This board has been mandated as the governing body to oversee the implementation of our Smart Cities proposal. They will provide strategic direction to ensure the proposal continuously meets the needs of the community and achieves the identified outcomes. The Board will deliberate, make decisions, advise, provide strategic oversight, and to serve as the primary “advocate” for all the Smart Cities initiatives.

The Board is also responsible for the key business issues associated with the project. This includes approving the budgetary strategy, monitoring risks, quality and timelines, making policy, defining outcomes and deliverables, assessing change requests.

The Board will oversee the activities of the Aadsookaanan Reconstruction Committee and the Clan Engagement Committee. Both Committees were established to mitigate potential risks and create new opportunities. The Board will supervise and work the Smart Cities Project Lead throughout the project.

The Board reports directly to the Chief and Council and is subject to the regulations set out in the Terms of Reference for the Board and the Regulations Governing Committees. The Board and Council will collectively innovate on improving the reporting systems, promoting transparency, accountability and stakeholder engagement.

Due to the strategic importance of the proposal to the future of the community, the Chief will sit as the representative of the elected leadership. The Board will also be comprised of our CEO, Education Director and two youth. To increase success and mitigate risks, our Board will also include experts from the following fields: Nishnaabemwin (Language), Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. We have five experts who have committed to sit on this Board.

This Committee will be part of the governance arm and will report directly to the SC Executive Board. Comprised of elders, traditional knowledge holders, and language carriers, youth and parents, this team will be responsible to assist in the reconstruction of our sacred stories, our Aadsookaanan.

Their primary role will be to provide guidance and direction to the technical and research group. They will have decision-making authority to approve the core aadsookaanan and forward the stories to the Immersion Team for video production. The Committee will also assist in mitigating risks that exist or may come to be. The primary risk management strategy includes engaging with the community and providing information and education.

The Committee will operate according to its Terms of Reference and Biigtigong’s Regulations Governing Committees. Following our cultural protocols governing elders and the transfer of knowledge is foundational to our governance plan.

Engagement with all of our stakeholders is a critical factor to achieving our outcomes. In order to achieve high levels of meaningful engagement, we will employ our traditional clan system for this purpose. Each clan will select 2 representatives to sit on the Clan Engagement Committee. Clan leaders are responsible to report directly back to their respective clans, following the protocols established by the clans. Clan leaders hold the responsibility for two-way communication and reporting. This system allows for diverse engagement and facilitates deeper discussions and collaboration.

Inside the structure of the clan system are protocols that speak to the roles and responsibilities of individuals and the clans. Accountability, disclosure and transparency are inherent to the system. It also addresses ethics, communication, and codes of behavior, decision-making methods and dispute resolution. From an organizational perspective, the Clan Engagement Committee will report directly to and work closely with the SC Executive Board. The team will operate according its Terms of Reference and Biigtigong’s Regulations Governing Committees.

We will utilize existing governance structures to support the implementation of our proposal.

Our governance model will facilitate linkages between the SC Executive Board and our Youth Council, via the Board’s two youth representatives. The Youth Council is an existing Committee that represents the interests of the youth and facilitates their involvement in the growth and development of their community. We will utilize this relationship to improve our connections with our youth and ensure we are meeting their needs.

The Education Committee is mandated as an advisory function in support of the Education Department. It is a primary means for parental involvement in education. We will utilize these resources, via the Education Director, to support the proposal’s implementation, specifically within the Education Department. This provides another link to the stakeholders and ensures alignment with the Education strategy.

The Finance and Audit Committee is responsible to review and make recommendations to Council on the financial administration matters of the Nation. The Finance and Audit Committee assists Council in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities for the financial reporting process, the system of Internal Control, the audit process, and the process for monitoring compliance with laws and regulations and the code of conduct.

The Executive Board will comply with the initiatives of the Finance and Audit Committee and the Director of Finance to ensure financial accountability and transparency. Biigtigong’s Financial and Administrative Policies and Procedures govern the financial and human resource management of the project.

Some of the Smart Cities projects fall under the mandate of existing Departments. These projects shall become the responsibility of various Departments, such as, Education and will be administered in accordance with the existing governance and management systems of the First Nation. There are institutionalized and established systems that define roles and responsibilities, personnel matters, finance, performance management and evaluation, dispute resolution, risk management, reporting responsibilities, lines of authority and lines of command.

Inside of this system is an established Senior Management Team comprised of all Department and Service Directors. This body acts as the central coordinating entity for the First Nation that facilitates a holistic approach. A member of this team will be appointed to the SC Executive Board to ensure continuity, alignment and accountability. This individual will also act as a liaison between the Senior Management Team and the Smart Cities Executive Board. Respective Directors will obtain direction and provide input via this process and take the necessary steps for implementation within their departments.

Our Education Department will be responsible for the implementation of the core components of our proposal, including the K-12 STEM program, Nishnaabemwin Immersion and the Meet-Up App. An organization review was conducted to determine the requirements for the integration of the new programs. Governance systems that define staffing requirements, organizational and reporting structures, roles and responsibilities, performance management, training and development, risk mitigation strategies, and financial requirements for the Smart Cities implementation are established. The education staff was involved throughout the entire review and development phase.

The implementation of the education components of the proposal will be under the direction and supervision of the Education Director. The Director will report on the activities and status of the projects to the Executive Board and the Project Lead. The reporting structure is designed to be flexible to allow for adaptive approaches to respond to changing needs. The Education Director will also provide updates and facilitate necessary action and support with the Senior Management Team.

This Department will be responsible for the implementation and management of our Youth-owned Student IT Business, the co-op placements and summer employment. Our team will work collectively with this department to create an innovative pathway for our high school students, providing an academic foundation supported by real-world work experiences. Our economic development department will build relationships with STEM based industries to assist in the co-op placements and summer employment. Our co-op program will be governed by the Ontario Ministry of Education standards and our own internal policies. Special considerations for individuals enrolled in the CompTIA A+ program will be built into our Summer Student Employment Policy, to support their path throughout high school.

As part of our governance structure we will create an inter-departmental program committee, comprised of front line staff that are directly responsible to deliver specific programs. This team will consist of the SC Project Coordinator, Immersion Lead, STEM Lead, Co-op Lead, Meet-up App Lead and the Economic Development Manager. This group will work to strengthen collaboration across the team and integration of projects. They will review activity reports, monitor progress and outcomes, discuss administrative concerns, identify training needs, coordinate project management, identify risks and solutions and create substantial working relationships. The Committee will report to the Education Director. The Education Direction will bring all appropriate matters to the attention of the Senior Management Team and/or Executive Board.

We will utilize our traditional governance principles, as set out in our Aadsookaanan, as embedded in our language and ceremonies, as practiced within our operations and commit to gaining a greater understanding of our traditional ways and establishing more effective and legitimate governance systems. Our principles support processes that are consensus oriented, participatory and inclusive, transparent, accountable, long-term considerations, responsive to change, flat and non-hierarchical, and based on relationships. We will adhere to the governance principles identified in Biigtigong’s Constitution, laws, policies, procedures, informal protocols and cultural practices.

Our cultural practices utilize a consensus-based decision-making model. As an approach to fostering collaboration, consensus-based decision-making provides every individual equal access and responsibility to the process. This model facilitates improved decisions due to the stakeholders claiming responsibility by providing input in keeping with the best interests of the seven generations to come. It fosters increased interpersonal connections and relationships, resulting in greater sense of cohesion and commitment to the goals and vision. Utilizing our cultural practices and embedding our values inside of our governance system enhances the project and its successful implementation.

Part of our decision-making model includes mechanisms to deal with conflicts and disputes. We utilize a restorative justice model as our dispute resolution process. Based on cultural values our systems aim to restore harmony, balance and build relationships. We will utilize Biigtigong’s processes to address potential conflicts with or amongst our stakeholders.

Human Resource management is coordinated by Biigtigong’s Finance and Administration Department. Policies and procedures are in place to govern hiring and recruiting, training and development, travel, honoraria, salary, compensation, performance appraisals, employee benefits, health and safety, contracts, confidentiality, code of ethics, conflict of interest, dispute resolution, employee relations and well-being. This centralized system promotes fairness, consistency, transparency and accountability. All staffing and awarding of contracts associated with the Smart Cities proposal will be subject to the existing policies of the First Nation.

Our culture acknowledges the world is in constant flux and change; we are in a perpetual state of responding to this change. The concepts of renewal and transformation are inherent to how we interact with the inter-connected world. These beliefs are reflected in our governance systems. We adopt a learning environment that fosters change and utilize iterative management practices to ensure on-going alignment between our outcomes and the needs of our stakeholders. We offer employee assistance programs to assist in change management. Additionally, our Social Services Team provides supports to assist individuals, families and teams, with any issues that arise as a result of change. We also rely on our cultural ceremonial practices to assist in our change management efforts.

Our goal is to create an organization culture where risk identification and management become part of everyday life. Although it is important to conduct a risk assessment at the onset of a project, it is equally important to ensure risk management activities are performed, recorded and monitored throughout the lifecycle of the project. Our risk management strategies aim to accomplish this.

For this project, we will utilize a framework that provides for a process for risk identification, risk analysis, risk response planning, monitoring, controlling and reporting. For each major risk that is to be mitigated or that is accepted, a course of action will be outlined for the event that the risk does materialize in order to minimize its impact. Monitoring and reporting mechanisms will be built into all levels of governance and project implementation. Ultimately, the risk management plan is the responsibility of the Executive Board.

Communication is the key to a successful project. Our communication plan identifies key stakeholder and avenue for the delivery of pertinent information. Information will be delivered to all stakeholders in a timely fashion. Our engagement plan provides more details on how we plan to build strong communication with our stakeholders.

The project team will continuously monitor the project against established timeline and metrics. This will ensure that the project is in accordance will budget and timeline and that deviations are remedied. Our internal systems of control are well defined and tested. We have made some adjustments to ensure our Smart Cities implementation is done so successfully.

The goals of our Smart Cities proposal are ambitious and require a collaborative approach to make them achievable. Partnership opportunities exist across many sectors and include individuals, businesses, education institutions, governments and community organizations. Partnerships are a strategic process and our approach to partnerships begins at home by creating a solid foundation that we can build upon. We want Smart Cities to live beyond the life of the proposal and become part of how Biigtigong exists.

The impacts of our proposal outcomes will create substantial change that extends past the individual students and into the social and economic fabric of the community. Preparing our children for the digital world also includes preparing our organizations and community. This is why our membership is best served by aligning our different departments and related organizations. These alliances require deep interpersonal connections and appropriate structures and systems in order to yield the highest benefits.

Our internal partnerships are living systems that evolve progressively in response to the changing environment and the needs of our membership. Building upon and utilizing our internal resources and developing our capacity are necessary to achieve long-term sustainability. Collaboration between our service departments and community owned organizations are critical to achieving success.

Our focus, the central point of everything, is our children and this is what brings us together and keeps us together. The elders always remind us that it is our responsibility to keep our children in the center of everything. Sharing a common vision and purpose is what binds successful partnerships. Our Smart Cities proposal is attached to and supports Biigtigong’s bigger vision of Nation building.

Our Smart Cities proposal development team, which consisted of two members of the Senior Management Team and the Chief, approached the proposal implementation phase as a collective effort of our entire team. The goals of the proposal align with the overall goals of the organization, making it easy to establish collaboration and project partnerships. We entered into collaboration agreements with our service departments. The purpose of these agreements is to demonstrate that the proposal is supported by the entire organization.

Our internal partnerships are governed by the structures, regulations, practices and historical relationships that exist within the organization. We have established and proven frameworks that we utilize for our projects. These frameworks address general project management requirements, such as, managing risks, finances and resources, quality assurance and performance management, human resource and capacity development, reporting and accountability and team development. Our implementation plan is build upon our assessment of our internal capacities, readiness and resources.

To ensure success, our implementation plan allocates specific tasks to respective departments who have a related mandate. For example, our Sustainable Development Department who is responsible for economic development, employment and training, will be responsible for the establishment of the high school reBOOT IT business, co-op placements and summer employment. While our education department will be responsible for the academic portions of the co-op high school program. Such partnerships allow us to extend the reach of our project goals and build the foundations for long-term sustainability.

The community retains control over sensitive and personal data. We already have established policies and systems that manage and control data collection. We do not want to re-invent systems but rather utilize existing resources and help make necessary improvements where we can.

The initial commitments from our service departments are identified in the collaboration agreements attached. These will be continuously reviewed, monitored and developed to ensure the best possible strategies are collectively in implemented to better serve our membership. Our Smart Cities proposal has provided another rallying point to collectively strategize in bringing together our efforts to innovate and make meaningful lasting change and improvements.

Two of our main external partnerships are with independent, but related entities of Biigtigong. Pic River Development Corporation is the Internet Service Provider in the community and will provide services for the off-ramping, uploading, downloading and backup storage of our videos at no cost. They also made a financial commitment to support the project implementation. Anishinabek Employment and Training Services is an entity that provides employment support and training services on behalf of 9 First Nations. A three-year financial contribution has been made to assist in the development of the CompTIA A+ and reBOOT co-op education program and the summer student employment portion. Biigtigong has existing agreements with both entities that defines the relationship, mandate, governance structures and other areas. The risks associated with these partnerships are extremely low and mitigation strategies to address the risks are already in place.

Biigtigong has many business partners and professional relationships. Part of our business strategy is to develop mutually beneficial partnerships that create value. We seek to be a ‘partner of choice’ and have a history of successful partnerships. Letters of support from some of our business partners are attached to this proposal. We have not entered into any formal partnership agreements but we will explore the options when needed. At which time we will enter into formal agreements that define the details of the partnership.

Our Smart Cities team has enlisted the help of two organizations who bring value to achieving our set outcomes. Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with ICTC and reBOOT Canada and provide the details of the partnership. Both entities are assisting us with the implementation of our K-12 STEM programs. Our projects share common visions and provide services that complement each other and provide a good fit. We have developed excellent working relationships and have created a common path and are equally excited to embark on our journey together.

23 First Nations are part of an education self-government agreement with Canada and Ontario, forming the Anishinabek Education System. The participating First Nations under the Anishinabek Education System will enact education laws that govern the Anishinabek Education System and the delivery of programs and services. Each participating First Nation has law-making power and authority over education from JK to Grade 12 on reserve. Participating First Nations will also establish and maintain system-wide education standards that support the transfer of Anishinabek students between the Anishinabek Education System schools and the provincial education system schools.

AES is in its development stage and in the process of getting established and operational. The Board has provided a letter of support of our proposal and we will explore options on how our proposal implementation can assist the other 22 First Nations. AES is an opportunity for First Nations to collectively work together to address the education needs of our children. We expect that as AES develops that we will create innovative approaches to improving the lives of our children.