Monday, October 29, 2012

The Roman Empire. Joss Weedon's "Firefly". Larry King's last marriage. And this, the "Our Times" blog.

Truly, all good things come to an end. But sometimes, if you're lucky...what comes next is even better.

Please click here to be re-directed to the New and Improved Blog and Website.

Thank you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Memories of Senator George McGovern

From the desk of Greg Smith...

The recent passing of US Senator and former Presidential candidate George McGovern brought back personal memories from 1968, when I got to know him and his family and worked on his campaign in South Dakota. At the time I was a 20 year old university student from London, Ontario. 

My friend, Ian and I were crossing the US in a Volkswagen beetle after final exams in May. Our intention was to find work on the west coast somewhere, but we inadvertently fell into jobs on the Robert F Kennedy Presidential campaign in the South Dakota primary. We found ourselves going from broke and sleeping in a tent to being put up in a hotel and being paid a regular salary ($5.00 per day plus meals!) to organize door to door canvassing. We met Ethel Kennedy and singer Andy Williams when their Lear Jet arrived for a campaign stop, and one memorable day I drove Ted Kennedy to Lead and Deadwood to make a couple of speeches and to visit the saloon where Wild Bill Hickock was shot.

One of the people we got to know well was a young political mover and shaker named Jim Abourezk, who later went on to become a Congressman and US Senator, and was a key go-between during the standoff between the FBI and American Indian protesters at the siege of Wounded Knee. Jim told us one day that the local Senator, George McGovern, had heard about the two Canadians working on the Kennedy campaign, and wanted to meet us. We had never heard of him, but said “sure”, and a breakfast was arranged at the hotel restaurant for a couple of days ahead. 

That evening Jim, Ian, I and a few other campaign workers went to a local Pow-wow to watch hoop dancers, drummers and other traditional Native American activities, and bumped into Senator McGovern, but didn’t really get a chance to speak with him because of the crowds and noise. However, we did turn up at the agreed time for breakfast, and spent an hour and a half over blueberry waffles, getting to know each other. He was a very nice, intelligent, distinguished and likeable man, who seemed fascinated by how two young Canadians ended up working on the local Kennedy campaign. At the time I don’t think we quite appreciated the importance of him being a Senator, or the full qualities and potential of George McGovern, but we liked him and he liked us, and we would get to know him better over the next couple of years.

On June 5, 1968 Robert Kennedy had won in South Dakota, and we were gathered with many others at Jim’s house to watch the results from California, when he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. Among other things, this obviously ended the campaign, and so Ian and I eventually moved on to Denver, Colorado, where we found jobs to pay the rent and buy food (I sold used cars). We had only been there a couple of weeks, when we received a call from Jim saying that McGovern wanted us to come back to South Dakota to work on his Senate re-election campaign. I think it paid $50 per week, but we didn’t care about the money - we jumped at the opportunity.

Two days later we were back in Rapid City, among friends, living with Jim and his family, and working for George McGovern. We helped to organize the canvassing and took part in many other campaign tasks. Through working for McGovern in a relatively small community, we got to know him and his family pretty well, and grew very fond of him and his wife Eleanor. At one point, when their daughter Terry was charged with possession of marijuana, Ian and I sat with George and Eleanor in Court to provide support. Tragically, Terry died a few years later as a result of substance abuse.

One day, Jim, Ian and I were walking along the street in downtown Rapid City when George McGovern approached us from the opposite direction. He stopped to chat, and after a few minutes of campaign talk, asked us what we thought of him making a run for President. His plan was to try to pick up the Kennedy delegates at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in August. Of course, we all thought it was a great idea. “Don’t tell anyone”, he said, “I haven’t even told Eleanor yet”.

We continued working for McGovern for the next few weeks and as plans firmed up for him to start a run for President, we were asked to go to the Democratic Convention in Chicago in August to work on the floor for him, helping to round up delegates, and with communications. I ended up not being able to go for personal reasons but Ian did, and so was part of the famously violent 1968 Chicago convention. 

McGovern failed to pick up enough support, and didn’t become the nominee that year, though he was re-elected to the Senate. We visited him a year later at his office in Washington, where he welcomed us and showed us around, and we were impressed by a signed photo of him with JFK on his office wall. Of course he did become the Democratic nominee in 1972, but unfortunately was defeated conclusively by Richard Nixon, who won 48 of the 50 states - George McGovern didn’t even win his home state of South Dakota. Like many others, I have often wondered how things might have been if such an honorable, decent and progressive man had become President.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's getting cold out there, and ....

Old friends of this blog will know about the long connection between Consilium and the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, an association that's lasted three decades . We're proud of our involvement back in the very first days of IBC, and we're honoured to support their most recent and ambitious venture - the establishment of a Media Arts Centre in the heart of Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital.  The Centre will serve as a focus for the creativity of filmmakers, video producers and new media artists continuing IBC's three decade history of translating Inuit culture into video.

You can help in two ways.

1) Donate! Donations can be made on the campaign website at /  or call toll-free 1(800)267-8327 ext. 231 for more information.

2) Vote! IBC's new media center is now listed on the Aviva Community fund site, where voters can choose from a range of community projects. You can vote once a day for the next two weeks. Here's where to vote:

Do it now - and become a part of Canadian media history. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Aarluk to Conduct 2012 Inuit Firm Registry Survey

Aarluk Consulting Inc. has been contracted by Atuqtuarvik Corporation to conduct its 2012 Inuit Firm Registry Survey. Atuqtuarvik, an Inuit-owned investment company, was established to help develop the Nunavut economy by providing loans and equity investments to Inuit-owned businesses for start-up, expansion and acquisition. With the firm belief that economic growth in Nunavut is vital to improving the quality of life for all Nunavummiut, Atuqtuarvik has been conducting a survey of Inuit businesses registered in Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.'s Inuit Firm Registry Database every four years since 2004.

The surveys help to update the profile of registered Inuit businesses and to gain a more current understanding of their financial requirements and support needs. The results of these surveys also assist organizations involved in economic development in Nunavut with program development and help them to anticipate the capital needs of Inuit businesses over the next five years. Aarluk completed both previous Inuit Firm Registry surveys for Atuqtuarvik, first in 2004 and again in 2008.

The Aarluk project team includes Christian Cloutier who will be Project Manager and Research Consultant, Greg Smith as Senior Advisor, and Cindy Rennie as a Research Consultant providing support to stakeholders in Inuktitut. If you are an Inuit firm, stay tuned for more details on the 2012 Survey for your chance to win a $500 cash prize!

Friday, October 19, 2012

This week in the Consilium, Aarluk, Stonecircle (CSA) offices we have two birthdays, from two different companies. Jennifer Bradshaw, the Office Administrator at Consilium, celebrated her birthday yesterday, October 18th. If you know Jennifer, you know that she is a big fan of comedy. To steal a quote from Bob Hope and partially take a shot at her because she is older than me “You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake,” BAZINGA! I, along with everyone else in the office, would like to wish Jennifer a very Happy Birthday!

The second birthday in the CSA office belongs to Stonecircle Researcher Kory Goulais. It is his birthday today, October 19th. Kory, who enjoys his statistics, embraces a quote by Father Larry Lorenzoni that states “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” Kory adds that it all leads to more time on the golf course or baseball diamond. 

Happy Birthday to both Kory and Jennifer!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Was That The Sound of Something Hitting a Fan?

"Hello, this is Joanna from the CBC. I wonder if you could comment on this report that was just released from the Auditor General's Office..."

"May I speak to the senior manager, please? Oh, hi. This is Constable Johnstone from the RCMP...."

"Hey, listen, I'm not sure, but I think those firetrucks were heading towards the new housing units we just opened..."


And then you woke up. Thank goodness. That phone call in the middle of the night was just a really, REALLY bad dream.

But what happens next time - when it's for real?

Even the best run organization will eventually have to deal with a crisis. It may be an unfortunate document leak, an inaccurate news report, or an unexpected government announcement that requires an immediate response. Whatever the case, at some point you'll have to get a message out, at short notice, regarding an unforeseen event or issue.

Every crisis is different, of course (that's what makes it a crisis!). But there a number of steps you can take to manage communication under pressure to ensure that the right messages are getting to the right people.  Here are a few proven tips to help you through your emergency.

1) Take a tip from the Boy Scouts, and BE PREPARED.

Most folks don't try to build a storm cellar during a hurricane: they do it ahead of time. So think ahead. Have a crisis communication plan and policy in place, and ensure that ALL key players are briefed on their roles and responsibilities in an emergency. That must include front line staff who'll be answering inquiries; anyone who will be required to speak on behalf of the organization; and the people who manage your own internal and external communication, including your press releases, website, twitter feed and social media pages.

2) Safety First.

Some emergencies involve an actual, physical threat; these can include fires, health emergencies, or critical incidents of violence.  Your first priority in any crisis of this nature is to ensure the security and well being of everyone concerned. If a critical incident occurs, your immediate concern is to provide information to protect safety. Use your media to communicate the nature, scope and scale of the threat, and provide critical information on what people need to do to avoid harm, sources of assistance, and updates on the threat.

3) Know who's in charge. 

Your crisis plan must identify one specific senior manager as communications coordinator, with executive authority to make decisions on communications when an emergency occurs. This may be your CEO, Executive Director, or Director of Communications. This person is not necessarily the spokesperson who will talk to media and the public, although they will brief the spokesperson: the coordinator's job is to determine what action is required, and oversee all communications matters relating to the issue or event.

4) Mobilize the team

The Communications Coordinator should organize an immediate meeting/teleconference of affected managers in order to share information, agree on immediate needs, agree on key information, messaging and spokespersons, and assign follow-up responsibilities. At that initial meeting, the team should:
  • Agree on routing instructions for all front line staff (reception, administration, and others like to receive inquiries). These will specify where callers can seek further information, and direct inquiries for further information or media interview to the appropriate parties;
  • Brainstorm Q and A’s for mandated spokespersons, providing recommended responses to all anticipated questions (and especially hostile ones);
  • Agree on a primary online data source (website, facebook page and twitter feed) for rapid information feed
  • Assign responsibility for media monitoring
  • Identify any technical or specialized expertise that may be required to assist with messaging, including legal resource personnel if necessary

5) Speak with one voice. 

 It's critical to appoint ONE person to speak on behalf of the organization. Again, this may be the communications coordinator, or another designated spokesperson with good media and presentation skills - your CEO, the mayor, or the Chief. The Communications Coordinator should ensure that the spokesperson is constantly kept up to date with the latest information and messaging.

It's just as important to make sure that other are NOT speaking on behalf of the organization. On some controversial stories, journalists will often seek out multiple contacts with a board or a company, hoping to get additional information or a juicy, dissenting point of view. Ensure everyone on your staff and board know that ALL external queries are to be directed to the Communications coordinator for the duration of the crisis, and circulate an internal memo to that effect.

6) Become the preferred source.

The best way to control the messaging is to be the place that everyone comes to for information on the issue/event.
  • Make sure that the information provided is accurate, timely, and consistent in all media and from all spokespersons.
  • Update the information frequently, but don't sacrifice accuracy. 
  • Don't rely on radio and TV journalists to tell your story: use all media that your audiences can access. Facebook, blog sites or a twitter feed are great for getting critical information to a wide audience quickly. 
7) Remember your internal audience

During a crisis we tend to focus on the audiences outside the organization - media, the general public, other organizations. It's just as important to keep everyone inside the organization informed about what's happening. It's a good idea to prepare and circulate a daily, in house briefing sheet for Board members, managers and staff, including:
  • Incident or issue description
  • Action being taken
  • Key messages
  • Authorized spokespersons and their contact information, and a reminder that no unauthorized personnel should consent to interview or issue statement 
8) And because it's worth repeating....Be Prepared!

Having the policy and procedures in place is a great first step. But people have to know (a) that it exists, and (b) how to do what it says they're supposed to do. Some tips:
  • Develop your policy and procedure in consultation with staff, including the front line administration staff. You'll increase awareness of the policy, build buy-in, and capture some details you might not otherwise have thought of. 
  • Hold a briefing session to review the completed policy and procedures with all staff.
  • Add relevant crisis management responsibilities to all affected job descriptions. 
  • Ensure that crisis management procedures are covered during staff and board orientation sessions.
  • Provide training to senior staff, board members, and anyone else likely to be called on to speak on behalf of the organization, to ensure they can communicate comfortably in high pressure situations.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Developing Sanikiluaq’s Economy – Dispatches from the Field

As noted in a recent blog, our regular readers will recall that David Boult, our associate with the longest relationship with the Consilium Consulting Group (“Partner”, ahem, adds Mr. Boult), has a particular affection for conducting economic development plans for communities across Nunavut. Fresh from his beluga-spotting trip to Resolute Bay in August, our dedicated associate soon found himself on his way to the Florida of Nunavut otherwise known as Sanikiluaq (see photo – not exactly as shown). 

The community is located in the Belcher Islands north of James Bay in Hudson Bay. This collection of low lying islands hosts a variety of wildlife including large populations of eider ducks and a healthy herd of reindeer. These reindeer are the descendants of a herd that was introduced to the islands decades ago to provide an important food supply for the community. 

As is typical of many Nunavut communities, David was greeted graciously by the Senior Administrative Officer André Larabie, the Economic Development Officer (EDO) Carroll Macintyre, and consultant and former EDO Daryl Dibblee. The group provided key direction and advice as to specific items in the economic development plan including the establishment of a community development corporation to help stimulate economic activity in Sanikiluaq. After a successful presentation to the Hamlet Council, David managed to enjoy a good hike around the land surrounding the community finding a number of interesting stones, berries and great views.

Upon his return to the hotel, he was presented with his bill which nearly knocked our well-travelled consultant out of his chair - $275 a night! David’s response? “Well at least they didn’t charge me for my roommate, and luckily I was sitting in a low chair”.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Nunavut Tradeshow

From September 25-27, the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce (BRCC) hosted the 21st annual Nunavut Trade Show and Conference in Iqaluit at the Arctic Winter Games Complex. The show was bustling as usual, with a number of people stopping by the Aarluk booth, to talk business or to just say "hi". We were happy to see many familiar faces as well as meet new people! In addition, Aarluk delivered some of the conference sessions that were being held, including a presentation by Aarluk General Manager Jimmy Jacquard, called “The Virtual Office – Running your Business from a Distance.” This presentation examined everything from online banking to dealing with payroll issues to storing and managing files and documents online, all intended for an audience of Baffin businesses who may need to, at times, run their businesses from a distance.

Below, you can see Jimmy at work, and the lucky winner of the Aarluk booth draw, Adam Larkin, who won a necklace made by local artist Matt Nuqingaq. Matt also provided Aarluk with a polar bear claw necklace, which Aarluk donated to BRCC to include at the annual fundraising silent auction, held at the closing gala dinner. The auction raises funds for a wide variety of local charities and organizations each year, which this year included groups such as Reach, the local judo club, and Skills Nunavut, among others.
Aarluk would like to thank all of the BRCC staff, including Executive Director Chris West, Office Manager Lisa McGrath and Events Manager Debbie Purvis among others for their help during the tradeshow in ensuring everything ran smoothly. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next one!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Roll of the Dice

Last week, Stonecircle’s Kory Goulais made the long trek to Orillia, Ontario (casino Rama to be exact) to partake in the 2nd annual Ontario First Nations Economic Developers Association conference. Now, I know what you are thinking: “Isn’t that they place where they deal excitement, big time?” To answer your question, yes, it is. Although from September 25 – 27th, it was excitement of a different variety.

The only table that Kory hit while he was in Orillia was his booth table. Taking the gamble that meeting various economic development officers throughout Ontario would lead to some form of work for Stonecircle.

He did, however, deal an abundance of cards, brochures, pens, bags and information out to the various economic development officers from across Ontario. All the while gathering “tells” about what type of work might exist within the various communities.

Tired of the gambling analogies yet?

The conference was a great opportunity to come together with some of the people who are leading the way when it comes to community economic development. It is an exciting time for economic development in many communities and Stonecircle is happy to provide assistance to communities who may need it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Ron and Kathy Imitating Art Imitating Life

Post-futurist installation artists Ron Ryan and Kathy Clarida in their latest living tableau, "Discourse and Its Derivatives". "I have always been fascinated by the dynamic juxtaposition of organic and inorganic materials in a public setting," says Ron. "We derive our inspiration by listening to the spiritual harmonics investing works as diverse those of Henry Moore and de Broin, and trust that new tensions will resonate with viewer/participants, creating both explicit and implicit meanings."

Okay, we're kidding. Actually, Ron and Kathy were just taking a break at Jennifer David's book launch. Sounded pretty good, though, didn't it?

Monday, October 01, 2012

Last week marked a watershed in IBC's campaign to build their Nunavut Media Arts Centre, a new focal point for film, television and new media workers from and working in Nunavut. Following a meeting of the project's high profile Advisory Committee, and a press conference that drew together much of Nunavut's leadership, IBC launched their official Campaign Website, Building For Dreams, marking the final push to complete a project thirty years in the making. Over the years many of us - Terry Rudden, Chris Grosset, Patti Black, Chuck Gilhuly, and now Catherine Carry - have been proud of our association with one of Nunavut's longest standing and most successful cultural institutions, and we congratulate IBC on reaching the final lap of a three-decade marathon to build a permanent production facility in Nunavut.

Our favorite part of the fundraising site is the mini-film festival that lets you revisit some of IBC's greatest hits. Go visit, enjoy...and become part of broadcasting history in Nunavut by donating!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Community Information Sessions

Stonecircle's Ron Ryan and Kory Goulais recently set-out on the road to present two community information sessions relating to Mineral Exploration and Development. If you read the "Mining Sessions, on your mark, get set, go" post from July 10th 2012, you are well aware that Stonecirlce will be visiting up to 31 communities to deliver a "Mining 101" session to community members.

Since the project began, Stonecircle staff and associates have delivered a total of nine information sessions. Communities include: Ojibways of Pic River First Nation, Fort William First Nation, Seine River First Nation, Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, Couchiching First Nation, Mitaanjigamiing (formerly Stanjikoming) First Nation, Grassy Narrows First Nation, and most recently, Nipissing First Nation and Whitefish River First Nation.

Additionally, six communities have confirmed that they will hold a session in their community in the near future. Another five communities have set potential dates for sessions.

The mining information sessions that are occuring give insight into the Mining and Exploration process  (from prospecting and staking to mine development and closure). It also gives community members a chance to ask Ministry of Northern Mines and Development staff questions relating to various parts of the presentation and learn about the geology in the area.

Stonecircle looks forward to continuing to deliver this necessary information to communities.

Recent sessions

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mark Your Calendars...

Mark Your Calendars...4th National Land Claims Agreements Coalition Conference

February 26-March 1, 2013

Hilton Lac Leamy, Gatineau

Patti Black and her diligent team of event planners are hard at work preparing for what will be the next groundbreaking national conference on modern treaty implementation. Featuring Thomas Berger and other high profile academic and internationally-renowned speakers, this conference will celebrate the 40 years of negotiation and implementation since the Calder Case set the path for modern treaties in 1973. Featuring dynamic panel and working group discussions on the political, legal and economic landscapes within Canada and internationally, plan to attend and help set the course for the next 40 years of modern treaties in Canada.

Stay tuned for more details...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Resolute Bay – Community Economic Development in Action

For David Boult, Senior Associate, one of the greatest parts of being a consultant is getting to work with communities to develop their economies. This past August, David was fortunate enough to travel to Resolute Bay to help the community update its economic development plan. Aarluk Consulting Inc. has been the major provider of CED plans to Nunavut communities since Nunavut was a young territory (1999 actually). To date, Aarluk has conducted economic development plans for over half the communities in the territory. Over the past few years, many communities have asked Aarluk for help in ensuring these plans are updated and kept current.

As usual for the economic planning process, David spent time with the community’s Economic Development Officer, Philip Maniq Sr., reviewing the old plan, seeing what’s been going on in the community over the past five years, and generally getting a sense of the opportunities that currently exist. David then went around and talked to just about everybody in town including outfitters, the co-op manager, local business people, the hotel manager, staff out at the Polar Shelf project – just about anybody he could find.

A highlight of the trip however was an event that took place as David was conducting his post-dinner perambulations around the town. About a half hour into the walk, he heard some shots being fired close to town. Being in the heart of polar bear country, David took a careful look around but only saw a boat in the bay. He heard some more shots and saw some thrashing around in the water near the boat. He quickly headed over to see what the commotion was. He was quite pleased to see that a hunter had captured a nice beluga not 20 feet from shore. As David approached the group surrounding the small whale, he was pleased to see a young boy carefully being shown how to carve off the outer skin or maqtaq from the whale. David left the busy family with a smile on his face thinking “Now that is the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in action”.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Mythical Executive Committee

If you've ever been part of a non-profit organization, served on a Board of Directors, or worked as a volunteer, you've come across a peculiar organizational entity called the "Executive Committee". These legendary bodies perch atop organizations like gargoyles, terrifying Boards and staff members alike with their power, wielding supreme authority over all corporate and organizational decisions, and overseeing everyone's work with their eagle eyes and iron fists.


Sorry, we shouldn't chuckle like that. It's just that an amazing number of people we know - many of whom have served on dozens of Boards - believe this myth. The truth, however, is a bit different.
Executive Committees, if properly mandated, serve a useful purpose, and can help make a Board more effective, efficient and economical in its operations. The bad news: they can also disrupt planning and decision making and confuse lines of authority.

So as a public service, Consilium is pleased to debunk five of the top myths about Executive Committees.