On one smoky week in May, we visited Tatanka Oyate Holdings in the community of Wahpeton Dakota Nation, Saskatchewan. Anna Barley, CEO, reflects on the visit.
Why is it so important to visit communities we work with?
It’s very important. It allows us to get a much better read on the specific interests and areas we can help with. Having face-to-face conversation improves our ability to better support clients. Anytime we can visit community, the better we can understand specific dynamics, and the better we can support them in so many respects. Seeing the infrastructure, projects, and meeting members gives the better ability to come up with strategic funds to help service them in the most efficient and best possible way. Being in community and meeting with people in person is one of my favourite things to do.
What did you appreciate about visiting Tatanka Oyate Holdings?
The community was so incredibly friendly, welcoming and open. They celebrated having visitors to their territory. We had heard so many great things but seeing it in person was a great opportunity. We learned a little bit of language – ‘tatanka’, the name of the their development corporation Tatanka Oyate Holdings, means bison in the Dakota language. The bison were a driving force in their history and they still have a ceremonial herd in the community. The Dakota people span the United States and Canada and are one of the largest cultures in North America, from an Indigenous perspective. There is also a beautiful interpretive centre with so much history.
What I found very interesting is how much they celebrate their artisans. There are stores with everything from earrings, clothing, leather goods, homegoods, and blankets. They do an excellent job showcasing and celebrating the artisanship of their people. In Downtown Saskatoon, there are multiple stores, with one store even having 150 different artisans represented. We have this in other areas of Canada, but they take it to another level. I have never seen anything quite like it.
We were able to learn about other projects that are in the works. They are piloting interesting work around carbon credits and AI-based medical equipment. They have a number of interests in forestry and agriculture. The next step they’ve identified in order to grow and move forward is creating a five-year strategic plan, to think about their business opportunities and directions they should take.
What is Strategies North’s process for strategic planning?
We walk with our clients through strategic planning to help figure out their areas of focus and priorities, and timelines and budgets associated with that. We don’t build in isolation; we work with all of the major stakeholders to figure out the right direction. Their vision, mission, mandates, and values guide the process and are used to narrow down priorities and how they can build a path forward. A big part of that is an implementation plan – it’s one thing to have a strategic vision, but it’s another thing to execute on that vision.
Any last thoughts?
Just a big thank you to Wahpeton Dakota Nation and Tatanka Oyate Holdings for hosting us. Our ultimate priority is our relationships, and any opportunity to be with clients face-to-face helps strengthen that relationship. Building that relationship piece is what allows us to be more successful in our work. When they win, we win too.