By Joey Krackle
Forward-thinking business strategy has the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation continuing to help fund supports for the reserve and neighbors in the surrounding area.
In 1997, after much hard work, their Land Code was ratified to open their community development project- the Great Blue Heron Casino.
Chief Kelly LaRocca says that having their own land code enables management and control of their land, resources and environment. “Local employment at the Casino is available to First Nation members and the population has increased considerably.”
Chief LaRocca says good efforts are revitalizing our culture. “Restoration of the Anishinaabemowin language in the community is underway. Cultural teachings are regularly conducted in the community.”
Tara White looks after the Economic Development Committee. She is the Financial and Business Development Officer offering a variety of programs and services to support the membership through the Baagwating Community Association. That’s the community charitable organization of the Great Blue Heron Casino responsible for distributing casino proceeds to their membership.
Chief LaRocca explains the organization’s objective is to make charitable contributions to non-profit organizations and registered charities that are in need of financial support.
The Chief emphasizes it is independent. “All decisions of the Board for donation payments are in the sole discretion of the Baagwating Community Association. It is separate from the First Nation Council. Baagwating has its own Board Governance and election of Directors.”
Chief LaRocca says Scugog First Nation applauds the work of Baagwating. “They have built social capital within the Durham Region.”
Chief LaRocca praises the work of building community networks between the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, the Scugog Township, the Durham Region, and the local townspeople. “We have built relationships of trust and respect. The first step of partnering with the private sector led us in the direction of further self-reliance, economic diversification and cultural revitalization.”
The Great Blue Heron Casino is located on Scugog Island, just east of the scenic town of Port Perry. The casino has a newly expanded aboriginal land and water theme providing guests with a relaxing, natural setting.