Column: First Nations man looks to bridge the off-reserve divide
"Mark Podlasly complains of aboriginal stereotypes: poverty, crime, poor education, unemployment. All are present to varying extents in aboriginal Canada, but there are lots of Mark Podlaslys, too: well-educated, articulate, professional aboriginals, living off-reserve, who don’t accept the vision of most of the country’s native political leaders.

After almost a decade working in the United States and Asia, Mr. Podlasly (with his aboriginal wife, who just received her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has come home to British Columbia to make a difference. What he wants to do is implant himself and other aboriginals in B.C.’s business culture, not as token aboriginals but as the professionals they are. “I’d like to see how people view professional aboriginals,” says Mr. Podlasly, who has established a consulting firm.

Ideally, he’d like to create a network of such people, with varying skill sets, to work with him. A graduate of Trinity Western University, Mr. Podlasly worked for the federal government, then Westcoast Transmission; he earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard, worked on developing and managing joint U.S.-Korean ventures and now seeks involvement in large resource-based projects.

He’s a member of the N’laka’pamux First Nation, part of the B.C. Interior Salish nation. He grew up there and returned during the summers after his parents moved to Vancouver, where he attended high school in New Westminster. His first nation has 15 bands and two tribal councils; his own reserve has 60 people living there from a membership of 350. And therein lies a drama played out across Canada, where small reserves can’t be economically self-reliant no matter what their chiefs say."

Get the Story:
Jeffrey Simpson: Battling aboriginal tradition (The Globe and Mail 7/28)

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