Insights From The Canadian Indigenous Investment Summit

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Get to know the highlights from the Canadian Indigenous Investment Summit 2024, featuring key insights from Alderman Robert Hughes Penney.

My Lord Mayor, fellow Aldermen, Your Excellency, Chiefs, Distinguished Guests. Good afternoon!  

By way of introduction, my name is Robert Hughes-Penney, and I am the Alderman for the Ward of Cheap, which doesn’t sound quite as cool and sexy as Rob Brant’s “Wolf Clan” introduction! 

It has been a huge privilege to be with you today. As the Lord Mayor said this morning, to connect to prosper. 

I have a great personal affection for Canada and its people. I had an incredibly happy and fulfilling year working in Canada in my 20s. My father spent 30 years working for a Canadian business, and I have relatives in British Columbia. So, I have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to Canada.  

Professionally, as an investment manager who started work just around the corner over 30 years ago, I have consistently and consciously been an investor in Canadian companies for many years and am reassured by the Canadian track record of resilience in times of economic stress - the only G-7 country to have avoided a crisis in the GFC and with a World Economic Forum’s ranking for banking stability being first among 140 countries.  

Today, we have had the opportunity to reflect on how this great track record could be improved even further and, importantly, for an even wider range of people. We have heard from some truly distinguished and expert speakers about investment opportunities in Canada’s energy, natural resources, and infrastructure sectors and the important role that meaningful partnership with indigenous peoples has in achieving sustainable growth.  

We have also had the opportunity to be informed and to discuss and reflect on these things, and I hope that in a positive and constructive sense, our thinking has also been challenged, distilled and developed. These are key and hugely significant subjects, not just for Canada but for the worldwide community.  

Canada is a country blessed with substantial natural assets and a rich heritage that is admired and respected around the world. As such, it has an important part to play in the world. There is a real opportunity for the country to serve the wider world by leading and modelling the harnessing for the mutual benefit of natural assets, heritage and diverse communities. So, I am encouraged by today’s meeting and our conversations, and I hope you are, too.  

I have long believed and said on occasions such as this that capitalism, at its best, is about the flourishing of humanity in the round, not just piling up pound coins or dollar bills. It should and must present opportunities not only for financial returns but also investments that contribute to the well-being of all humanity… those nations, communities and peoples that have been on the land since time immemorial and those that have arrived more recently.  

Hal reminded us this morning that everyone has the same coloured shadow. So, the inclusion of indigenous communities in investment and development discussions and decisions fulfils the legal obligations but, even more importantly, is the right thing to do and rightly honouring, and I regret that has not always been the case, despite the fact that honouring and inclusion makes good business sense; with collaboration and partnership that unlocks innovation and creates new opportunities.  

Business has an important role in reconciliation.  

No single person or group has a monopoly on good ideas, wisdom and insight. I believe we all have unique gifts and talents, which, when combined harmoniously, result in a better outcome for all.  

We were reminded of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and this reminded me of the Impact Investing Institute, of which I am on the Board, publishing its guide for engaging communities in place-based impact investing. And very much resonating with the theme of today’s conference was the reference in it to The International Association for Public Participation’s Spectrum of Public Participation, which is a recognised taxonomy for possible types of engagement. This sees an increasing impact on the decision when you go through five steps of: inform, consult, evolve, collaborate, and empower.  

Of course, this process allows the wisdom of the ages to emerge, and when it comes to providing valuable insights for sustainable development that can enhance pioneering solutions in managing natural resources, I am sure that indigenous knowledge and stewardship practices have much to offer.  

Indeed, I am often reminded when standing just outside at Bank junction, with many roads leading off it, here in the heart of the City, of another ancient prophet’s wise words; “stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it.”  

And I think we’ve heard from all parties today a real desire and willingness to move forward in this spirit with those five steps of inform, consult, evolve, collaborate, and empower.  

And so, as we wrap up this afternoon, can I once again say how pleased we are to have had the opportunity to host you here in the Square Mile, the world’s most open and global financial centre. Our offer is to share the best of the rich ecosystem of financial and professional services that exist here, to support the indigenous investment initiatives and opportunities in Canada that will bring mutual benefit for parties across Canada and on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the organisers, the speakers, the sponsors, the Lord Mayor and all the staff at Mansion House. So, we owe a debt of gratitude to the co-hosts Mark Magnacca of gigCMO and Rob Brant of McCarthy Tetrault, the sponsors, CIBC, Anglo American, Scotiabank and Enbridge, to all those that have contributed, to the Chiefs in particular for travelling to the City – your presence here today has been very special and we are humbled that you have taken the time to do this, and finally to all of you for coming.  

Let’s show our appreciation in a time-honoured way.  

Thank you, and good afternoon.