By Jonas Gagnon
Without a plan building is just chaotic action with the end result something less than what had been anticipated.
In an effort to escape that treadmill action, Nak’azdli hired Angel Ransom as the Community Planner. In place for just over half a year now, Ransom is in the midst of an information storm she’s trying to subdue and lay into a neatly charted plan that will benefit not only Nak’azdli, but it’s conjoined twin, Fort St. James too.
Though Ransom’s still new to the job she has at least one goal firmly in mind.
“My number one goal as a community planner, regardless of whether it is a Nak’azdli Band member or a Fort St. James community member, is to get the people themselves involved. Because, after all it is a community plan, made by the community, for the community. “
Working in that community she hopes to take on the troubles that band members have told her are troubling them.
“We’re working toward community development on all levels, like increasing employment, increasing training opportunities, a higher education success rate, less homeless people, less social issues, more housing. Those are kind of the big things I’ve heard,” said Ransom.
Through all that movement and development runs a chord that will keep the programs and plans viable.
“Moving in a sustainable manner is the underlying goal,” said Ransom.
It all adds up to a big job.
Ransom, a born and bred Fort St. James native, was drawn to the job after having finished school in Prince George and wanting to come home to work.
“What drew me to this position was: being able to work at home, to live back in the community, and work for my specific First Nations community,” said Ransom, adding later, “I saw it as an opportunity to reconnect with community members and also learn more of history of Ft. St. James and also the Nak’azdli/Carrier culture and traditions. So getting back to my roots.”
Jumping into the job she found herself in the middle of an immense project.
“When I came into the job the first thing I said was one year is not enough time to do a community plan, if you want a good plan. And I looked at the big picture and thought, ‘holy smokes this is gonna be a big job.’ And it is, but I knew I would have to build relationships, build trust with people,” said Ransom.
Ransom isn’t letting the size of the project deter her from making it through.
“I’m willing to commit to see it to the end, till it’s implemented,” she said.
That in and of itself is a great step forward to the project. Interruptions are one of the greatest obstacles that plans face. Continuity, both hers, and the governments, is instrumental.
“What would make some of this planning possible is to have consistent financial and human resources in place to continuously work toward achieving those long term goals,” said Ransom.
Interruptions can be deadly for a project, and similarly a plan, no matter how good, can fail if there’s no will to make things happen.
“Say somebody’s working on a project and they have a good rolling start and then their project funding ends, and then the project dies. It’s like that with a plan, you can have an excellent, effective plan in place, but it’s a matter of actually implementing it as well, and seeing it through so it’s implemented properly,” said Ransom.
These obstacles have convinced her to, not only make her plan, but take her time to make a good plan, and make sure it’s going to be implemented properly.
To create the atmosphere, free of interruptions and with enough resources for implementation, Ransom knows she can’t do it all herself, or ignore the help and community that is out there.
“I knew it was going to take a lot of support, and collaboration through inter-department, ad outside agencies,” said Ransom. “It’s a project I knew that I can’t do alone. It’s going to take time and patience and resources.”
So she’s reached out to the Nak’azdli community and the Fort St. James community.
“Collaboration, for one, is a key thing. I support the thought of collaboration and partnerships on projects,” said Ransom.
By mining the common needs for both communities Ransom increases her tools to make the project successful.
“If we’re working with the district they might have a key person that we don’t have, and we can mix and match and fill in the gaps,” said Ransom.
With her focus on collaboration Ransom intends to move from the information collecting part of her job and moving to communicating with the community.
“There’s going to be a lot more community engagement,” said Ransom.
Through the long, slow process Ransom keeps in mind a saying she hear at a conference:
If you want to go far go together, if you want to go fast go alone.