President’s Message


Good day to our CFAR Circle of Relatives,

There is a word that seems to be resonating with many these early days of 2024, and that is Community.  I hear it in all of my circles, see it on all my socials, and feel it in the hum of the conferences and coffees.  Community is connection… is CFAR.

For our Indigenous-led organization, community and connection are the very heart of what we do.  CFAR is the only grassroots Indigenous Community & Industry Practitioner networking organization of its kind aimed at connecting Indigenous communities with Industry, at connecting ideas, opportunities, and hearts through the cultivation of real, meaningful relationships.  Our mission is simple and critical:

To provide leadership in Aboriginal, government and industry relations by creating a circle of relatives to foster a broad understanding of different perspectives. CFAR facilitates the development of trust, respect, and credibility among our membership and with others.

Like many not-for-profit organizations, the year has been challenging for CFAR.  It’s not that sponsorship dollars, volunteer efforts, and membership is scarce so much as the competition for these things is ever-increasing.  In a post-pandemic world of big flag-waving conferences, major industry initiatives toward Reconciliation, and an abundance of organizations for volunteers to engage in, it has been tough on our gentle organization to maintain space and secure the necessary resources.  This has forced us to look inward and to consider – deeply and realistically – what we are capable of.  But, as a member-driven organization, that choice isn’t up to us, the Board.  It is up to our membership.

So that’s what we did:  At our most recent AGM on January 20, 2024, we asked our membership the hard question:  Is there a current place for CFAR?  The response was mixed. But also – and I am not exaggerating when I say – the response was emotional.  It indicated the true heart connections that our Indigenous-led membership share.

So what is CFAR, and what value do we offer?  In a word: relationships.  Those of us working in the realm of Indigenous Relations know that relationships are everything.  This period ahead of us is one of exploration, of curiosity, and of creativity as we discuss with our members how we might best serve, grow, and carve out that place that only CFAR can fit.  We welcome your voice in this conversation to help shape the days ahead.

This time brings another change, as our long-standing President, Sandra Sutter, transitions to the role of Past President.  All who know her recognize the passion, power, and life that Sandra has brought to and maintained in CFAR.  She has led a shining example of what is possible through heart-based leadership and community-based commitment.  In her place I am honoured to accept the nomination to the President of the Board role and with me, I ask you to help welcome and congratulate Brad Sinclair on his nomination to the Vice President role – a testament to his respected standing and leadership in the industry.  Though the time is tumultuous, we hope to serve your organization in a way which honours the essence of what CFAR is.

My ask to you, my relatives and our Circle of Relations, is that you let us know what we mean to you in your role and how we may add value.  We ask that you share the opportunities of membership with your own networks, and that you consider and advocate for CFAR in your budgets this year.  We welcome your participation in conversations that will surely impact our direction in the coming days.

Thank you for being part of the CFAR family,