You may have heard of Paul Paterson, Gitga’at Development Co’s busy CEO. Since 2017, Paul has been the head of GDC, helping the company and the community grow.
We had the opportunity to ask Paul some questions and learn some more about him and his work with GDC.
How did you become CEO of GDC?
I began doing contract work for Gitga’at First Nation (GFN) in mid-2014. Soon after, I managed GFN’s re-engagement in the BC Treaty process and became the lead negotiator shortly after that. In addition, I provided support and advice on Indigenous rights and title, working with leadership, membership, and other members of GFN’s consultant team.
In February 2017, I was offered the job and began my work in the CEO’s role in March.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
These last four years have been an incredibly fulfilling time for me as I’ve worked to bring the GDC into the shape and form that it is now. It’s now something real that serves the economic interests and goals of the Nation.
It has been very rewarding for me to participate in what I see as an incredible time in the First Nation’s movement into the economic space and the very powerful economic aspect of Reconciliation.
What are the big obstacles you face?
There’s never enough direct support to Indigenous communities. The Government’s approach to Indigenous and local content in the large industrial construction projects in the Northwest is a constant challenge these days as well.
You’re currently in school. How does that relate to your current role?
I’ve just finished a condensed Masters of Business Administration through UBC’s Sauder School of Business. My reason for taking the program was to learn more skills and tools to become better at work I do as CEO of GDC.
What do you value in a business partnership?
The same things I value in any relationship: honesty, respect, consideration of the other, accountability to each other, and commitment to the relationship’s well-being. If other companies don’t align in key areas, we don’t pursue the partnership.
What kinds of projects are you passionate about?
The projects where I can clearly see why it’s a good decision now and why it will still be a good decision 10, 20, or more years down the road.
I’m also passionate about projects that meet the test of the key values that guide everything GDC does, including accounts for principles of sustainability, provides meaningful and respectful work for Gitga’at members, and advances the Nation’s economic and political growth.
I’m also very happy and proud when members can point at a GDC project and say, “That’s ours” or, “We did that,” or, “We’re part of that.” Some examples are the renovations of Gitga’at’s building and the Gitga’at City West partnership on the submerged fibre optic network running up Douglas Channel.
What does the future of GDC look like?
I think GDC’s future looks exciting, prosperous (economically and socially), and very bright. Since 2014, I’ve seen so much good happen in and around the community and the territory. I’ve witnessed the amazing foresight of the Hereditary and elected leaders and community members, and I am grateful to have worked for the Nation during this incredible period.
I am also amazed by the commitment of all the people who work for Gitga’at, whether as employees, consultants, or contractors. This kind of unity of effort and purpose suggests a very positive future for the Nation.