Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian band, shown with Premier Christy Clark last February, says he recognizes the need for the Idle No More movement and how it has gained traction among aboriginals, non-aboriginals and the media.
"The two things I like doing are creating jobs and making money for the Osoyoos Indian band," said Louie. "Money equals opportunity. I don't have a love of money. I have a love of opportunity."
Louie said he's tired of hearing some Indian chiefs focus on poverty among First Nations.
"I just shake my head and say, 'Why don't you talk about jobs?'" he said. "How the hell are you going to get rid of poverty if you don't have jobs? Talk about jobs. Talk about the economy."
Louie said there needs to be a shift from allocating massive amounts of money toward social issues plaguing the aboriginal population to investing in economic development instead.
"I even argue with some of my own people on this," he said. "That formula, it's never worked and never will work. We don't need more social spending. We need more economic development spending."
He offered his opinion on Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who went on a liquid diet to force a meeting Friday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
Louie said there's a significant difference among First Nations and how Indian bands operate, including the fact Attawapiskat is a treaty area whereas many bands, including Osoyoos, are in non-treaty areas.
"They come from numbered treaties that were done in the 1800s," he said. "They come from a position of having treaties that were signed a long time ago that were signed between the Crown and their treaty area."
He called the Idle No More movement "a good awareness movement" that has garnered a substantial amount of media attention for First Nations issues.
The meetings between Spence, First Nations leaders and the government are half a step in the right direction, said Louie.
"You can have a meeting, but unless you have somebody carrying the ball, unless workers are assigned to carry the issues between meetings, all it is is a meeting for the day with a lot of good words and good intentions, and that's what happens."
He believes in building business relationships.
"That's what we're doing here in Osoyoos: we create businesses, and we want a business relationship with our neighbours."
Louie acknowledged most First Nations in Canada don't have a location comparable to the Osoyoos Indian band, near a main highway and other small towns, noting that "Attawapiskat is a fly-in
He added that many First Nations, including Indian bands in the Okanagan, had their land taken from them and were pushed to far less desirable rural areas when Canada was forming.
It's one of the reasons many reserves are economically challenged, said Louie.
In Osoyoos, the band had 1,619 hectares of prime land taken from it. The band currently has 12,950 hectares, much of it on hilly and mountainous terrain.
However, because most of the property is band-owned land suitable for development, the band has been able to develop it more easily than bands with land in rocky, mountainous regions.
"When the developers do business with us, they do business with the band council and the band. They don't have to go and talk to three or four different land owners to get them to agree," he added.
The Osoyoos Indian band has a history of having a hard-working, self-supporting and business-oriented attitude since the late 1960s.
That work ethic has paid off, as Nk'Mip Cellars, North America's first aboriginal-owned and operated winery, was recognized as the top winery in B.C. and second best in Canada by Wine Access Magazine in 2012.
Meanwhile, the Nk'Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course is in its first phase of a major housing development.
"That's awesome," said Louie, adding that once First Nations leadership concentrates on business and focuses on building business relationships, it can succeed independently rather than having to rely on the government for financial assistance.
With a more prosperous economy, First Nations' social issues would start to disappear, he said.
Louie borrowed a quote from a previous national chief: "He said, 'It's the economic horse that pulls the social cart. Some people are trying to put the cart before the horse.'
"That doesn't work," said Louie.