A better way to work together: A strategic and collaborative approach to sustainable communities

Elected leaders in Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) and Winnipeg Metropolitan Region (WMR) have acknowledged there needs to be a better way to work together. The Collaborative Leadership Initiative (CLI) is a process, facilitated by the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER), where leaders come together to learn from one another and find a common understanding on how they can collaborate to improve the livelihood of their communities and citizens. It is with this commitment that the leaders develop an approach and plan of action on how their communities and the region can move forward together.CLI Leaders are pursuing a collaborative and strategic approach that will allow them to tackle shared social issues; create good jobs and a strong economy; reduce costs; improve relationships between different levels of governments; and pursue the complex issues of protecting our land, water and air.


The goals of CLI align with many United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) including SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. CLI Leaders are taking seriously the need to plan to make sure their communities work for the people living there now and in the future. They are ensuring their communities and region remain safe and secure from impacts of a changing climate and extreme weather events.


The problems aren’t going to go away on their own. Leaders can’t do it alone. Collaboratively tackling issues creates a sustainable future for each community and the region. After the first four CLI meetings and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), leaders met together to move into the action phase of their partnerships. They agreed that they would pursue a circular economy model which focuses on reducing waste and resource inputs to sustainably grow the economy.

Learning about the experiences, interests and goals of others is an integral step toward working together to make sustainable communities. Sharing stories helps leaders understand each other and motivates others to help create communities that are safe and comfortable places to live today and into the future. 

The CLI framework shows how Indigenous and municipal leaders from across the country can exercise a balanced and thoughtful approach to forging strong economic, social and environmental partnerships. All leaders who are part of the CLI believe the time has come to take action and agree that by working together they have the power to move forward in leaps and bounds.