An image of Executive Director, melanie debassige

Embracing change. A message from Melanie Debassige

It's a new year, and with it come new projects, new initiatives, new events, new staff, technology, responsibilities, and more! In other words, a lot of change.

Change is a scary word, but I think for the most part we can call agree that change is a necessary and crucial element of our personal and professional growth. There's a saying that "Change begins at the end of your comfort zone." It may be unpleasant, but it's true.

Over the past twenty-five years, OFNTSC has accomplished so much for our First Nations, but as an organization the Board structure has not evolved. When I joined OFNTSC as the Executive Director in 2018, it quickly became apparent that a lot of transformation needed to happen if OFNTSC was going to stay relevant and remain essential to the First Nations communities we serve. 

That's why, after an organizational review was conducted by Deloitte in 2016, the following recommendations for change came forward: 

  1. Mandate & Strategy: Define service definitions to allow OFNTSC to better integrate its current service offerings. 
  2. Board Governance: Review current Board governance in terms of size and term limits, including a Board competency framework with the view of potentially changing the overall composition of the Board to appoint Board members who have non-technical expertise and backgrounds (e.g. those with legal, financial, and business backgrounds). 
  3. Performance Measurement and Reporting: Develop a quantitative performance management framework for the organization to determine if it has achieved its goals. 
  4. Expenditure Reduction: Decrease administrative costs related in terms of office space and travel.
  5. Expenditure Processes and Controls: Ensure proper supporting documentation to support expenditures. 
  6. Payroll Processes and Controls: Ensure employment contracts are, at a minimum, updated on an annual basis.

We at OFNTSC faced this challenge head on, and a tremendous amount of work has been undertaken over the last five years including; consultation with staff on service definitions and performance measurement standards; board governance restructuring; development of performance metrics; a move from Toronto to Brantford to reduce office expenses; updating the human resource files for all staff; development of a memorandum of understanding with the Chiefs of Ontario, etc. After all of this incredible work, I am very proud to say we are 95% of the way there.

As we ring in a new year, I feel filled with a renewed sense of purpose and hope. Not just for the planet as we continue to collectively battle COVID-19, but also for OFNTSC. All of the modifications we have undertaken within the last few years, and the ones we will continue to implement are being done for the betterment of our First Nations communities. 

However, there is one thing that will not change, and that is our commitment to helping First Nations in Ontario achieve technical self-reliance and self-sufficiency. This has been our mission since day one, and I promise we will never lose sight of that very worthy goal. 

So here's to 2021. We're ready!

Melanie Debassige, MBA, ICD.D
Executive Director, OFNTSC