Our communications strategies facilitate consistent communication
between all stakeholders and open up friendly discussions on
developing working relationships.

Government Relations Unicorn: The Curious Case of Batchewana First Nation’s Needed Arena Upgrades

The term "unicorn" when described as "elusive" refers to something that is difficult to find, capture or obtain. It suggests that the object or concept in question is rare, elusive or hard to pin down. In this context, it implies that the unicorn, as a mythical creature, is elusive or hard to locate, much like an object of great rarity or an idea that is challenging to grasp. The elusive nature of unicorns adds to their mystique and allure in folklore and storytelling.  (Chat GTP)

In government relations terms, these are initiatives and projects that you believe you will never get funded, not for lack of effort, but because every door has been slammed in your face repeatedly over the years!


To secure arena and recreational money when the opportunity presents itself is a highly competitive process and only a few get chosen and supported. Throughout the years, infrastructure programs through Indigenous Services Canada, Infrastructure Canada and other funding departments have had short-windows of opportunities for First Nations to submit their recreational funding requests.

It was sort of winning the lottery if you got through and had your project supported.  With my oldest client, Batchawana First Nation (since 2006), my file regarding their Community Arena renovation request goes back to 2011 -13 years ago.   

Fednor officials told us:

“We don’t fund recreational facilities, just economic development projects!”

Over the years, we’ve tried (in no particular order):

  1. 1. Northern Ontario Heritage Fund - Strategic Economic Infrastructure Program,
  2. 2. Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program,
  3. 3. CHRT-41,
  4. 4. Jordan’s Principle,
  5. 5. Canada 150,
  6. 6. Ready to Go Infrastructure Funding - Intake 1 and 2,
  7. 7. Green Inclusive Community Building - Intake 1 and 2.

At every turn, our projects submissions were rejected and never supported.  Nobody ever said it, but everybody was thinking it: 

“Why don’t you just give up, this is never gonna happen!”????

My answer has always been:  

“When it comes to government relations, timing is everything. You just never know when the right opportunity comes and the right program is launched that will completely change your fortune with unicorn projects.  

As Wayne Gretzky says:


‘You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take!’”

Everybody was well aware that the Green and Inclusive Community Building Fund had an intake but very few people new of the continuous stream.  

Hidden in their news release was the following small bullet point:

  • Applicants with small and medium retrofit projects to existing community buildings ranging in total eligible cost from $100,000 to $2,999,999 are accepted and funded on a continuous basis.

After Batchewana First Nation wasn’t successful in the first intake, we decided to re-read the news release to get insight on when officials expected to release the second intake.  

After re-reading the release, knowing that I had so many rejections over the years, the above point that was lost in the first read of the GICB news release, suddenly stood out!  

If the project was under 3 million, Batchewana First Nation could apply for the continuous program!!????

TheCCSGroup began arranging meetings with GICB staff and they began working with Batchewana’s team on our submission to the continuous intake.  Within a short month, we filled out the application in collaboration with Infrastructure staff and we were subsequently approved (see below)!

Lessons Learned:

Over the years, I’ve learned that persistence and a positive attitude are the golden ticket to success in succeeding to make projects a reality.  

Criticism and disbelief are disempowering attitudes.   Having trust in your vision, and a belief that nothing will stand in your way, although it sounds cliché, is the secret sauce and the only approach that works to secure success when pursuing funds for your projects.

Download Press Release (PDF)

Leave a Reply