The success of WFN is a story of incremental learning. When reserve countries began to acquire potential economic value in the 1960s, members obtained CPs and used them to lease trailer parks. The WFN government has also created a residential area from communal land. But state institutions were weak, and economic development gave rise to internal conflicts with numerous accusations of secrecy and patronage. The Hall Commission, established in 1986, set wfN on the path to government reform. The end result was a self-management agreement with Canada, which was enacted in 2005 by federal legislation. First Nations people living on Indian reserves are the most disadvantaged segment of Canada`s Aboriginal population. But not all of the situation is bleak because some First Nations are finding a path to prosperity. Scientists and journalists alike often focus on bad news, but we should also look at the good news to see what we can learn from successful First Nations. Westbank First Nation, located in British Columbia on the west side of Lake Okanagan, across from Kelowna, is a very successful first nation, and its achievements provide important lessons for other First Nations and Canadian policy makers.
The WFN government has also made other business investments, with different results. While some have flourished, there have been two notable setbacks: investment in Northland Bank, which went bankrupt in 1985; and the costly failure of a proposal to build a medical clinic that led to the defeat of the current boss in 2016. Upon learning of the experience, WFN reorganized its business plans to make the Chief and Council`s investment decisions and put them in the hands of an independent board of directors – a step towards best practices for state-owned enterprises. Westbank First Nation (WFN) has combined individual property rights in the form of certificates of ownership (CPs) with a government system that allows these rights to become useful in the economy. The lesson is that neither property rights nor government can succeed alone, but the two together can become a powerful engine of wealth creation. To be most effective, property rights must be supported by a government that defines and registers these rights, implements them impartially within the framework of the law and supports homeowners through public services and services such as roads, police and fire protection, water and sewers, as well as other equipment needed to make property development attractive.