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UNDRIP and Indigenous Procurement: Measuring Quality of Life According to L'nui'tasit


“Mi’gmaq are people of communal identity. To do work that does not benefit or impact our Nation is foreign to me. That’s self-determination in practice as a Mi’gmag professional.”


Canada’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) is grounded in a vision of supporting the self-determined path for Canada’s Indigenous population. It can be difficult to understand what this means, or what it looks like in practice. How are communities or individuals using the concepts laid out in the Declaration to advance their own goals, visions, and way of life in a way that promotes self-determination?


Through this blog series, we showcase some unique examples of how and where we are seeing the successful implementation of UNDRIP, in a way that directly supports Indigenous self-determination.


B & A Logo FinalIn this post, we explore the remarkable journey of Kristy Barnaby and her team at Barnaby & Associates— a technical advisory and consulting firm who partners with construction management and architectural design companies to provide c-suite level advisory and professional services pertaining to Indigenous Participation Plans (IPP), Indigenous Procurement, and relationship management in major infrastructure projects. Under Kristy’s leadership, the firm is committed to using the principles of UNDRIP to advance self-determination and support self-governance in their practices. These practices are grounded in the Mi’gmaq wisdom of L’nui’tasit, or the Mi’gmaq way of knowing.

Revolutionizing Indigenous Procurement: Pioneering Approaches Beyond the Norm

Barnaby & Associates focuses on pushing boundaries in the development of Indigenous Procurement Plans (IPPs)—no longer accepting business-as-usual approaches. Indigenous Procurement Plans are requirements by the federal (and some provincial) governments related to the awarding of large infrastructure contracts. Indigenous Procurement refers to contracting and subcontracting as well as direct hiring of Indigenous individuals, Indigenous businesses, and joint ventures to carry out the work required for the project. The IPP is a contractual agreement between the proponent and the government that outlines how the proponent will fulfill their Procurement Strategy for Indigenous Business (PSIB) commitment. In 2020, the federal government committed to increasing the participation of Indigenous businesses in federal procurement and created a target to have 5% of federal contracts awarded to businesses managed and led by Indigenous people (more information here). Barnaby & Associates has a proven track record of aiming higher, with Indigenous Participation commitments for the communities they work with in the high 20 percentages. It is their commitment to fulfill PSIB to its true intention: to advance socio-economic outcomes and priorities related to increased Indigenous participation and inclusion in federal procurement.


Grounded in Tradition, Driven by Purpose

Kristy Barnaby's journey is not merely one of professional success; it is a testament to resilience, dedication, and a deeply-rooted commitment to her Mi’gmaq identity and purpose.

"I coach my team to be unapologetically Mi’gmaq," she emphasizes, encapsulating the values that drive her and her team forward.

Kristy was born into Natoaganeg, a small Mi’gmag community in the Kespek District of Mi’gma’gi. As Kristy explains, “Mi’gmaq are people of communal identity. To do work that does not benefit or impact our Nation is foreign to me. That’s self-determination in practice as a Mi’gmag professional.”


“Long ago, our teachings, languages, and sciences went  underground. For example, our concepts of economic well-being and sustainability are embedded in the Netukulimk:


"Netukulimk is a complex cultural concept that encompasses Mi’kmaq sovereign law 
ways and guides individual and collective beliefs and behaviours in resource 
protection, procurement, and management to ensure and honour sustainability and 
prosperity for the ancestor, present and future generations.”
— Kerry Prosper (2011)


It is this generation’s role to be groundbreakers, bringing our knowledge systems and language back to the surface. In order for there to be co-development, creating safe space for that process to happen is critical. That’s what Indigenous-led means to us— allowing Indigenous minds to lead. UNDRIP creates and protects a world where I can continue to fulfill my role of bringing L’nui’tasit back to life. That’s what self-determination means to me.”


Measuring Self-Determination and Quality of Life

shane-rounce-DNkoNXQti3c-unsplash“We’re not just building buildings; we’re building and upholding relationships,” Kristy explains in terms of quality and project management within federal infrastructure projects. Kristy’s work in Indigenous Procurement and her innovative approach to IPPs has created a paradigm shift by emphasizing the importance of Indigenous self-determination and self-governance in federal infrastructure projects. “Measuring value goes beyond the dollar—through innovative procurement practices and value-based engineering, we can increase the economic impact in ways that are meaningful to our people. Projects can have wide impacts on communities in many ways. We help identify what is meaningful to them and we measure it.”


Kristy is the first Indigenous person to complete Dalhousie University’s Master of Health Administration degree and is finishing her postgraduate training at Harvard University in Quality & Safety. "As a registered health executive and quality specialist who practices from an Indigenous perspective, I'm able to measure success not just in economic terms but also in terms of self-determination and quality of life."


Empowering Indigenous Voices: The Role of Leadership

Central to Barnaby and Associates' approach is the emphasis on Indigenous voices at all levels. An unwavering feature of Barnaby & Associates is centering the voice of Indigenous leaders. Historically, Indigenous leadership has been left out of many conversations and large projects due to a gap in knowledge of what and who defines 'stakeholder'. As Kristy describes, “they [stakeholders] must be representatives of the community or Nation in which a project lives- that’s how you begin to meet the standard of distinctions-based.” Kristy’s work amplifies Indigenous perspectives, ensuring that procurement plans are aligned with the priorities of Indigenous businesses, organizations, and governing bodies.


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Looking Ahead: A Future of Empowerment and Reconciliation

Through self-determination initiatives like the development of IPPs, Kristy’s work is forging a future where economic empowerment aligns with community goals and objectives. This is what true self-determination means. It is about challenging the existing systems and advocating for new approaches that recognize Indigenous Rights and values. For Kristy and her team, embracing the principles of UNDRIP to achieve their own goals around self-determinations is a journey rooted in tradition, driven by purpose, and guided by the timeless wisdom of L'nui'tasit.

About the Authors:



Kristy Barnaby, MHA

Chief Executive Officer, Barnaby & Associates


Kristy Barnaby is a proud community member of the Mi’gmag community, Nataoaganeg in New Brunswick. She is the mom of one son, and aunty to 18, and great aunt to two nieces.


Kristy Barnaby is the CEO and founder of Barnaby & Associates, a technical advising and consulting company that specializes in IPP, Infrastructure, Economic Reconciliation Strategies, National Governance Engagement Plans, and Relationship Management. She holds a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Health Administration and is currently completing her postgraduate training in Quality, Safety & Informatics at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ms. Barnaby’s training in Quality Management is preceded by her 19 years of professional experience and academic research within the fields of Indigenous governance, health-, business-, and public administration. Kristy has collaboratively authored several academic papers. She has also contributed to several regional and national Indigenous Knowledge (IK) standards and regulatory guidelines. She holds a seat on the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Board. Ms. Barnaby is well-versed in the application of Treaty, TRC, UNDRIP, and traditional knowledge. Ms. Barnaby is also a member of the Canadian College of Health Leaders (CCHL), the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), and (soon) the Construction Association Nova Scotia (CANS). Kristy also participates within the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).


Kristy Barnaby, BSc, MHA, CHE, CIHRP, Harvard Postgraduate Candidate-Quality Management (2024)
Chief Executive Officer/Founder

Barnaby & Associates Inc.
Natoaganeg, New Brunswick
Halifax, Nova Scotia



Jess uncropped for site-1


Jessica Steiner, Senior Project Director and Client Liaison

Shared Value Solutions


Jessica specializes in Indigenous engagement and consultation for major infrastructure development projects predominantly in Canada's energy and mining sectors. With a wealth of experience spanning over a decade in conducting Indigenous Knowledge and Land Use Studies, Jessica is highly skilled and proficient in community-based research, GIS and mapping, data management, and crafting comprehensive reports. Her work helps protect the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of her clients as they relate to lands, resources, and culture. More recently, Jessica has directed her expertise towards supporting Indigenous communities in advancing their goals and objectives, in relation to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). In her capacity as a client liaison at Shared Value Solutions, Jessica spearheads business development initiatives. She is dedicated to forging new connections, nurturing existing relationships, and identifying fresh opportunities aligned with her client's goals and values.





About Us: Shared Value Solutions

We are a Canadian B Corp, and we assist Indigenous communities with support throughout regulatory processes surrounding major development projects like mines, hydroelectric facilities, transmission lines, highway expansions, oil and gas pipelines, natural resource transport applications and nuclear power. 


We have deep context and experience behind the recommendations we provide, having worked for our clients on almost every major project in Canada over the last 10 years. For us, it’s all about building long-term relationships with our clients. We want to get to know you and what you want to do so we can help you move your plans forward. 




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