Business forum opportunity for entrepreneurs, Indigenous youth to grow
- EFN Staff | September 13, 2017
The Treaty #4 Centre in Fort Qu’Appelle hosted the Saskatchewan Indigenous Business Forum where Indigenous youth and entrepreneurs had the opportunity to expand their network, showcase their business, and be a part of positive change on reconciliation.
Shaun Soonias, the Executive Director of Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network (SFNEDN), said the event had a great turn out with folks from across Saskatchewan and even people from British Columbia who attended.
“We have representatives from youth and student entrepreneurs, Indigenous and mainstream business leaders, community and municipal representation,” he said. “We had a great agenda and lots of great speakers. Stories from individual entrepreneurs [were shared] in their journey, struggles, challenges and successes they’ve encountered in their business development.”
More than 30 youth attended the event to learn where they were one of the main focuses of the business forum. According to the press release, the SFNEDN is a direct response to the Call to Action #92 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which states that the corporate sector must engage in meaningful consultation and develop respectful relationships with Indigenous communities and businesses as well as providing education and opportunities to Indigenous people.
“When the treaty elders and leaders were negotiating treaty a century plus ago, their vision was a future filled with independence and prosperity like that of their ancestors,” said Milton Tootoosis, Chair, SFNEDN. “Fast forward in today’s information age, diverse innovative sectors and less barriers, there are plenty of new business opportunities for youth to explore and to not just survive, but to thrive.”
Whitecap Industrial Services hosted the Saskatchewan Indigenous Business Forum the past two years in Treaty 6 territory but they wanted to hand off the event to another community to take over. Soonias and the planning committee wanted the opportunity of hosting the event on Treaty 4 lands.
“We had a great day. Lots of good people, a great agenda and a lot of energy in the room,” said Soonias. “We had great support from our sponsors and a great planning committee that helped bring this altogether.”
The event focused on Indigenous youth, entrepreneurship and economic diversity. Regional businesses and entrepreneur start-up assistance groups attended to discuss emerging business opportunities, technology and support services, along with providing real-life lessons learned in business.