World Indigenous Business Forum to have youth component
- EFN Staff | January 16, 2016
The World Indigenous Business Forum slated for Saskatoon in the third week of August will have a strong youth component to it. One would think a forum of this sort would not be the best or most interesting event for young people, but the organizers and a couple of lucky youth from Saskatoon say otherwise.
Hailey Lavallee is a 19 year old social work student at FNUC, but in October she was lucky enough to attend the WIBF event in Hawaii. What she saw there has inspired her to attend and contribute as a volunteer when Saskatoon hosts the event this summer. “My intent was to go to Hawaii and learn about business and other Indigenous people and of course to see Hawaii,” said Lavallee who earned her way on the trip by being an Atoske alumni. “I learned we have the same struggles across the world but I also learned what it takes to be an entrepreneur.” In Hawaii, Hailey was asked to perform at the announcement of the Saskatoon event. Her jigging was a big hit and showcased the culture of our territory.
Rosa Walker is the President and CEO of the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute who is co-hosting the forum with the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network. She says the input of youth is invaluable to the Forum and a great investment. “It is very important to have youth there and to have them engage with business leaders from around the world. In Hawaii we had Indigenous business people from every continent,” said Walker. “And the youth were engaged. They worked the registration and organized the reception and got to meet every single speaker. In Saskatoon, through our youth group Eagle, we intend to raise enough funds to have 100 youth from across Canada come and get involved.”
Joshua Scott, another Atoske alumni, also attended in Hawaii and is looking forward to August. “I wanted to see how indigenous business works around the world. From what I saw, it made me impressed with how successful Indigenous business is here in Saskatchewan. I think of SIGA and Whitecap Dakota First Nation and how they help the entire community,” said Joshua, an archaeology student at the U of S.
According to Milton Tootoosis, Chair of the WIBF 2016 Committee, the delegates really benefit from having a strong youth delegation. “We know that Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing demographic in Canada. As business people, we have a responsibility to transfer our knowledge and contacts to the millennial generation. Delegates also get to meet potential future employees and do some recruiting,” said Tootoosis.
Most inspiring to Hailey and Joshua was one side of business that people don’t often think about. “What really stuck with me were these two young boys, maybe 11 years old. They had a business that was designed to give back to their community,” said Hailey. “It was really inspiring to see. I am excited to help welcome everyone to our territory and show them our ways and perform for them and meet people from across the world.”
Joshua was also impressed with corporate social responsibility. “I heard a lot of business models, and philanthropy based models to provide for community,” said Joshua. “I was awed by the Maori presenters who opened and closed their presentation with a Hakka dance. It was cool to see. I am very looking forward to volunteering in August.”
2016 World Indigenous Business Forum is expected to attract about 1,000 delegates and will be held at TCU Place from August 23-26.