Saskatoon excited to share Indigenous business success at international conference
- Andréa Ledding | August 18, 2016
For three days next week (August 23 to 25), 1,000 business leaders from around the world will convene in Saskatoon for the 7th World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF), it’s first time in North America since the inaugural forums in New York City. Since then, it’s been held in Australia, Africa, Guatemala, and Hawaii. And WIBF is giving Saskatoon a gift: SWIFFA, the Saskatchewan World Indigenous Festival For the Arts.
“It’s the first of it’s kind in Canada. To be global and to have the quality of speakers we have is unprecedented, Indigenous people from all over the world,” noted Milton Tootoosis, Chairperson of the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network and Chair of the WIBF planning committee. “Our legacy is to leave behind SWIFFA, the music festival, the first of its magnitude in the beautiful Delta Bessborough Gardens, and secondly a fund to help Indigenous youth entrepreneurs.”
- WIBF youth committee gearing up for next week's conference
- World Indigenous conference brings business leaders to Saskatoon
- Indigenous music festival takes centre stage
Because of the permanent legacy, he described it as so much more than a conference, with the music festival piggybacking off the Wanuskewin pow-wow, and a golf tournament on Monday.
“We’ve got Indigenous artists from different genres, different areas throughout the planet, performing,” noted Curtis Standing, SWIFFA’s lead organizer, adding that 1000 tickets have already been spoken for. “There’s so much great talent out there, and Indigenous artists affect so many genres of music — pop, hip-hop, country, rock’n’roll — so we worked to represent everybody. We’ve got some strong main acts.”
Featuring youth and local acts first from 3-5, it will also feature traditional cultural acts before major feature acts from around the world. Standing stated many charities will be receiving the proceeds, including support of advocacy for MMIW&G.
Gilles Dorval, Director of Aboriginal Relations for the City of Saskatoon, noted that with Saskatoon’s presence of Indigenous entrepreneurs and government partnerships at all levels, Saskatoon was the perfect WIBF host.
“Saskatoon is one of the first cities in North America to designate city property to First Nations land; we are excited to share these successes with business leaders from around the world,” said Dorval.
Tootoosis agreed, adding the international forum will benefit the local and regional business scene because strategic alliances and global partnerships are formed, based on shared views on what Indigenous business means.
“We advocate sustainable community economic development from an Indigenous perspective, and that means development that respects people and the environment. Because our people believe that they had a system for hundreds and thousands of years. Capitalism and industrialism made a few rich but left so many in the dark, at the opposite end of that model,” said Tootoosis, noting that in light of oil spills in the water and other environmental issues, it was really timely to be holding this summit. “Five years ago, scientists were saying that the big crisis worldwide is that we’re running out of arable land and potable water. Sustainable development solves that problem because the emphasis is on sustainability.
“Kudos to the numerous volunteers who made it happen from the First Nation, Métis and non-Indigenous communities. It’s going to be an incredible week, I look forward to it.”