Saskatoon hosts country’s largest gathering of financial officers
- NC Raine | October 14, 2019
More than 900 Indigenous leaders in finance, government, and community building around the country are meeting in Saskatoon this week for the 20th Aboriginal Financial Officers Association (AFOA) Canada National Conference. The conference, according to organizers, is the largest annual conference in Canada.
“We build bridges between Indigenous communities and corporate Canada, (as well as) educational institutions, government, charities, non-profits, and internationally,” said Terry Goodtrack, President and CEO of AFOA.
“We need to ensure we attract as many like-minded companies and organizations to our conference at the national and regional levels, and make them feel part of a greater goal. A more inclusive Canada where we share economic and social benefits,” he said.
This year, the conference is centred around managing community through disruptions - be they external pressures such as natural disasters, family and health issues, or internal pressures such as changing workforce demographics. This week, attendees will hear how disruptions force difficult questions to be answered, but also how they may provide new insights to leaders.
“Clearly understanding the implication of available options can support management and leadership in choosing a path forward that aligns with the community's priorities,” said Lynnette Crowe, conference committee co-chair.
Disruptions are a constant, said Bill Namagoose, Grand Council of the Crees Executive Director, who spoke on his experiences adapting and learning from disruption.
“We can manage disruption or it can manage us. Disruption can be harnessed for greater good,” he said. “Our experience has taught us that Cree unity, patience, planning, and willingness to play the long game is critical in this process.”
For twenty years, AFOA have been helping Indigenous people better manage their communities and organizations through finance and management skills. They are the only organization in Canada that focuses on the capacity development and needs of Indigenous professionals who are working in all areas of finance and management.
“Judging by the success of the AFOA conferences (...) I am confident that AFOA is filling its mandate of really advancing the interests of financial officers and administration officers across the country,” said Keith Martell, CEO of First Nations Bank of Canada.
Martell, who has long been participating in the conference as both attendant and sponsor, spoke on the immeasurable benefit an assembly like this can have.
“AFOA accomplishes this goal of bringing many people together to understand that the issue and challenges that you face are also faced by many others in the same situation,” he said. “And that often the situations you seek are the solutions that others have already achieved. I think that's the most valuable thing.”