November 26, 2015 6:24 pm
Updated: November 27, 2015 9:13 am

First Nations leaders discuss economic development in Saskatoon

WATCH ABOVE: Opportunities abound for aboriginal economic development across the country. Ryan Kessler focuses on the reasons behind one First Nations’ success which sets itself as an example to all.


SASKATOON – Aboriginal business leaders gathered at TCU Place to share expertise and success stories related to economic development corporations in First Nations communities. The corporations are the arm of local government responsible for creating and attracting business in an area.

Chief Darcy Bear of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation offered Thursday morning’s keynote address.

“We want jobs and opportunities like any other Canadian citizen,” Bear said.

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In 2004, Whitecap signed on for the federal government’s Land Management Act, allowing the community to lease and tax land. It also permitted infrastructure investments in things like roads, sewers and street lights.

Since that time, unemployment in Whitecap has shrunk from 70 per cent to just five per cent now, according to Bear.

“There’s no better role model for our children than to see mom and dad go to work on a daily basis. You can see the pride,” Bear said.

Legislative changes striking down restrictive sections of the Indian Act have also led to greater autonomy and prosperity for Canada’s First Nations, according to Clint Davis, vice-president of aboriginal banking at TD Bank.

“The size of the economy is expected to be, for next year, $30 billion. The driver of that is business and it’s economic development corporations, which is fantastic,” Davis said.

A growing, young indigenous workforce is quickly becoming the target of post-secondary business programs, he adds.

“The next big thing is the wave of young people that are going to take control of leadership in this space and be successful,” Davis said.

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