Bridging the gap in economic reconciliation was at the forefront of a conference held in Saskatoon on Monday.
The business development event brought Saskatchewan businesses, educational institutions and Indigenous communities together as another step towards reconciliation.
Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said he started the day with a stack of business cards but by the end, he had few left.
“The whole goal of today is to walk away with more understanding, more friends more, more partners, more potential partners,” he said.
Bridging the economic gap through business development is one of the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear said the conference, held on Treaty Six territory, was a chance for First Nations communities to let industry leaders know they’re open for business.
“We want that same right as any other Canadian citizen,” he said.
“The opportunity for education and having employment and providing for our families. Many of us have been trailblazing and creating partnerships with industry and educating financial institutions that you can do business on reserve lands.”
Bear explained business and resource development were at the forefront of discussion along with education.
“The Bank of Montreal does over a million dollars of Indigenous business without one default,” he said.
“We also talk about the education institutions and their role and the University of Saskatchewan, Sask Polytech, SIIT and getting our people ready for the economy with jobs and opportunities.”
The Saskatchewan launch of the film Economic Reconciliation was also shown at the Bridging Economic Reconciliation conference. It featured an economically self-sustaining community with financially independent members and it is the first film to be produced about the economic reconciliation in Canada.