Conferences

Executive Summary

Denendeh Development Corporation (DDC) is pleased with the results of the 2009 NWT Aboriginal Business Conference hosted in Yellowknife, September 22 to 24, 2009.

Attendance at the 2009 conference was up from previous years. In addition to attendance by northern community leaders and heads of First Nation corporations, community business leaders, and youth, the 2009 conference and trade show attracted numerous new delegates, media and trade show exhibitors from the NWT, Nunavut, southern Canada, and USA.

John Bekale, Senior Aboriginal Advisor, BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc., and Stephen Kakfwi, Kakfwi & Associates, co-chaired the conference that included presentations by the Conference Board of Canada, Mackenzie Aboriginal Corporation, ATCO Electric, Mackenzie Valley Aboriginal Pipeline LP, NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus, NWT Premier Floyd Roland, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency Acting Regional Director Kimberly Fairman, co-chair of Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Ron Jamieson, and RCI Capital Group.

The conference commenced with the youth workshop facilitated by Robb Campre, a Fort McKay First Nation band member, director with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, and former Edmonton Eskimos professional football player. Conway Kootenay and members of Red Power Squad presented an inspiring message to the youth, focused on helping young people understand the importance of making good choices and sacrifices to achieve their personal life goals. The workshop was attended by students from northern high schools and Aurora College.

Margaret (Margie) Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cook Inlet Region (CIRI), delivered the conference keynote address. Ms. Brown is a 1982 YWCA Woman of Achievement Award recipient and a 2007 Athena Award recipient, both awards recognizing women for their professional excellence and community service. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Oregon and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado. CIRI was established by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 to benefit 6,278 Alaska Natives who had ties to the Cook Inlet region. It started with 1.25 million acres of land entitlements and $78 million and has grown into one of Alaska's largest corporations, with more than $637 million in total assets. Over the years, CIRI has distributed almost $840 million to shareholders and created a family of nonprofit service providers that funnel millions of dollars annually into much needed social services and education programs. CIRI's widely diversified business interests include real estate and resource development, hydro-development, oilfield and construction services, Alaska tourism and out-of-state destination resorts, telecommunications and, most recently, government contracting.

Two conference highlights were the sessions Aboriginal Success Stories and Town Hall. Presenters Dennis Nelner, Manager of Nogha Enterprises Ltd.; Jake Heron, Chairman, NWT Metis-Dene Development Fund; and James Ross, Founding Director, Shehtah Drilling LP described current successes of northern Aboriginal-owned businesses established to benefit people of their region. The Town Hall panelists, Richard Nerysoo, President of the Gwich’in Tribal Council; Alex Nitsiza, Chairperson, Tlicho Investment Corporation; and Merven Gruben, Vice-President, E Gruben’s Transport Ltd. outlined their positions on cooperation and / or competition between corporations and private business operating in the same region.

Conference business development workshops offered practical business training in the areas of: Starting a Business; Reading and Understanding Financial Statements; Corporate Administration; Outreaching, Recruitment/Retention for Aboriginal Employment; and Corporate Structures.

Members from the business community, government leaders, and the public were invited to join the delegates at two evening receptions, and the Dene hand games and Dene drum dance events organized to celebrate the conference.

The conference concluded with a dinner hosted by the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the Western Arctic.

DII and DDC appreciate the tremendous support for the conference from government and corporate agencies. The list of government and corporate sponsors and their logos will remain posted to the www.denendeh.ca website. The conference organizers and co-chairs took every opportunity to acknowledge the sponsors by announcements during the conference, running a continuous power point loop displaying the sponsor logos in the main convention room, full-page colour newspaper ads, signage, on-site radio broadcasting.

Again this year, the conference was broadcast live to the NWT communities by CKLB, Native Communications Society.

For information contact:

Darrell Beaulieu
President and Chief Executive Officer
Denendeh Investments Inc.
T: (867) 920-2764
beaulieu@denendeh.ca