The 2008 NWT Aboriginal Business Conference “Establishing Economic Cooperation”, hosted by Denendeh Development Corporation (DDC), in partnership with our conference sponsors, was held October 14-16, 2008. This annual conference provides common ground for industry, governments and organizations to advance their collective economic development interests. Conference co-chairs were John Bekale, Chair of Denendeh Development Corporation and Senior Aboriginal Advisor for BHP Ekati Diamond Mine and Brenda Chambers, independent producer and broadcaster, and President of Brenco Media Inc.
DDC and DII gratefully acknowledge the tremendous corporate support for the 2008 NWT Aboriginal Business Conference. The list of corporate sponsors is posted on the sponsorship & partners page.
Two-hundred delegates representing an international delegation of leading aboriginal, northern and southern industry leaders, senior-level executives, NWT Chiefs, youth and government leaders attended the 2008 conference.
The conference started with the “Preparing to Participate” Youth Workshop facilitated by Robb Campre of Maskwa Consulting. Youth from across the NWT were treated to motivational addresses from Dakota House, actor and youth role model, and Calvin Helin, author of “Dances With Dependency”.
During the opening reception guests were treated to cultural performances by the Tlicho Dene Drummers, Inuvik (Inuvialuit) Drummers and Dancers, Métis fiddle sensation Lee Mandeville, and Métis youth dancers Peter and Cheyanna Fraser.
Yellowknives Dene First Nations Chief Edward Sangris and Chief Fred Sangris welcomed delegates to Akaitcho DeneTraditional Territory, and encouraged participants to explore relationships that advance economic development. Yellowknife Mayor Gordon Van Tighem added, “Canada’s North is Canada’s future! This is one conference that gets better each year.”
The keynote address was delivered by Renée Goldtooth, Manager of Leadership and Management Programs, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona. Renée shared inspirational experiences that are revitalizing the cultural traditional leadership practices of the Dine peoples of Arizona. She used video technology to share first hand experiences of Dine youth actively engaging traditional and contemporary leadership practices.
Calvin Helin, author, businessman and lawyer presented an informative overview of the current state of Aboriginal affairs in Canada. He used the messages from his book, “Dances With Dependency,” to explain how Aboriginal peoples across Canada were systematically taken from full self-sufficiency and independence to the dependency relationship that was created by federal policy. He talked about what it will take to restore the respectful relationship of self-reliance and cooperation.
Actor, humanitarian and businessman Tom Jackson delivered a passionate presentation encouraging people to engage economic cooperation as a base for advancing First Nations and Canada’s interests and holistic community development.
Catherine Twinn, lawyer with the Sawridge First Nation, Treaty 8 told the story of her peoples’ success in engaging economic development. From hotels to a diverse range of business initiatives, the Sawridge First Nations are leading the way in creating beneficial economic development opportunities for their people and Canadians.
Keith Martell, Chairman, First Nations Bank of Canada talked about their success. From its founding in 1996 this unique aboriginal financial institution now has over nine-thousand customer accounts, branches in Saskatoon, Chisasibi, Walpole Island, Winnipeg, Whitehorse and one opening in Meadow Lake in 2008. First Nations Bank of Canada is owned by “like-minded” groups of Aboriginal shareholders from across Canada, including the Gwich’in Development Corporation.
Ed Shultz, Executive Director, Council of Yukon First Nations talked about the renewable resources economy, current successes in the Yukon and the importance of cooperation.
Honorable Robert McLeod, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment spoke about the growing track record of Aboriginal partnerships that are helping to build the economic foundations of the North’s future. Trish Merrithew-Mercredi, Regional Director General, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada spoke to the delegation about the Federal Government northern economic strategy and encouraged people to continue holding dialogues and forums such as this conference.
Aboriginal Pipeline Group LP, President Bob Reid provided an update on the APG’s business initiative to own a portion of the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline. Mr. Reid talked about challenges which include a long regulatory process, current market demand and other factors affecting commencement of pipeline construction.
The Northern Aboriginal Business Association (NABA) conducted their second Annual General Meeting in conjunction with the conference, and hosted a well-attended “business after hours”. Premier Floyd Roland spoke during the reception and encouraged all to continue in the spirit of economic cooperation. Premier Roland shared his experiences as a former owner of a small tourism business and reflected on how this helped him to understand the strong work ethic and commitment required to establish a successful business.
There were many other fine speakers. Senior representatives from each of the Diamond mines operating in the NWT, along with I&D Management Services, talked about human resource requirements and community sustainability in the current labor market. Speakers experienced in mining exploration spoke about aboriginal people’s involvement and community participation, and top industry executives presented their views and innovative approaches to business development in today’s northern economy.
Three business development workshops took place on both days of the conference:
- Financing Your Business, Pawan Chugh, Chief Executive Officer, NWT Business Development and Investment Corporation
- Reading and Understanding Financial Statements (Acid Test), Michael Odell, FCA, Tlicho Investments Corporation
- Starting a Business, Raymond St. Arnaud, General Manager, Akaitcho Business Development Corporation
For the first time, the conference included a unique “Town Hall” interactive discussion addressing the myriad of northern aboriginal business policies, developed and put into effect by governments, industry, First Nations, Métis, Inuvialuit and Inuit corporations and their affects on business in the North. Town Hall panelists included Charlie Lyall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kitikmeot Corporation; Bertha Rabesca Zoe, Legal Counsel, Tlicho Government and Advisor for Tlicho Investment Corporation; Danny Gaudet, President, Deline Construction Ltd.; and, Richard Nerysoo, President of the Gwich’in Tribal Council. These panelists provided a rare insight on internal policy development and pros and cons of other policies that affect them. George Tuccaro, well-known radio broadcaster, moderated this session.
Exhibitors at the conference trade show maximized the opportunity for wide exposure to target markets and new business opportunities. Coffee breaks and social gatherings were held in the trade show area.
Also during the conference, there was a major announcement and MOU signing between Canada Zinc Corporation and the Lidlii Kue First Nation of Fort Simpson regarding the proposed Prairie Creek Mine project. Chief Kenya Norwegian spoke to delegates about the importance of engaging economic opportunities.
Community members joined the conference delegates in a celebration of Dene culture at the hand games and drum dance events held both evenings during the conference. On the last evening, the conference venue was turned over to the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the Western Arctic to hold their annual Awards Dinner.
All people in the northern communities were tuned in to live radio and internet broadcasting of the conference plenary and social sessions, hosted by CKLB (Native Communications Society of the Northwest Territories).
Denendeh Development Corporation (DDC) is a not-for-profit agency formed by the Dene leadership in 1982. Its vision is to act as a vehicle for the Dene regions to cooperate in viable socio-economic endeavours, with a mandate to strengthen economic viability of the Dene through investments and education; foster employment, growth and career development in the communities; and provide economic and business information.
Denendeh Devzelopment Corporation (DDC) invites you to register for the 2008 NWT Aboriginal Business Conference to be held in Yellowknife, October 14 to 16, 2008. Early registration for the conference and/or trade show is encouraged. Seating at the conference and hotel accommodation is limited.
The NWT Aboriginal Business Conference is a prime opportunity to network, examine, and build industrial capacity to meet and benefit from world markets. The agenda is designed around the theme of “Establishing Economic Cooperation”. Conference delegates will learn about business opportunities from expert business leaders presenting information in plenary and workshop settings.
Dr. Manley A. Begay Jr., Director, Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy in the Udall Centre for Studies in Public Policy, and senior lecturer/associate social scientist in the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Arizona is the conference keynote speaker.
Conference sessions will commence on Tuesday, October 14 with a pre-conference youth workshop, “Preparing to Participate”. Calvin Helin, author of “Dances with Dependency”, and actor/youth role model Dakota House, are guest speakers for the youth workshop.
The 2008 conference will include in-depth, informative presentations in plenary and workshop sessions. A few of the 2008 conference topics include: Renewable Resources and Tourism; First Nations’ Housing; Mining; Oil and Gas Exploration; Human Resources and Community Sustainability; and Partnering. New on the agenda this year is a Town Hall addressing the topic of “Aboriginal Business Policy”. This is an opportunity to participate in an hour-long discussion on policy issues and business challenges ahead unique to doing business in the North.
The 2008 trade show will maximize exposure to target markets and new business opportunities.
DDC expects a national delegation of two-hundred and fifty delegates, representing aboriginal, northern and southern business people, industry, regional and community corporations, and youth to attend the 2008 conference.
Conference registrants are invited to take advantage of the Early Bird reduced conference registration fee by registering before September 1, 2008. The conference registration deadline is September 28, 2008. Late registrations will be accepted if space allows.Conference Overview
For information contact: