iSummit carries on success

By Geoff Lee

October 18, 2016 8:21 AM

OPPORTUNITIES Keynote speaker, Clint Davis, a partner of Acasta Capital Indigenous in Toronto, spoke about economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples at the 2016 iSummit at the Lloydminster Exhiibition Grounds on Oct. 13

Shows business collaborations between Indigenous and non Indeginous works

This year’s drum beat for the Seekaskootch Dancers from Onion Lake who kicked off the 4th annual Indigenous Economic Partnership Summit set the right celebratory tone.
Economic partnerships between Indigenous and non Indigenous businesses are beginning to show some positive results from previous connections.
“This is a very powerful summit because the relationships that were started in the first summit four years ago are now flourishing,” said Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders.
“Some of the initiatives that you see in our own community through partnerships with indigenous economic activity is being realized.”
The agenda of the 2016 iSummit held at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds on Oct. 13 included an update of the Lloydminster casino project that is moving forward with multiple partners.
Evan Schemenauer, CEO of Little Pine Developments, an arm of Border Tribal Council that will own the buildings, told the audience the first phase Petro Canada gas bar is due to open Jan. 1, 2017.
The exterior of the casino is expected to be completed by May, 2017.
The casino project update fit the human resources and employment theme of the iSummit.
The development will create about 140 full time jobs for Indigenous and non Indigenous people in the area.
“It’s very good news for us,” said Jeff Ross, CEO of Onion Lake Business Development Corporation who was a panel member on HR and employment
“Obviously, for the town of Lloydminster and the surrounding area, the news hasn’t been good the last 16 months due to the price of oil.
“We are looking at trying to diversify into other areas.”
Ross heads up eight businesses at Onion Lake, four of which provide direct services to the oilfield and four that provide indirect services.
“Obviously, this last year and a half has taught us and other companies, if you want to be a one commodity company, when times are tough it’s going to hurt you,” he said.
“In our case, oil is our biggest business, but we also don’t want to make it the largest percentage of our revenue.”
Ross also acted as a moderator for a panel discussion on how to start your own business and spoke about his expectations for the group.
“I guess what I’m really hoping for is, a lot of young people who come to a conference like this can see the benefits of starting their own business,” said Ross.
“It’s not an easy process — at the end of the day a lot of people want to be their own boss.”
He said the iSummit is an opportunity to find a network of people who have started their own business and learn from their trials and tribulations.
The iSummit also attracted some high profile Indigenous leaders from right across Canada including Clint Davis, a partner and managing director of Acasta Capital Indigenous based in Toronto.
“I actually want to talk about what I see as a remarkable opportunity for Indigenous business across the country looking at the size of the Indigenous market which is expected to be about $30 billion this year,” said Davis one of the keynote speakers.
He said he would also share his own experience as chair of the board of directors for the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies.
That’s the economic arm of the Nunatsiavut Government in Labrador that was the last land claim to be settled in Canada.
Shelley Wiart, the founder of Mighty Warriors was also on hand checking out the opportunities for networking.
“I’m really excited because it’s a great place for people to connect and for indigenous and non indigenous businesses to have partnerships,” she said.
“So I’m looking forward to meeting new people and also helping people to connect with each other.”
Wiart also promoted her own Rise Up Mighty Warriors event Oct. 13-14 at Lakeland College and the Days Inn & Suites.
The two day event was aimed at family violence prevention and awareness held in collaboration with the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre

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