'Inclusiveness is key': Conference sparks discussion on Metis economic growth
“Expanding the Circle” is a three-part series of conferences across Canada to determine how to ensure Indigenous entrepreneurism can grow and thrive.
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David Chartrand wants to make it clear that Metis people “are no longer just about fish, forests and wild rice.”
“We are working very hard contributing to the economy in ways that are considered very non-traditional, and could do more if our people had better access to things such as skills training, mentoring and investment opportunities,” said the president of the Manitoba Metis Federation during at a conference in Winnipeg that's focused on reconciliation and inclusive economic growth.
“Expanding the Circle” is a three-part series of conferences being held across Canada to determine how to ensure Indigenous entrepreneurism, specifically within the Metis community, can grow and thrive.
The first conference was held earlier this year in Ottawa, the second in Winnipeg and a third will take place in Iqaluit in June, 2018.
About 100 people gathered at the University of Winnipeg for the event. It's being sponsored by the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board (NAEDB), the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
Chartrand said the concept of Indigenous participation in the overall economy of the nation is certainly not a new one. Getting buy-in is another matter.
“Bottom line is that we need to see more being done to not just support the people who are creating the business opportunities, but to then ensure we have a skilled workforce to fill positions with qualified Indigenous employees.”
Those attending the conference included people who are interested in being part of the solution, said Marie Delorme, a professor and an NAEDB board member.
“We are lucky to have a wide variety of people here who are eager and willing to play a part in creating sustainable opportunities,” said Delorme. “Inclusiveness is key.”