Indigenous Economic Development Conference
To introduce Indigenous youth to Indigenous economic development and to build interest in careers in business, finance, and accounting, CPABC was pleased to sponsor eight young people to attend the Indigenous Economic Development Conference from March 7-9, 2023. The conference, which is hosted annually by AFOA BC, took place at the River Rock Resort and Casino in Richmond.
Indigenous youth aged 14-18 from across BC were invited to apply for sponsorship from CPABC, which was offered through its Indigenous Gathering on Pathways in Business initiative. The attendees, who were accompanied by chaperones also participating in the conference, were from the Haida Nation, Heiltsuk First Nation, and Hupacasath First Nation.
A pre-conference workshop was held on March 7. It was followed by two full days of sessions on March 8 and 9 on topics including business readiness, Indigenous procurement, nation-led real estate development, and much more.
Activities and sessions specifically for youth were featured throughout the conference. These included Financial Fitness Foundations, a session focused on building financial literacy knowledge and designed to be youth focused, youth friendly, and interactive. Participation was also high during the session Sharing the Journey: Creating a Brighter Future for Indigenous Youth, during which attendees took the opportunity to engage the presenter and ask questions pertinent to their future. The conference also included a fun social for young attendees at Extreme Air Park Richmond, Canada’s largest trampoline park.
The conference proved to be a valuable opportunity for learning and engaging. Said Jeraldine Marshall, a conference attendee and parent of one of the young participants, “It was great to see the youth break out of their comfort zones and contribute to the conversation on Indigenous economic development – in group settings and with other participants and vendors. They listened, questioned, and were heard.” She continued, “Many youth want to have a voice but don’t necessarily have the opportunity to use it and thus don’t feel heard. This event contributed to their lived experience and encouraged their sense of self.”
At the end of the conference the young people were celebrated with a blanket ceremony to acknowledge them for attending the conference and participating throughout, and to uplift them on their educational and career paths.
Here’s what attendees had to say
What does Indigenous economic development mean to you?
It’s important to quality of life and it improves the well-being of the entire community. It can also lead to more job variety by creating new businesses.
Indigenous economic development means a lot to me because if we focus on the development of our communities it creates a better future for our next generation.
Indigenous economic development needs to be taught to all ages, especially youth because they have a large impact on what happens in the world. What I learned at the conference will influence what I do in the future and that will also impact Indigenous economic development. More people need to learn about Indigenous economics because it’s very important to the Canadian economy – Indigenous businesses contribute a large chunk of the Canadian economy. It’s also important because it generates jobs, businesses, skills, and opportunities.