Youth develop business, entrepreneurship ideas at First Nations University of Canada annual camp

Business entrepreneurship ideas and teachings will be flowing all week at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) during its annual youth entrepreneurship camp.

Jason Bird is a business and administration lecturer at FNUniv and the co-ordinator of the program.

He says the camp has students between 15 and 19 years of age learning the concepts and ideas of entrepreneurship and business as a potential career choice and area of study.

“We want to give this idea to students that you can do business in a kinder, friendly, gentler way. You can do business in an Indigenous way,” Bird says. “You don’t have to be cutthroat.”

Bird says students from across Canada will learn how to work on their career while also keeping their traditional and personal values in mind for their ideas and businesses. Over the next week, the camp will go over things like planning, marketing, finance and accounting.

“We’re just trying to give the youth exposure. This is an avenue for them and a lot of students will go for social work, health, nursing,” he says.

“They’ll go for areas where [they’re] directly helping people, and that’s where Indigenous people are at our heart. That’s where we generally fall in.”

Aiden Akan-Kinistino is from Ocapowace First Nation and is starting his business administration degree at the FNUniv in the fall. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Aiden Akan-Kinistino, 18, is from Ochapowace First Nation and is living in Regina. This is his second year in the camp as he prepares for his studies at FNUniv in business administration in the fall.

“A lot of the stuff we’re doing is going to be going toward what I want to do in business,” Akan-Kinistino says.

As for his business idea, he says over the last few years he has been developing an idea about a fashion design company.

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His idea is based around clothing, like shirts, pants, hats and sweaters, that feature and showcase the work of Indigenous designers.

“I definitely would make things that aren’t just screen-printed logos,” Akan-Kinisitino

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2nd annual Indigenous Business Gathering in Saskatoon connects over 80 companies

The Government of Saskatchewan hosted the second annual Indigenous Business Gathering on Tuesday. The event at Prairieland Park brought over 500 people from Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses together to discuss collaborations and partnerships.

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The event hosted more than 80 mostly Indigenous businesses, all seeking to connect with others. It was the largest Indigenous economic development event in the entire province of Saskatchewan. The number of participants this year doubled compared to the previous edition.

Matt Smith, CEO of the Saskatchewan Indigenous Investment Finance Corp., a government organization that invests in Indigenous businesses, is pleased with the growth.

“The event grew out of a desire of Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses to have more partnership opportunities in procurement, supply chain or joint ventures. It is all part of economic reconciliation.”

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He added that the previous edition was very positively received by participants.

Plato Technologies’ Krista Sali was excited about the connections she was able to make during the event.

“It is a really good chance for us to network with other companies and find new clients this way. Talking to other Indigenous businesses is so helpful, because we can find synergies or ways to work together and help each other.”

Sali said she joined Plato Technologies because its social mission appealed to her. “Plato really helps Indigenous people find their way to IT careers. Through training programs, we find and recruit Indigenous employees into the world of IT.”

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The event is part of the province’s plan action to increase Indigenous participation in the economy of Saskatchewan.

Several multinational companies, like Enbridge and BHP, also attended.

Kim Brennies, the director for community and Indigenous engagement with energy transport company Enbridge, said he sees the event as a great opportunity to strengthen relationships with Indigenous groups.

“We are dedicated to having Indigenous partners fully participate on all our projects. To achieve that, we do extensive consultations with local Indigenous groups wherever we operate. We try to go the extra step by making Indigenous communities into partners in the assets where we operate.”

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