Advertisement

Hundreds attend Sask. Indigenous business conference

The Indigenous Business Gathering drew more than 700 participants to Saskatoon's Prairieland Park on Tuesday. (Jason Warick/CBC - image credit)
The Indigenous Business Gathering drew more than 700 participants to Saskatoon's Prairieland Park on Tuesday. (Jason Warick/CBC - image credit)

A conference for Indigenous business owners is exploding in popularity.

More than 700 participants attended the Indigenous Business Gathering at Saskatoon's Prairieland Park Tuesday. When the annual event began three years ago, fewer than 200 people participated.

Métis Nation-Saskatchewan President Glen McCallum said he felt a lot of pride as he walked past dozens of booths promoting Indigenous businesses.

"It's really nice to be in a room full of entrepreneurs from across the province and see for ourselves the contribution they make to the well-being of Saskatchewan," McCallum said.

One of those booths was occupied by officials from Pasqua First Nation Group of Companies. CEO Richard Missens, who has been working in academia and Indigenous business circles for decades, said he's amazed by the recent growth.

"It's pretty exciting just to see the variety, the depth and the diversity of the businesses that are here. It's an eye-opener for everybody that attends. Great event," Missens said.

Missens said their company is investing in metal fabrication, food, agriculture and other sectors.

Pasqua First Nation Group of Companies executive assistant Roberta Soo-Oyewaste and CEO Richard Missens said Tuesday's conference in Saskatoon is a great showcase of Indigenous businesses like theirs.
Pasqua First Nation Group of Companies executive assistant Roberta Soo-Oyewaste and CEO Richard Missens said Tuesday's conference in Saskatoon is a great showcase of Indigenous businesses like theirs.

Pasqua First Nation Group of Companies executive assistant Roberta Soo-Oyewaste and CEO Richard Missens said Tuesday's conference in Saskatoon is a great showcase of Indigenous businesses like theirs. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Missens and others say the conference is an invaluable chance to network and find new markets.

Premier Scott Moe was also there and said Indigenous economic development is about more than job numbers.

"I think the trend is towards direct investment by Indigenous-owned companies, Indigenous communities.… You're seeing consultants, all sorts of various professional services being provided by Indigenous-owned companies for example," Moe said.

Moe, Missens and McCallum all said a thriving Indigenous businesses sector is good for everyone.

The businesses attending the conference covered all sectors, from mining to food to manufacturing.