A major economic conference kicked off in Saskatoon Tuesday morning.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear is one of the co-chairs of Saskatchewan Forum 2013.

He says First Nations people have always wanted to be part of the economy but regressive pieces of legislation, such as the Indian Act, have held them back.

“But if you look at the Indian Act, the Indian Act was a piece of legislation that was never created for us to be a part of the economy,” he says. “It was meant to segregate us from society and keep us out of sight, out of mind, while everyone else had the opportunity to build the economies around them.”

The two-day forum is hosted by the Conference Board of Canada.