Erenesto Sirolli gave a rousing presentation, which brought the delegation to its feet.  Photo by Joel Willick.

The historic World indigenous Business Forum in Saskatoon officially wrapped up on Thursday and delegates have heard several excellent presentations throughout the 2-day event.

According to organizers the event has been well-received by everyone in attendance.

Milton Tootoosis says based on some of the preliminary feedback they have received from the delegates this is considered the best WIBF so far.

“We are very proud of our working committee, our sponsors and our volunteers to get us to where we are today,” said Tootoosis.

He says the sheer number of registered delegates was part of the praise with nearly 1000 delegates in attendance eclipsing the previous totals for the event. The chair of the planning committee now hopes everyone in attendance has developed contacts for any future business opportunities they may have.

“There is a lot of business cards being exchanged and they are now looking at the possibility of partnering together,” said Tootoosis. “This forum is about saving people a lot of time and getting them all here in one place.”

Throughout the 2 day-event those in attendance have heard presentations from several different groups and organizations. The day 1 recap can be found here.

Thursday’s presenters featured Alice Wong, Senior VP of Cameco who spoke on the uranium companies work with the northern Saskatchewan Indigenous community.

“We know our success…is tied to our local communities. If they are successful, we are too,” said Wong during her presentation.

Edmund Bellegarde, Tribal Chairperson for the File Hills Fort Qu’Appelle Tribal Council spoke on resourcing rights and their nation building agenda without government funds.

“We are not going to use government funding,” said Bellegarde. “This is that empowering side…this is putting our rights agenda for Indigenous people first.”

The atmosphere at the forum has remained positive with many international delegates commenting on the opportunities available to Indigenous youth in Saskatchewan.

Jorn Weines says many of the presentations have touched on these opportunities.

“There has been a big focus on the opportunities and not the challenges and how a young growing workforce can be a great opportunity for the economy,” said Weines, who has down previous work with the International Centre of Northern Governance and Development at the University of Saskatchewan.

The innovation of young Indigenous people was on display during a Young Indigenous Innovators Panel. The panel of 5 young Indigenous leaders spoke on creating a legacy for the future.

“Think about how your actions will impact the next 7 generations,” said Jack Saddleback, one of the panelists. “Think about the kind of ancestors you will be.”

One especially rousing presentation was from Ernesto Sirroli of the Sirolli Institute.

He spoke on Indigenous development and actually broke down the word development. Sirolli says development is about finding what is already there.

“Development is about nurturing, discovering what is there and nurturing,” said Sirolli. “Development is about helping your people become the beautiful people they are meant to be.”

Sirolli’s presentation was met by a standing ovation from the crowd.

With the forum now officially over the delegates can now turn their attention to the final day of the Saskatchewan World Indigenous Festival for the Arts taking place at the Delta Bessborough Gardens.