A conference is taking place in Saskatoon this week aiming to increase Indigenous engagement in the agribusiness sector.

The first ever Beyond the Harvest Summit, put on by the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies in partnership with Nutrien, got underway on Wednesday morning.

The summit will bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders in the agribusiness sector to discuss opportunities to support Indigenous participation.

“I think there is a significant opportunity here for the province,” said Victoria Lamb Drover, Associate Vice-President of Advancement and Operations of SIIT when speaking with MBC News about the summit.

“We have a young, growing, and thriving Indigenous population that has access to lands that have not been used for agricultural purposes in the past or are just getting into this as an endeavor,” said Drover. “It is an opportunity for true economic reconciliation that will benefit all of Saskatchewan.”

Drover says the opportunities in agriculture vary all the way from production to marketing. However, she says many barriers remain from a systemic and policy level.

While Drover was unwilling to get into policy she was referring to she is hoping some of the speakers from the conference will address those concerns.

The speakers include; Dr. Angela Bedard-Haugn – Dean of Agriculture at the U of S, Milton Greyeyes with Farm Credit Canada, and Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation.

As the summit is underway, Drover says it comes at a good time in the province to get involved in the agriculture industry.

“If you look at international trends in agriculture, Saskatchewan is in a really interesting position at the moment where we are safe, we are a good place to invest, and this is a moment that if we work together, we can really capitalize to ensure that our communities are well positioned to move forward,” she said. “And I don’t mean just economically. I mean culturally ensuring that we have sustainable practices, ensuring that we are giving back to the land for the next seven generations. And so I’m excited to be part of this conversation and to see where it goes not only this week, but as we continue this hopefully year after year.”