Indigenous Economic Development Week is winding down, but the plans from it remain ongoing. The week was declared in Saskatchewan coinciding with International Economic Development Week.
Entrepreneurs, whether they need help for a food truck or setting a solar generation facility, are benefiting from supports available from groups like the Saskatchewan Indigenous Economic Development Network, or SIEDN.
Milton Tootoosis is the chair for SIEDN. He says they can provide supporting data to help promote community economic development, but a big problem remains start up dollars.
“Number one is access to capital. An individual or a community may have a great idea. It might be even feasible, but they often lack the start up capital. We try and inform the [economic development officers] in the community as to how they can access different forms of capital through different means.”
Tootoosis says SIEDN has some primary pillars which guide their work. These are advocacy and research, communications, and building capacity. They have taken their work online in the last year as they offer support especially to the economic development officers who develop policy.
“That has been the focus and we hope to get our resources and information to the economic development officers who work in the communities, to take that information and to help them advance their goals and objectives.”
Tootoosis said some communities may want information about tourism and they have a network of resources across the country to support that endeavour.
“We have a very broad network of topic experts. If they want information about tourism, I can send them to Christian Boyle who sits on our board. He is a tourism consultant and has access to all kinds of data. he has a broader network than I do.”
Another project that is coming on is raising bison for cultural and commercial interests. Tootoosis says they are connected to the Canadian Bison Association as well as with the Agriculture Ministry as they build capacity and direct communities to where the data to support their economic goals.
The Saskatchewan Indigenous Economic Development Network will be holding an Indigenous Land Development forum online on June 2nd. More information can be found on the SIEDN website.
International Economic Development Week was first observed in 2016. The International Economic Development Council holds the observance to “increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities, and improve the quality of life in communities everywhere.”