Workshop Descriptions & Speakers

This page is being updated regularly as speakers and panelists are finalized.

"Economic Impact of Economic Development Officers in Indigenous Communities in Canada"

Brian Barge, The Evidence Network Inc.

For every $1.00 invested in the salaries of Economic Development Officers in Indigenous Communities in Canada, we estimate there is $4.40 contributed to Canada’s GDP. This economic impact work is a follow-up to a previously-reported impact assessment conducted on behalf of Cando (reported at the 2018 National Annual Conference), that identified the impact of EDOs on the individuals, companies, and communities they serve, in terms of improving the skills, knowledge, and ultimately business performance of these groups. We first present findings regarding the impact of EDOs aggregated across individual, company, and community survey respondents in terms of impact on changes to their annual revenues, employment, and investments received.   Secondly, we present our findings regarding impacts of the EDOs on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Canada, through their provision of support to clients, and through impact on the business activities of their supported clients. The results of the aggregated impact analysis show that since 2001, EDOs in Indigenous communities across Canada have impacted their clients’ increases in annual revenues by an aggregated amount totaling $51 million; employment by the creation of 1,380 jobs, and investments-received by an aggregated amount totaling $130 million. The results of the GDP analysis show that EDOs in Indigenous communities across Canada are estimated to have made total impacts of $618 million to the GDP of Canada; $301 million in direct contributions; $153 million in indirect contributions, and $164 million in induced contributions. Using the $618 million in total impacts on GDP, the return on investment (ROI) for the $142 million invested in the salaries of EDOs in Indigenous communities is 4.4; that is, for every $1 invested in the salaries of EDOs, there is $4.40 contributed to Canada’s GDP.

Brian Barge is co-founder and CEO of The Evidence Network Inc. (TEN). TEN is an authority in assessment of the impact of organizations supporting business, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, having conducted over 100 evaluations in 12 countries. His contributions to impact assessments and evaluations of innovation-enabling organizations result from experiences he gained leading, managing, and directing innovation intermediaries operating across diverse sectors, including those responsible for research and technology development, health research, high performance computing, incubators and accelerators, research park administration, and regional economic development. Often in a global context, Dr. Barge has forged numerous innovative initiatives among universities, industries, and governments that have stimulated the formation and growth of countless firms. Over his career, Brian has served as President & CEO of three leading innovation intermediaries in Canada. He led CMC Microsystems (2000-2007) in its provision of advanced tools, technologies, and services for microsystems research and innovation at universities across Canada, the Ottawa Economic Development Corporation (1996-2000) in support of the growth of Ottawa’s economy, and the Alberta Research Council (1991-1996) in the development and commercialization of technology.


"Understanding the Roles and Contributions of CEDOs Serving Indigenous Communities Across Canada"

Hal Timar, IQ Solutions Group Inc.

A presentation on the results of a study on CEDOs serving indigenous communities across Canada including the make up of those CEDOs (by age, salary, community size, how they are funded and other factors), their economic development activities (including how much time they spend on various activities), how their activities are perceived within their communities and recommendations on how to improve their impact.

Hal Timar has a B.A. in Business Administration and Enterprise Development and has been a professional consultant for over 20 years, providing business and other consulting services internationally to a wide range of clients. He has also spent over 20 years in Nunavut as the Executive Director for a regional Chamber of Commerce, as the Executive Director for the Nunavut Economic Developers Association, as a hotel manager and providing consulting services to Nunavummiut. During his time in Nunavut he developed a strong understanding of the challenges that face indigenous people in the development of small businesses as well as their local economies and was able to develop projects and programs to support those efforts in the hopes of improving their lives. As the Executive Director of both the Chamber of Commerce and the Nunavut Economic Developers Association, he secured millions of dollars in federal and territorial funding and corporate partnerships to help achieve the associations’ mandates. His efforts also led to the creation of the Northern Lights Tradeshow and Conference, the steady growth of the Nunavut Tradeshow over 8 years and the development of successful Economic Developer’s conferences for Nunavut’s EDOs. Over the years, Hal has also served on various boards in various capacities including as a Board member for the Cando from 2014-2018; Board Member on the Tourism Task Force; Treasurer for the Nunavut Arts & Crafts Association; Vice President/Treasurer for the Nunavut Economic Forum; President/Treasurer and Secretary for Nunavut Film; President of the Tourism Training Group and Chairman for Tourism Careers for Youth Committee. He currently serves on the board of the Pinnguaq Association.


"FNQLEDC : the Heart of Socioeconomic Development for Our Nations in Quebec"

Steve Laveau, First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission

During this presentation, Steve will talk about the history of the organisation, what they do, how the organisation has evolved over the years, etc.  Their services, their advisors… Different projects and accomplishments of the last year and a couple of examples of their involvement and participation in different community events across the province of Quebec will be highlighted.

Steve Laveau has more than 22 years of experience working with major financial institutions. Steve is a member of the Huron-Wendat Nation and is always willing to listen to people while taking the time to understand their needs. Steve holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance from the Université Laval. During the first eight years of his career he was in the area in the Aboriginal tourism. Over the years, he has gained experience with a wide range of clientele, including entrepreneurs and professionals. This experience has allowed him to accompany First Nations stakeholders in their economic development needs.


"Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan"

Glenn Mason, Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands & Minerals Sector, Natural Resources Canada

Glenn Mason was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Minerals Sector (LMS), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) in December 2017. Glenn joined NRCan in 2011, as Director General of the Policy, Economics and Industry Branch of the Canadian Forest Service (CFS). In March 2014, Glenn was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister of the CFS. Prior to that, he was Director of Strategic Operations for the Social Development Policy Secretariat in the Privy Council Office (PCO), where he was responsible for supporting the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet, and the health, aboriginal and justice/public safety portfolios, which earned him the Clerk's Award for Policy Excellence. Before joining PCO, Glenn was the Director of Strategy at Human Resources Development Canada. Previously, he worked at PCO Intergovernmental Affairs, covering western Canada and NWT. In the 1990s, Glenn worked at Transport Canada on governance and commercialisation reforms within the domestic marine sector. Glenn later worked for three years at the Ministry of Finance in Georgetown, Guyana, implementing budgeting reforms to enhance their national financial management system. Glenn holds a M.A. in Development Economics from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, a B.A. (Hons) in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario, and a Diploma in economic history from the London School of Economics, and is a graduate of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.


"Supporting Financial Management and Administrative Governance in Indigenous Communities"

Philippe Forest, First Nations Financial Management Board

Phil’s presentation will give an overview of the First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB), a first nations-led nonprofit that supports Nations towards in building sound finance and administrative governance practices. The FMB was created under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act (FMA), an act that enables First Nations to break free from many of the restrictions of the Indian Act and support higher standards of community well-being. FMB’s standards are based on International Accounting best practices and COSO (Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission Internal Control) Integrated Framework and adapted to meet the unique needs of First Nations governments. The FMB also assists First Nations governments in building fiscal capacity. As part of his presentation, Phil will highlight how numerous First Nations have achieved desired self-sufficiency by introducing strong financial management systems through working with the FMB.

Philippe (Phil) Forest is a member of the Peguis First Nation, the largest First Nations community in Manitoba. He studied Business Administration at the University of Trois-Rivieres after obtaining his college diploma in Law and Security Administration in Ottawa. Phil is fluent in both English and French. He is the Manager of Business Development (East) at the FMB where he supports First Nations in the development of sound finance and governance practices.


Do I have a deal for you…

Deborah Taylor - First Nations Market Housing Fund
Jennifer Martin, CIM, CAPA - Membertou First Nation

New and exciting opportunities come to First Nations every day. Some arise from within our communities; others are advanced by external forces. Undoubtedly they are always presented as “in our best interests” - but is that really true? Evaluating the opportunities is easier from a position of strength – visionary leadership, strong governance, qualified staff, informed citizens – but how do we get there? In this session you will hear about the systems and practices one community has put in place to become stronger and weed through those “opportunities” across all lines of business. They will share what they have learned from both their missteps and successes, including their longstanding partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund.

Jennifer Martin is a band member, resident and employee of Membertou. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University College of Cape Breton (Cape Breton University). In 2017, Jennifer earned her Certified Aboriginal Professional Administrator (CAPA) designation from AFOA Canada and completed the Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities program at Harvard Business School. Jennifer started working with Membertou in 2003 in the Finance Department. Since 2006, she has held the position of Policy Coordinator and oversees all policy development and maintenance for Membertou. Jennifer chairs the Policy Review Committee and Housing Advisory Committee for Membertou. Jennifer is a member of: Cape Breton Partnership Board of Directors, Cape Breton Regional Enterprise Network Board of Directors, AFOA Atlantic Board of Directors, Micmacs of Gesgapegiag Finance and Audit Committee, Membertou Governance Committee and Membertou Finance and Audit Committee.

Deborah Taylor is the Executive Director of the First Nations Market Housing Fund, a position she has held since the Fund was opened in 2008. Prior to taking on this role she has more than 25 years of work experience at CMHC where she held positions of increasing responsibility. During her career she worked extensively with First Nations people on the design, development and management of housing programs.

"Unlocking Opportunities for Indigenous Economies"

Dawn Madahbee Leach, Waubetek Business Development Corporation

Dawn Madahbee Leach will provide an overview of some of the initiatives that are taking place regionally, nationally and internationally to help unlock the many economic opportunities that exist for Indigenous communities and businesses.

Dawn Madahbee Leach is a proud member of the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario where she has served as a member of her community’s Council. Since 1988, she has been General Manager of the Waubetek Business Development Corporation, an Aboriginal Financial Institution that provides financing and economic services to Aboriginal entrepreneurs and First Nation communities throughout North-East Ontario and Southern Ontario. A graduate of the University of Waterloo Economic Development Program, Ms. Madahbee Leach also studied at York University and Laurentian University where she earned a degree in Political Science with a minor in Law. Dawn is the first Aboriginal woman in Canada to head up a commercial lending institution. In 2004, Dawn was recognized as a “Mover and Shaker” for economic development in the Northern Ontario Business newspaper. She was also celebrated as one of Laurentian University’s 25 Distinguished Alumni during the university’s twenty-fifth anniversary. She also contributed chapters to two published book compilations: 1) “Changing Lives: Women of Northern Ontario”; and 2) “Governance in Northern Ontario – Economic Development and Policy-Making” by Segsworth and Conteh with her chapter “First Nations Inclusion: A Key Requirement to Building the Northern Ontario Economy”. She is a recipient of the Anishnawbek Nation’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the MNP-AFOA Canada Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award in 2017 and was celebrated as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network in 2018. She received the Meritorious Service Decoration (Civilian Division) from the Governor General of Canada in 2019. She has been a speaker at international forums in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Paris, Germany, the US and the UN on Indigenous economic development. Dawn serves on various Boards and committees including the National Indigenous Economic Development Board where she serves as Vice-Chair. She also serves on the Boards of the Peace Hills Trust Company and NioBay Minerals Inc. She recently served on two national Ministerial panels on commercial fisheries and on Indigenous housing. She participates on a Committee with Global Affairs on Trade and is participating on an initiative led by the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Dawn is the owner of Indigenous Business International, a company that provides assistance to Indigenous peoples on sector strategies and corporate partnerships. Sharing her knowledge on the Aboriginal economy, she was instrumental in the development of the National Aboriginal Economic Benchmark Report (2012) and the follow-up National Aboriginal Economic Progress Reports 2015 and 2019. She also co-chaired the development of the “Anishnawbek Nation Economic Blueprint” which is used today by several First Nations in Ontario. She also guided the establishment of the internationally renowned “Great Spirit Circle Trail” Aboriginal tourism organization based on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario. She believes strongly that economic development, and following the Anishinabek traditional values, are the keys to addressing the challenges that her people face. She is a northern style traditional dancer on the powwow circuit. Dawn is happily married to the National Hockey League legend Reggie Leach and is the proud mother of Crystal Madahbee. Dawn is also deeply honoured to be a Nokomis to 1 granddaughter and 3 grandsons.


“Is Your Community Prepared for a Disaster?”

Leann Hackman-Carty, Economic Developers Alberta

Is your community prepared for a disaster? Are you prone to floods, fires, tornados, or other types of disasters?

When a disaster hits, it impacts individuals, families, businesses and communities. No one is immune. Communities across North America are struggling to respond, recover and become more resilient to disasters. It is important for Indigenous communities to:

  • Develop resilience plans before disasters strike;
  • Know resilience doesn’t just depend on your own capabilities, but on the strength of your stakeholder network;
  • Anticipate scenarios, draw up plans, and practice them in advance.

This session will address those important issues. The panel will highlight some of the challenges, opportunities and best practices out there for communities to take advantage of. In particular, Leann will provide case examples of how some Indigenous communities are addressing this issue in North America. As an Indigenous EDO, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to be prepared. This session will help you do that.

Leann Hackman-Carty, CEO, Economic Developers Alberta & Canadian President, Institute for Sustainable Development (Calgary, Canada). Leann has been the CEO of Economic Developers Alberta since 2009. In 2014, she completed a project with 11 Alberta flood impacted communities. In 2016-17, she worked with the Fort McMurray region on business and economic recovery by setting up and operating the business hotline; validating businesses for Red Cross emergency relief; and leading a 10-member economic recovery assessment team to the region. In 2019 she updated the Community Toolkit for Economic Recovery and Resiliency (Canadian Version)' to help communities prepare for and recover from economic disruptions, and brought the International Economic Development Councils’ resiliency training program to Canada in 2017. In addition to her work at EDA, she heads up HackmanCarty and Associates, which is focused on community capacity building, resilience and recovery. At the end of 2017, she released her “Master Your Disaster” series of guidebooks on Amazon designed to help individuals, businesses and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. In 2018, she received Public Safety Canada’s Emergency Management Exemplary Service Award-Resilient Communities. In her capacity as the Canadian President of the Institute for Sustainable Development (, she works with international experts on innovative long term community recovery and resiliency programs. In April 2019, she added the role as Managing Director (Canada) for Jobenomics ( to address her ongoing desire to “create jobs for everyone” particularly in the wake of a disaster, and hosts MYD Global’s YouTube Channel where she talks “all things disaster”.


“The Changing Nature of Work: Challenges & Opportunities in the Emerging Tech Space”

Christi Olson, Blockchain for Reconciliation

Historically, location and capital have been major barriers for communities when it comes to economic development. While the internet brought things like e-commerce to remote communities, technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are broadening the scope and lowering the cost of what is possible. In this workshop, we will cover how different types of technology can be leveraged for economic development and education, as well as how they can be used to preserve traditional culture and promote sovereignty.

Christi Olson is the co-founder of Blockchain for Reconciliation; a non-profit promoting Indigenous inclusion in the emerging tech space. We are membership-based, non-partisan and are unable to operate unless our board is at least 50% Indigenous. Our primary focus is education. For Indigenous communities we provide free consulting on what exists and how it can be used, as well as advice on implementation. On the tech side, we provide companies with training on best practices and how to start thinking in terms of collaboration, not colonization.


“Building Human Resource Capacity to Support Indigenous Economic Development”

Dr. Wendi Adair & Chloe Adie, University of Waterloo
& Dr. Catherine Kwantes, Twiladawn Stonefish, Alisha Jacobs & Cathy Burr, University of Windsor

Consistent with Cando’s mission to ‘’build’’ capacity which strengthens Indigenous economies’’ and ‘’to invest in our young people because these are the leaders who will be taking the helm of our future,’’ this symposium features three presentations from a collaborative team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students who are examining how Indigenous wisdom translates into effective organizational and human resource management practices. The students are being trained in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, learning four core skill areas: psychological and social influences on work behaviour, understanding human performances in the workplace, optimizing human resources, and understanding organizational climate and processes. By learning, understanding and applying Indigenous worldviews to an organizational context as part of the Indigenous Workways projects, these students aim to build capacity in Indigenous and non-Indigenous owned businesses to support Indigenous youth with their transition into the workforce, maintaining employment, and career advancement. By utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach that involves participating knowledge sharing, community engagement, and Indigenous methods, the Indigenous Workways project ultimately hopes that our research will create psychologically safe workspaces, respectful organizational communication tools, and sustainable Indigenous alumni networks.

Catherine Kwantes is professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Director of the Culture and Organizational Research Centre at the University of Windsor.  She received an MSc in Clinical Psychology, and MA and PhD degrees in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.  Her area of research is on the intersection of societal and organizational cultures, and how societal cultures affect perceptions of trustworthiness in organizations, workplace interactions, and employee attitudes. She has given lectures to audiences around the world, taught in numerous countries, and provided consultative services to organizations in North America and Asia.  She has lived and worked in Canada, Japan, India, and the USA.

Wendi L. Adair, PhD is Director of the Culture at Work Lab and Professor of Organizational Psychology at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. Professor Adair’s current research examines the impact of culture on communication, for example what is said and what is not said, and interdependent work outcomes, such as communication effectiveness, conflict resolution, trust, and team performance. She also investigates culture and the self at work, examining work values, the meaning of work, and adaptation in multicultural teams.

Twiladawn Stonefish is an Applied Social Psychology doctoral student whose research has taken her to an exploration of psychological safety, trust, and fit in the workplace. Her recent internship experience as an Indigenous Relations Advisor at a national energy corporation has provided additional support that in order for mutually beneficial relationships to be developed between Indigenous communities and mainstream corporations, trust and psychologically safety must be present. She hopes her work will pave the way for genuine reconciliation as we move forward together as a nation.

Alisha Jacobs is a member of the Delaware Nation – Moravian of the Thames. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Finance from the University of Guelph and a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management from Fanshawe College. She is currently in her third year at the University of Windsor pursuing an Honours Psychology with Thesis B.A. with a minor in Philosophy.

Cathy Burr is currently in her second year of her master’ program in applied social psychology and is supervised by Professor Catherine T. Kwantes. Her role in the Indigenous Workways project is as project coordinator - University of Windsor. Cathy has previous experience coordinating large projects as she was the project coordinator for the International Trustworthiness Study and is still involved in projects emerging from it.

Chloe Addie is currently a master’s student in industrial/organizational psychology at the University of Waterloo. She is contributing to the Indigenous Workways project by studying conflict management styles. Specifically, Chloe is working with Indigenous employees in Southwestern Ontario to understand their preferences for and experiences with conflict in the workplace. Indigenous workers have not been considered within this literature thus far and stand within distinct cultures and communities.


“Creating Connections: A Workshop on Exploring Co-operatives”

Trista Pewapisconias & Aasa Marshall, Co-operatives First

This workshop offers community and business leaders practical insight into how to explore co-operative business opportunities and work with groups interested in structuring their business as a co-operative. Participants gain a deeper understanding of the business model, explore real-life case studies as a group and leave with a clear understanding of where the model might fit as a problem-solving tool for the communities they work in. This workshop is accredited by the Economic Developers Association of Canada.

As an advocate for economic, business, and community development in rural and Indigenous communities, Co-operatives First provides the tools and connections group entrepreneurs need to start a co-operative business and help their communities grow and thrive. Indigenous Relations Lead, Trista Pewapisconias, is a member of the Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan.   Trista works alongside community members with their co-operative projects through business development and planning. Trista’s professional experience includes various marketing roles, as well as writing business plans for start-up Indigenous companies.  In her free time, Trista also sits on the board of the Saskatoon Downtown Early Learning Centre and the Indigenous Chamber of Commerce of Saskatchewan.

Aasa Marshall is the Communications Lead with Co-operatives First. Her work focuses on creating and editing content to spread the word about co-operatives and how people can use them to benefit their communities.   Originally from rural Saskatchewan, Aasa has a background in journalism and a Masters of Public Policy from the U of S. In addition to her work at Co-operatives First, Aasa serves on the board of a local non-profit organization that provides services to newcomers.


“Entrepreneurship Ecosystem & Support Practices”

Emilie Fortin-Lefebvre, Université du Québec à Montréal
& Mickel Robertson, First Nations of Quebec & Labrador Economic Development Commission

First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC) provides training and technical support to Community Economic Development Officers (CEDOs). This workshop aims to present an overview of a research done in collaboration with University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) that reflects on the importance of questioning our own practices. As Indigenous entrepreneurship faces several obstacles that delay its development, especially during the pre-startup period of the company, it brings particular challenges to CEDOs and economic development. Especially, these challenges bring major dilemmas between the standardization of approaches and the need for adaptation and flexibility required by Indigenous realities.

Emilie Fortin-Lefebvre is a Professor in entrepreneurship and management at University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). She received her PhD in Management from University of Quebec in Montreal and her M.Sc. in Local and International Development from the University of Sherbrooke. Today, her research projects focus on entrepreneurial practices in marginalized contexts and her area of expertise includes Quebec’s First Nations and Food Sovereignty in Haïti. She is also a member of the Center for research on social innovations – CRISES and is currently working to develop a center of expertise on Indigenous economic autonomy.

Mr. Mickel Robertson is a member of the Innu community of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam and an economist by training. Based on several years of experience as a commercial banker, he, over the past few years, held various functions within the Royal Bank of Canada, including the post of Commercial Account Manager and responsible for First Nations market in Quebec. Mr. Robertson is the Director General of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC) since September 2016. The FNQLEDC is a Wendake based organization devoted to the support and the training of CEDO, first nation entrepreneurs and communities of Quebec and Labrador. The FNQLEDC also serves as the economic development arm of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec Labrador. Mr. Robertson is also serving as director on the board of the Chantier de l’économie social, a non-profit organization devoted to social economy, and as president of New Pathways Foundation, a foundation devoted to the first nation youth’s development and well being.


“Plan & Prosper - 7 Ways to Cultivate Resiliency for Your Business”

Mathieu Lipari, Farm Management Canada

Agriculture provides 1 in 8 jobs in Canada and contributes 7% to the GDP. The opportunities for agriculture have never been greater, as we need farmers to feed our growing domestic and international population. Heather will walk you through the 7 management practices driving farm business success to continue to contribute to the economic, social, cultural and environmental prosperity of our nation. Heather will share the opportunities available to become involved in farming, and the resources available to entrepreneurs to unleash your potential in the agricultural sector.

Mathieu joined the team in 2010 as a Project Manager and brought with him an excellent grasp of the challenges of agriculture in Canada and overseas. He manages a variety of successful projects at Farm Management Canada that provide farmers with business management tools and resources. Prior to joining the team, Mathieu worked in similar roles for the International Development Research Centre and for Guelph University and has managed agriculture projects in North and Central America, Europe and Africa. Mathieu holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Québec in Montreal, Québec and a Technical Degree in Agriculture from the University of Guelph.


“Separating Business, Politics & Building Sustainability”

Sam Minde, Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies Inc.

Separating business from politics is one small step to rebuilding your economic development.   The Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies has a story that looks to the past, acts in the present and builds a foundation for future of economic development in their Nation.  Building sustainability means self sufficiency and returns on investment that is more than just profit margins.  We measure job creation, economic leakage, modernization of commercial buildings and human resource capacity development.  NGCI was created to benefit the Ermineskin Cree Nation citizens, but we are impacting our community and the region. 

Mr. Minde is President and CEO of Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies Inc. He has years of experience advising and sitting on Boards.  He holds a Bachelor of Management and an MBA.  Mr. Minde also served a term as Councilor for the Ermineskin Cree Nation. Mr. Minde leads business development with startups, acquisitions, and JV’s. NGCI business development strategy is managing the Nation’s existing business assets and transform them into sustainable profitable businesses.  NGCI manage 12 businesses, employ 50 citizens and generate millions in revenues.  Since establishment, economic development has revitalized the Nations business core and energized the Nations citizens.  


“Creating Market Access for Entrepreneurs”

Stacia Kean, Canadian Executive Services Organization

Stacia’s presentation will give a brief introduction to CESO, a not-for-profit organization focusing on economic development by growing sustainable, inclusive businesses, and strengthening government infrastructure. As the Director of CESO’s Indigenous Services, Stacia will illustrate the lessons learned that have helped to facilitate market access for Northern and remote Indigenous-led businesses through its comprehensive mentorship program. As part of this discussion, Stacia will highlight the importance of market access as a key component  to supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

Stacia Kean has been actively involved in the community economic development sector for over ten years. As Director of CESO’s Indigenous Services, she is a dedicated leader determined to nurture knowledge-sharing relationships between CESO and Indigenous peoples in Canada. Her work in micro-finance and peer lending models, as well as distance learning and business training, has built capacity in women and youth in remote communities across Canada, and has been recognized by various renowned organizations. Her extensive volunteer work has included numerous appointments to Boards and Steering Committees. 

“How to Bridge the Digital & Social Divide and Build Economies in Remote Communities”

Sharon Marshall, Cree8iv Collaboration Inc.

Sharon will lead an interactive workshop where, with the help of her distributed team, she will demonstrate team collaboration software that EDOs can use to:

  • Organize thoughts and ideas
  • Mind map
  • Use a Kanban interactive template
  • Create a user story map framework
  • Design a customer journey map
  • Create a concept map
  • Prepare a business model canvas
  • Share interactive ideas via video and audio

Sharon Marshall is a Metis/Cree entrepreneur with 30+ years of experience in office administration and 14+ years as a virtual assistant, providing administrative, creative and technical support to individuals and organizations globally. Having only recently self-identified, Sharon is compelled to help other Indigenous women find their voice. She has created Canada’s first 20-week online digital literacy and virtual support training program. Currently training Indigenous women across Canada, when the DEVAs are finished, they will become Digital Executive Virtual Assistants working for Virtual eAdmin, an Indigenous digital training and temp staffing agency.

“Saving the Forestry Sector with Economic Partnerships”

Trevor Cootes, Huu-ay-aht First Nations

In 2019, Huu-ay-aht purchased 7% ownership interest in the local forestry operations with the goals of achieving long-term sustainability, and providing training, economic benefits and well-paying jobs for its people. Through cooperative management, the path was cleared to revitalize the forestry sector while ensuring operations meet the standards of Huu-ay-aht’s forestry principles. This workshop will explore lessons learned about growing businesses, engaging in partnerships, and facilitating training and employment opportunities that will enable better participation in economic activities.

Currently serving his second term as an elected member of Executive Councilor for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Trevor Cootes holds the Economic Development, with Training & Employment, and External Affairs portfolios for the nation. Trevor has two decades of experience working in various areas of tourism, including hospitality, adventure guiding, culture, retail, as well as being an events coordinator and educator. He is also co-chair of the Cooperative Management Board for Pacific Rim National Park and a Director of Indigenous Tourism BC.



“Indigenous Opportunities in Agriculture & Agri-Food, From Farm to Fork”

Shaun Soonias, Farm Credit Canada

Agriculture represents one of the greatest opportunities for Indigenous economic development.  Indigenous communities are stewards over vast tracts of land and water and are uniquely well positioned to move from Land Lessors to Leaders in Agriculture. Farm Credit Canada possesses a full spectrum of agricultural expertise and lending tools and we are committed to working with Indigenous governments, economic development corporations and entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector from the farm to fork and everything in-between. Please join FCC in learning how we can partner to build Indigenous food sovereignty and solidify Canada’s place as the breadbasket to the world.

Shaun Soonias is a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan which is located in Treaty Six Territory west of Battleford, Sk.  Shaun is a board member with Red Pheasant`s Economic Development Corporation.  Shaun is the Director, Indigenous Relations with Farm Credit Canada. Shaun has 25 years of experience in social and economic development having held senior positions with the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network, Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Saskatchewan Advocate for Children & Youth and University of Saskatchewan and Department of Justice. Shaun is a partner in two companies, NutraPonics Canada Corporation which focuses on food production and NGK Biologix which focuses on medical marijuana production through commercial, hyper-organic, in-door vertical farming based on aquaponics. Shaun has worked with First Nations, municipal, provincial and federal governments on a number of key provincial and national strategies and legislative processes and continues to work towards Indigenous inclusion in the economy from employment to economic development.


“The Rise of a New Ecosystem to Support Women Entrepreneurs"

Emmanuel Bertrand-Gavin, First Nations of Quebec & Labrador Economic Development Comission

In 2013, women with business ideas would stay at the intention stage for several years. They would not talk about their project to anyone. Very few women even allowed themselves to think of business project. The women entrepreneur service at the FNQLEDC represents 6 years of development. We have identified, documented, consulted and proposed solutions to improve the ecosystem that supports women entrepreneurs. This process led us to create the first dedicated service. The demand for this service is very high. Presentation will highlight the development process and its impacts.

Emmanuel Bertrand-Gauvin is in charge of the Business Women Services at the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC, The objective is to mobilize women and to accompany them in the implementation of strategies that will make a difference in economic opportunities. More generally, his work seeks to optimize local, regional and national resources to help improve the living conditions of First Nations people. Consultation, mobilisation and innovation are the key issues. He has a Master’s Degree in Economic Anthropology, specializing in the practices of pension fund managers and more generally on the redistribution of wealth.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit Statistics: The Way Forward

Anil Arora, Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada is committed to working in partnership, providing high quality statistical information to the Canadian population and specifically Indigenous communities that drive evidence-based policy and decision-making. This presentation will highlight what modernization means in the field of First Nations, Métis and Inuit statistics. It will also discuss some of the unique challenges, opportunities and programs within Indigenous statistics, and how Statistics Canada is working to better represent the lives and conditions of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit.

Anil Arora was appointed Chief Statistician of Canada in September 2016. Mr. Arora has led significant transformational initiatives throughout his career, with experience and partnerships spanning all three levels of government, the private sector and international organizations, including the UN and the OECD. He has led projects on high-profile policy issues, legislative and regulatory reform, and overseen large national programs. In 2009, Mr. Arora received the prestigious APEX Leadership Award in recognition of his exceptional leadership skills and management excellence. In 2010, Mr. Arora joined Natural Resources Canada as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Minerals and Metals Sector, and in 2013 was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister of Science and Policy Integration. He moved to Health Canada in 2014, becoming Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Products and Food Branch and leading a complex organization overseeing regulation of food, drug and health products for Canada. He also served as chair of the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities. Mr. Arora attended the University of Alberta, where he earned a Bachelor of Science, followed by further education in computing science and management, including a graduate certificate in Advanced Public Sector Management at the University of Ottawa, and the Advanced Leadership Program at the Canada School of Public Service.


mi'kmaq dj/producer & co-founder of a Tribe Called Red

Focused on party rocking, backed by his technical precision and musical depth, Jon Deck's experience and versatile talent has made him one of the next major DJs – not only on the Canadian scene, but internationally as well touring across the US, Australia, South East Asia & Japan extensively. Jon has also collaborated with many of hip-hop's elite, including songs with PUMPKINHEAD, TORAE, WORDSWORTH, SEAN PRICE, GHETTOSOCKS & JUJU of the Beatnuts. Jon Deck is also credited for the creation of Canadian indigenous DJ group A TRIBE CALLED RED. In 2014, they garnered mainstream recognition when the band became the first Indigenous group to win the Breakthrough Group of the Year award at the Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammys). ATCR was also long-listed for Canada’s prestigious Polaris Music Prize in 2012 and 2013 and its debut album was included in the Washington Post’s top 10 albums of that same year.