It was a cold January evening when I went to go find a parking spot in a very packed lot near the TCU place. There were people walking in that looked very professional and as a youth delegate I was excited to see what might be in
Store for me during the next three days. I didn’t realize that the event’s participant’s were so politically involved until I was given my symposium package and had gone to the area of networking and noticed all the People.
There were First Nation, Métis and Inuit business successors that were either presenting or participating and there were youth delegates from all over the place, B.C., Manitoba, Alberta, New Foundland, and Saskatchewan. Each youth was in School or had their own business regardless, all the delegates were chosen carefully and had a very strong interest in making changes towards our economic development.
This was definitely a great opportunity for everyone to connect with other participants to determine what is working and what need’s improvement on every level of economic development. Challenges that face our Indigenous Community can be very shadowed, but at this eye opening event, that was definitely not the case. Each workshop seemed to teach a new lesson and spark a new idea in my head as well as others sharing the same experience with different perspectives. It was excellent to see such charisma and determination with each speaker so involved and passionate about their progress on the growth of our future, whether it was technology, government or tourism. Tourism for example, was one thing I didn’t even know had such great relevance to economic development and maintaining the revenue continually as well as preserving our culture. There were three very memorable workshops and it was not only what was being presented but how the delivery of the presentation was executed. The lunch Panel was Chief Clarence Louie who I can not say enough about but to humbly name him one of my new role model’s. The Chief is a True Warrior to be acknowledged and his story and video he brought were just as effective as the way he carried himself, unafraid and very confident. He gave me a reason to be motivated to try to find a way based in his footsteps to help my people by succeeding in my own life to the best of my ability. As a chief since 1985 of the Okanagan Nation in South Central British Columbia, he had such powerful words and a very promising quotes. The chief said “ Socio-economic development is the foundation for First Nation self reliance, our communities need to become business minded and begin to create their own jobs and revenue sources, not just administer government programs that are often under funded.” He has many successes to name a few the 9 businesses on reserve including: vineyards, retail stores, a construction company, a Readi-Mix company, a championship golf course, eco-tourism businesses and activities in Forest division. These successes need to be promoted more so that First nation youth can be aware that our people have decided to start fighting the oppression by working towards self sufficiency in our communities. The other two speakers which really caught my attention were Allan Luby and Dr.Manley Begay in their impressive perspective on strategies to stop legislation making and start policy changing in order for government to work for our people. The doctor had a rather interesting and inspiring presentation on Indigenous Leadership, Nation Building, Indigenous education, curriculum development and Historical and contemporary indigenous issues
There was so many wonderful little moments to the whole symposium especially during the Gala event where the food and the entertainment just took about took the cake! I took a step back and realized that someone really thought this through when my appetizers were pemmican, a little bread with some sort of paste and dry meat. The entree’ was Smoked Bison, Artic Char and a mix of Vegetables, which was so good! These dishes were as different as the people First nation, Inuit and Métis!! As a First Nation I felt really important to be part of this symposium and the sense of belonging and pride came when the entertainment started. It was so nice to look around during the lunch’s and supper’s to see everyone sitting at tables together, the businesswomen and men, of all different nationalities with the youth as well eating together and talking about our future.
Andrea Me’ nard was the master of ceremonies and she introduced each set of performers who were the Greatest Métis Dancer’s, The Great Plains Pow-wow Troupe and world champion Throat singer’s from Nunavut!! I have never seen such a variety of culture in so many ways, the food, the entertainment and the wonderful environment of people from different backgrounds connecting through their senses in such a uniting way.
Throughout the whole three days I had experienced a new sense of pride and gratitude like never before. This seemed to happen during the last but not least of all event’s and that was the Youth forum where, Vice-chief Guy Lonechild stayed throughout the whole thing as well as a few other business people to observe and record what was happening. I had tears throughout the week, but most of all the youth forum really appeared to be the most beneficial to the business successors to their future development and helping us, the youth to be able to access their wonderful world of economic development.
In my mind what I think happened during the Aboriginal Economic Development Symposium was a historical landmark for our future to be molded into a newer stronger statue of strength, pride, motivation and self determination. We as youth have had the baton passed down to us in our relay race to save our fast changing world and start working towards a more productive and understanding future. Thank you to all those who came and supported the Symposium, you and many others have left a lasting impression on people you talked to, ate with , laughed with and connected too whether you were conscious of your impact, keep doing what your doing and don’t forget, Everyone is a role model!