Last month, hundreds of delegates gathered in Richmond for the inaugural Indigenomics By Design – The $100 billion Indigenous Economy Conference. This much-anticipated event focused on the design of the evolution of the growth of the Indigenous economy in Canada.
We carefully developed a focused agenda that introduced participants to the concept: 12 economic levers to support the growth of the Indigenous economy.
The event brought industry, government, and Indigenous leaders together in focused design sessions, where they discussed topics like equity, capital, philanthropy, trade, infrastructure, and entrepreneurship.
Hosting a national conference is a lot of work, but it’s worth it. My intention was to drive a framework for convening ideas, tools, resources and people to grow the Indigenous economy – and I think we’re making progress.
“Indigenous peoples, governments and businesses represent one of Canada’s greatest untapped resources to develop, and grow our regional and national economies,” said Shaun Soonias, Director of Indigenous Relations at Farm Credit Canada.
“Indigenomics by Design is a vehicle for Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders to partner in realizing this potential, growing the Indigenous economy and adding an unrealized layer of resiliency to our economy.”
The conference also featured a keynote address by Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan, and a gala featuring the legendary Buffy St. Marie, and a fashion show by up-and-coming Indigenous fashion designer Yolonda Skelton. But one of my personal highlights involved a side event, the Indigenomics national research forum. This included a 100-year Indigenous economy visioning exercise and a discussion on the data and metrics of the growth of the Indigenous economy. It was a chance to take an educated – and optimistic – look ahead.
“Indigenomics provided the passion, the roadmaps and the numerous pathways for the journey ahead to achieve and go far beyond, what has already been happening in the Indigenous communities, businesses and economies,” said Mike Watson of Sto:lo Community Futures.
“The Indigenomics Institute certainly exceeded the objectives initially established, and assisted in motivating a movement, that now has a clear pathway towards the future.”
I was pleased to see corporate Canada stepping up to sponsor us, including VanCity, Scotiabank, and LNG Canada – they know a good investment when they see it.
The conference was followed by the inaugural Indigenomics Economic Council. This was no less significant; for the first time in the history of Canada, a group of economists convened to advise on the growing strength of the Indigenous economy. The Council is tasked with advising on the design and development of the metrics to support the focused growth of the Indigenous economy.
What’s next? We are just getting started. The inaugural Indigenomics conference will be followed by four more annual conferences focusing on the growth of the Indigenous economy towards $100 billion.
Carol Anne Hilton, MBA is the CEO and Founder of The Indigenomics Institute. Carol Anne is a recognized national Indigenous business leader and senior adviser with an international Masters Degree in Business Management (MBA) from the University of Hertfordshire, England. Carol Anne is of Nuu chah nulth descent from the Hesquiaht Nation on Vancouver Island.