Sask. industry collaboration looks to place spotlight on Indigenous business

Saskatchewan industry partners have come together to help amplify Indigenous business in the province through a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

The Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resource Centre of Excellence (SFNNRCE) signed the MOU with SupplierLink Saskatchewan, which will help with sourcing and identifying Indigenous companies to include them in major projects in the province.

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SupplierLink Saskatchewan is a collaboration between the Saskatchewan Construction Association, the Saskatchewan Industrial Mining Suppliers Association, The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, and EHS Analytics.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) vice chief Heather Bear said First Nations are good business.

“We would like to bring more success to our people, more success to you,” Bear said.

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White Bear First Nation councillor Bernard Shepherd said it’s tough to compete in construction as a First Nations worker, adding that the federal government’s policies have made it difficult for First Nations people.

“The government’s policies at the time did a lot to destroy our culture and our values, and to put us on reserves and make us dependent. I always say the worst thing that they could have done to us is was in the 50’s when they introduced welfare to our communities,” Shepherd said.

“When you give free money to people it’s not good. If they don’t work for their money, they don’t accel.”

He said those systems have created a rut within First Nations.

Shepherd added some of the government’s acts don’t encourage economic development on reserves.

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Sheldon Wuttunee with SFNNRCE said the Export database, a database that holds information about Indigenous companies, has far reaching benefits.

“Export has been something that we’ve developed over time and really looked at it from an inclusive, collective, collaborative approach,” Wuttunee said.

“We really want to play the important role of creating linkages, creating opportunities for collaboration with the construction industry, with the resource industry, and our First Nations, Metis, Inuit or Indigenous people and our communities.”

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He said this will benefit First Nations people by giving their businesses an opportunity to be found through a searchable database.

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