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Organizers Celebrate Successful 2009 NWT Aboriginal Business Conference

by NationTalk on September 25, 20091890 Views

September 24, 2009

Yellowknife, NWT – The 2009 NWT Aboriginal Business Conference has come to an end and organizers are calling it one of the most successful editions of the annual event in its four-year history. This year’s conference attracted over 180 delegates from around the NWT and beyond.“The goal of this event is to bring all of the aboriginal corporations together so they can learn from one another,” said Peter Arrowmaker, Chairman of Denendeh Development Corporation.

Conference co-chairs John Bekale, Senior Aboriginal Advisor, BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc., and former Premier Stephen Kakfwi, Kakfwi & Associates, l ed participants through a program that included speeches and presentations by the Conference Board of Canada, Mackenzie Aboriginal Corporation, ATCO Electric, Mackenzie Valley Aboriginal Pipeline LP, Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus, NWT Premier Floyd Roland, co-chair of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Ron Jamieson, NWT Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Bob McLeod and many others.

Delivering the keynote address at this year’s conference was Margaret Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI), which was established in 1971 under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. When formed, CIRI had 1.25 million acres of land entitlements and $78 million and has since grown into one of the state’s largest corporations with more than $637 million in total assets.

“We’ve paid out more than $900 million in dividends to our approximately 7,600 shareholders since our inception,” Brown told delegates, before encouraging First Nations in the NWT to focus their resources on education wherever possible. “Getting your own university in the North is important.”

Among the other highlights of the event was the opening of the Youth Workshop facilitated by entrepreneur Robb Campre, a Fort McKay First Nation band member, director with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and a former Edmonton Eskimos professional football player.

“It’s so important to have our youth involved in events like this,” said Campre. “These events are about creating future economic opportunities and our youth are our future.”

Together with members of Red Power Squad, which uses hip hop and dance to inspire Aboriginal youth, the Youth Workshop focused on helping young people understand the importance of making choices and sacrifices to achieve their personal life goals.

Among the other highlights for participants was the panel of NWT aboriginal business success stories and the concluding Town Hall session.

During the conference, Darrell Beaulieu, President and CEO of Denendeh Investments Inc. (DII), was joined at the podium by Alexis Harke, Managing Director of Jardin Lloyd Thompson Canada Inc., to formally sign a memorandum of understanding resulting in the creation of a DII-owned Insurance Broker that will be a shareholder in New Sky Risk Management and Insurance Solutions Inc. (New Sky).

“This is the premier aboriginal business event in the NWT because we really do capture the whole economy here in these three days,” said Beaulieu. “Our purpose is to promote economic co-operation and we are again demonstrating this by working with the NWT Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Aboriginal Business Association (NABA) to deliver next year’s conference.”

The 2010 NWT Aboriginal Business Conference will be held in conjunction with the NWT Chamber’s triennial conference and trade show Prospects North.

“By bringing our two events together, demonstrating the very co-operation we’ve all been discussing here, we hope to provide even more value for the delegates, trade show exhibitors and sponsors who make it all possible,” said Ann Marie Tout, President of the NWT Chamber. “One of the themes that we’ve heard a great deal about during the Aboriginal Business Conference is the importance of having a foot in both worlds – it’s our hope that by combining our events we’ll bring those two worlds that much closer together.”

Again this year, CKLB Radio broadcast the entire conference live to all of the communities throughout the NWT as well as to the three diamond mines and parts of Northern Alberta.

For more information, please contact:
Darrell Beaulieu
President & CEO
Denendeh Investments Inc.

John Curran
Executive Director
NWT Chamber of Commerce

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