Saskatchewan has many positive attributes that make it a great place to live, work and invest; the innovation and energy of its people, its four seasons, and its natural bounty afforded from the land. However, the province also has opportunities that must be championed to reach its full potential, perhaps most importantly, this includes the opportunity to fully engage the Indigenous Peoples in the economy.
In his 2011 report, University of Saskatchewan Professor Eric Howe reported that the value, beyond any social or moral purpose, of bridging the Indigenous education gap and bringing the Saskatchewan Indigenous population to the same economic level as the broader population is a $90 billion opportunity.
There is little doubt that this is the most important economic opportunity on Saskatchewan’s horizon.
The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce (SCC) is committed to enhancing Indigenous Engagement and has included Indigenous Engagement in its 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.
Indigenous Engagement means different things to different businesses but at the SCC it begins with the development of an internal Indigenous Engagement Plan and signing on to the Indigenous Engagement Charter, the SCC recommends that all Saskatchewan businesses form a written Indigenous Engagement Plan.
The SCC recommends that businesses invest in education for staff (Indigenous Awareness Training); develop HR practices to hire, retain and promote more Indigenous workers; implement procurement practices that consider/reward Indigenous-owned businesses; and reinforce relationships and support Indigenous communities.
The SCC also recommends that government agencies create and implement Indigenous Procurement policies with publicly reported results.