About

Mission

“To promote and support the sustainable economic livelihood of Saskatchewan First Nations communities through building capacity, relationships and knowledge.”

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History

Established in 2012, the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network (SFNEDN) was created organically through discussions among key First Nations economic development leaders who shared common goals and a vision for First Nations economic development in Saskatchewan.  These leaders felt that a centralized support organization could result in better outcomes for First Nations economic development officers and economic development corporations that generally have limited resources and networks.  Over the past five years, the SFNEDN has offered research, blogs and newsletters, while delivering conferences, workshops and networking events.  In 2016, the SFNEDN had the honour of hosting the World Indigenous Business Forum which earned the SFNEDN recognition throughout Canada and across the world.

As the SFNEDN reflects on their first five years of existence and sets to embark on its next five, we want to ensure that the organization is serving the needs of Saskatchewan First Nations in business and economic development.  The following Strategic Directions developed in February 2017 set our priorities, focus energy and ensure that the SFNEDN is filling gaps and supporting First Nations economic developers in Saskatchewan.

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Strategic Plan: 2017-2022

Capacity Building

Established in 2012, the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network (SFNEDN) was created organically through discussions among key First Nations economic development leaders who shared common goals and a vision for First Nations economic development in Saskatchewan.  These leaders felt that a centralized support organization could result in better outcomes for First Nations economic development officers and economic development corporations that generally have limited resources and networks.  Over the past five years, the SFNEDN has offered research, blogs and newsletters, while delivering conferences, workshops and networking events.  In 2016, the SFNEDN had the honour of hosting the World Indigenous Business Forum which earned the SFNEDN recognition throughout Canada and across the world.

As the SFNEDN reflects on their first five years of existence and sets to embark on its next five, we want to ensure that the organization is serving the needs of Saskatchewan First Nations in business and economic development.  The following Strategic Directions developed in February 2017 set our priorities, focus energy and ensure that the SFNEDN is filling gaps and supporting First Nations economic developers in Saskatchewan.

CAPACITY BUILDING OBJECTIVE

To help First Nations economic developers expand their understanding of how to develop and analyze business opportunities and to provide a centralized access point to fill in any information and knowledge gaps that they encounter in developing projects.

Networking

Creating a strong environment of networking for First Nations economic developers is a foundational priority of the SFNEDN.  SFNEDN’s view of networking includes a variety of individuals and organizations with an interest in seeing advancement of First Nations economic development.  SFNEDN will develop an environment of peer-to-peer mentoring, create collisions between First Nations and industry and help align support organizations and economic development organizations with First Nations communities.

NETWORKING OBJECTIVE

To facilitate the development of complete support networks around First Nations economic developers (“clients”).

Research & Advocacy

There is a significant information deficit among First Nations economic developers, which negatively impacts business growth and creates uncertainty and indecision when considering opportunities.  SFNEDN will support research focused on improving knowledge on key issues impacting First Nations economic developers and supporting a better information collection and analysis environment.  SFNEDN will lever research efforts to inform advocacy priorities as it markets and promotes First Nations economic development in Saskatchewan to support widespread understanding of opportunities for industry and other stakeholders to engage First Nations businesses as partners and suppliers.  SFNEDN will seek to promote First Nations success stories and achievements to enhance positive messages in coverage of First Nations issues.  SFNEDN aspires to be a centralized advocate to drive forward support by using reports and analysis to highlight the tremendous value of growing First Nations businesses in Saskatchewan.

RESEARCH & ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE

 To create a more informed First Nations economic development community and promote the value of engaging First Nations as partners and suppliers through information sharing and by highlighting benefits and success stories.

Communication

The SFNEDN will use several different avenues and mediums in order to communicate and engage with First Nations economic developers, industry players and other stakeholders.  SFNEDN will actively pursue a strategy to use social media, the SFNEDN website, conference presentations and other avenues in order to communicate with these clients.  The SFNEDN will seek to promote First Nations success stories and achievements to enhance positive messages in coverage of First Nations Issues, as well as provide any information that pertains to First Nations economic development, such as funding opportunities, policy changes.  Communication is also important in order to provide updates on the SFNEDN in order to foster accountability and transparency.

COMMUNICATION OBJECTIVE

To communicate important information on policy, programming, training, success stories and other with First Nations communities.

Board of Directors

Milton Tootoosis
Chair

Milton is from the Poundmaker Cree Nation in Treaty Six Territory. Milton has over two decades experience in human resource management and aboriginal policy at the tribal, provincial and federal levels of government. His professional and personal interests enhance and build communities of collaboration with attention to building positive relationships and advancement. Milton has served on numerous committees with a focused attention to skills development, creating capacity and economic independence within First Nations communities. Milton received his Bachelor of Indigenous Studies in 1985, has studied public administration and taken numerous professional development courses. He is an accredited Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer by the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers. He is also a student of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona.

mtootoosis@otc.ca

Charlotte Ross
Co-Chair

Charlotte Ross is a band member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation and has been residing in the Saskatoon area for over twenty years. She completed her formal education at the University of Saskatchewan with an undergraduate Honors degree in Native Studies and a graduate degree in Adult & Continuing Education. Charlotte was involved in academic advising, liaison communications with First Nations and strategic planning throughout her tenure at the U of S for twenty years. She has been involved in the agricultural storage industry since 2012 with her partner, Paul Sharpe, incorporating as Osihcikew Contracting Ltd. and going across SK, AB and MB to build grain storage bins with local farmers and commercial size operations. They have recently expanded their repertoire of services to include steel building construction as well as being the only representative for Olympia Steel in SK. She has two children, numerous nieces and nephews and an ever-growing circle of grandchildren.

charlotteross2010@yahoo.ca

Angela Pratt
Board Member

Angela Pratt is a band member of Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation located near Regina, SK. Angela completed her Bachelor of Administration, with a concentration in Marketing, in 2005 from the University of Regina/First Nations University of Canada. Her next academic goal is to pursue the Master of Business Administration designation. Angela has been working with the First Nations since she completed her degree. Angela has worked with Raven Consortium, Touchwood/Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services, Yorkton Tribal Council Executive Office, SaskTel and Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation. Currently, she works for FHQ Developments as the Economic Development and Business Advisor and has held the position since November 2011.

Angela's career aspirations have been focused on supporting the advancement and success of First Nations communities and as such, has joined the SFNEDN team as a board member. Angela is the proud mother of two boys and currently resides in Regina, SK.

apratt@fhqdev.com

Mel Merasty
Board Member

Mel Merasty is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in northern Saskatchewan. He received his diploma in Business Administration from the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies in 1997 and his Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in Marketing from the University of Saskatchewan in 2012. He has taken numerous professional development courses and will be pursuing accreditation in economic development. He is an Economic Development Officer working with his band’s seven northern reserve communities plus the urban membership. He assists the band members with their entrepreneurial ideas and the communities with economic development committee training thus building capacity development and enhancing community readiness for economic opportunities.

His interests include enhancing economic and community development, social entrepreneurship and building relationships between First Nations and Non-First Nations organizations. Mel currently resides in Prince Albert.

mmerasty@pbcn.ca

Pam Spink
Board Member

Pam has held senior management positions in both the United States and Australia. In the United States, she was a Program Manager for the Executive Development Center at the University of Illinois. As a senior executive in Australia working for Pacific Dunlop Ltd. (Ansell Ltd.) and Foster’s Brewing Group, she did strategic planning for both domestic and international markets (the latter included Europe, the United States and New Zealand). Complementing her work experiences, she has a BA from Western University, London Ontario and a Master of Business Administration from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She has a long-standing interest in helping develop economic opportunities in First Nations communities.

p.louise.spink@gmail.com
p.spink@inneredgeresources.com

Heather Exner-Pirot
Director, Board Member

Dr. Heather Exner-Pirot is the Strategist for Outreach and indigenous Engagement with the College of Nursing at the University of Saskatchewan. She has previous appointments with the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development, the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and the University of the Arctic.

heather.exnerpirot@usask.ca

Keith Fonstad
Board Member

After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a major in accounting, Keith joined MNP as an articling student in 2000. In 2006 he began working with a number of First Nation communities providing financial statement audit services. As the relationships grew, he found himself working with community leadership and management to assist in other areas. Keith developed and taught multiple workshops on a variety of subjects including how to read financial statements while also assisting leadership and management with projects such as financial policy review, IT system back-ups, and creation of economic development entities. In 2007 he was invited to be a partner with MNP and in 2010 Keith accepted the role of Saskatchewan’s Provincial Director of Aboriginal Services. He continues to work with many of Saskatchewan’s First Nation communities assisting with audit and advisory services.

Keith is also a current Direct of the Saskatchewan First Nation Family and Community Institute and the Rotary Club of Prince Albert, and is a member of the Northern Business Task Force of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.

Executive Director

Shaun Soonias is a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan and board member with Red Pheasant`s Economic Development Corporation.  Shaun is the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network (SFNEDN) which proudly hosted the World Indigenous Business Forum in Saskatoon in August 2016.  Shaun has over 24 years of experience in social and economic development roles, having held senior positions with the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Saskatchewan Advocate for Children & Youth, University of Saskatchewan and Department of Justice.  Shaun is a partner in two companies, NutraPonics Canada Corporation which focuses on food security through commercial, beyond organic in-door vertical farming based on aquaponics and Stonecutters Group which focuses on creating and protecting inter-generational wealth by implementing Indigenous Sovereign Wealth Funds.  Shaun has worked with First Nations, municipal, provincial and federal governments on a number of key provincial and national strategies and legislative processes and continues to work towards Indigenous inclusion in the economy from employment to economic development.