Inspiring Creativity and Wise Practices at the Banff Centre


I was very honored to be asked to present at the Wise Practices in Indigenous Community Development Symposium at the Banff Centre from September 13-15. 

On September 13th, after a very long day of travelling, I attending the opening reception at the fantastic Banff Centre.  For those of you who have never had the luxury of being to the Banff Centre, you are certainly missing out. The Banff Centre is a non-credit post secondary institution that has been a staple in the town of Banff for over 100 years.  The conference, accommodation, dining, and fitness facilities are all second to none!

On September 14th I had the opportunity to meet many people from all over North America and even Australia, who are focused on improving Aboriginal community and economic development in Canada.  Noteworthy was the keynote address, which was delivered by Dr. Rick Colbourne, who is the Assistant Dean Director of Indigenous Business Education at UBC.  He introduced their Ch’nook program, which is a program similar to our mentorship program. The goal of both of our programs is to generate more interest among Aboriginal youth in studying business at university. Dr. Colbourne explained the partnerships they have with 25 universities and colleges all over British Columbia. There is 2 distinct programs that make up Ch’nook, which was established over 10 years ago:  the Cousin’s program, which targets high school students, and the Indigenous Business Network, which targets current Aboriginal university business students.  I was absolutely amazed by the depth and success of their programs. With hard work I have no doubt that the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth can as successful within the same timeframe.  Dr. Colbourne is open to possible collaboration. We agreed that, being that we are headed in the same direction, it is only logical to share our wise practices. 

On September 15th, I presented the wise practices we use in the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth in a panel themed:  Indigenous Leadership Development in Canada.  There were 25 engaged attendees at my presentation, which lasted approximately 25 minutes.   In the afternoon, I attended a panel presentation themed:  Indigenous Economic and Business Development.  The presenters were:  Dr Robert Miller, Lewis and Clark Law School, Dr. Bob Kayseas, First Nations University, and Miriam Jorgensen, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona – all of which were great presentations! After the closing prayer, attendees were treated to a performance by Buffy Saint Marie, which was fantastic. 

Alberta is a long was to travel for a 2.5 day conference.  However, it was certainly worth the trip!  I have learned so much over the past few days and have met amazing people along the way as well. I was pleasantly surprised by the significant amount of organizations/people who are doing very similar work to the Purdy Crawford Chair.  I think there is a lot to be learned form Aboriginal communities on the West Coast of Canada, the United States, and Australia.  All regions were well represented at the Symposium.  If a similar event is held in the future, I would return in a heart beat!