Chief Clarence Louis from the Osoyoos Indian Band was the keynote speaker

First-of-its-kind Athabasca Economic Development Gathering 

November 14, 2023 in News
Explorer: Fall 2023

The four Athabasca economic entities worked together to put on a gathering at Dakota Dunes Hotel this spring. 

On May 11, Athabasca leadership (Chief and council, and mayors of the municipalities), Prince Albert Grand Council leadership, MLA Jim Lemaigre, and the board and management teams from the four economic entities in the Athabasca region (Black Lake Ventures, Hatchet Lake Development, Fond du Lac Development and Athabasca Basin Development) attended a knowledge-sharing session about the different ways economic development is being done in the region. 

Chief Clarence Louie attended as the keynote lunch speaker. He talked about the experiences at Osoyoos, a First Nation from BC that has achieved high levels of employment and has ownership in numerous successful businesses. Signed copies of his book, Rez Rules, were given away in a draw to a few lucky winners. 

In addition to Chief Louie, Tiffany Toutsaint, Terri-Lynn Beavereye, Anne Robillard and Geoff Gay from each of the economic development entities spoke about their activities, and Dean Classen from Uranium City spoke about examples of economic activities from northern settlements. Vern Bachiu discussed three types of Indigenous Economic Development Models and Kim Biehm from Indigenous Services Canada talked about funding programs. Ed Benoanie from Hatchet Lake started the day with opening remarks, Chief Kevin Mercredi from Fond du Lac and Chief Bart Tsannie from Hatchet Lake provided closing remarks, and Mayor Daniel Powder of Stony Rapids provided the closing prayer. 

“It was an excellent opportunity for everyone in the Athabasca to learn from each other,” said Terri-Lynn Beavereye, Executive Director of Black Lake Ventures. “It was really valuable to have the PAGC and leadership and the other economic development boards together in a room. It’s helpful to learn what everyone is up to. I learned a lot from the others and I learned a lot from Chief Clarence Louie. I went home thinking I should put some of his sayings up on my wall! The whole event was very motivating.” 

Sixty-five attendees were present throughout the day. In the evening, there was a social and networking event for participants and others. Over 120 people attended the social event. 

Event feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. We are grateful to Graham Construction, who sponsored the lunchtime speaker for the event and helped to make this important event happen. 

Tiffany Toutsaint, Manager for Fond du Lac Development LP, speaks about economic development activities on the Fond du Lac First Nation.
Chief Clarence Louis from the Osoyoos Indian Band was the keynote speaker