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Jody Wilson-Raybould draws crowd at indigenous conference in Whitehorse

Event also honoured indigenous-owned businesses and non-indigenous firms with indigenous partners

Former attorney general and justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, drew a large crowd for her keynote speech at the sixth annual Arctic Indigenous Investment Conference, held in Whitehorse on May 9 and 10.

Her hour-long presentation kicked off the conference, organized by the Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce, and introduced concepts from her 2022 book True Reconciliation.

According to organizers, Wilson-Raybould’s keynote was attended by the premier, mayor and grand chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations.

“Our seated capacity for Jody’s speech was around 228, but we had a bunch of people standing in the back. There were probably closer to 300 people for her session,” Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce executive director Mellisa Murray told the News.

“It was also really cool to see how the rest of the sessions and panel discussions that came after her keynote quoted parts of her presentation.”

The conference concluded with a sold-out gala honouring Indigenous-owned businesses and non-Indigenous firms that partner with Indigenous communities.

Adanchilla Designs was honoured with the Indigenous Youth Achievement of the Year 2022 award at the sixth annual Arctic Indigenous Investment Conference’s gala on May 10 in Whitehorse. (Courtesy/Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce)
Adanchilla Designs was honoured with the Indigenous Youth Achievement of the Year 2022 award at the sixth annual Arctic Indigenous Investment Conference’s gala on May 10 in Whitehorse. (Courtesy/Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce)

Six awards were handed out across four categories at the awards ceremony, honouring businesses for their performance in 2022.

First People’s Coffee and Kaska Dena Designs were presented with the Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Yukon Seed & Restoration and North Star Agriculture were awarded the title Community Champion of the Year, and the award for Indigenous Youth Achievement was given to Adanchilla Designs.

READ MORE: Yukon coffee company educates on Indigenous culture

Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation took home the Top Indigenous Business of the Year title, the gala’s final award.

Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation won the title of Top Indigenous Business of the Year 2022 at the gala on May 10 in Whitehorse. (Courtesy/Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce)
Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation won the title of Top Indigenous Business of the Year 2022 at the gala on May 10 in Whitehorse. (Courtesy/Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce)

According to organizers, the event is important for highlighting the work being done by indigenous business leaders and entrepreneurs across the Yukon and the broader northern region of the continent.

“It’s called the Arctic Indigenous Investment Conference, so we try to highlight what is happening across the north […], not just in the Yukon. In previous years we’ve had development corporations in Alaska involved, and this year we had dev-corps from Nunavut and N.W.T. speak on some panels,” Murray said.

“[The event] is a good opportunity to share partnerships, success stories and economic reconciliation […] people that come to the conference make a lot of connections. There is a lot of networking and building of relationships.”

The seventh annual Arctic Indigenous Investment Conference is scheduled for May 7 and 8, 2024 and will be themed Bridging the Gap.

READ MORE: 2 Whitehorse entrepreneurs win NACCA Indigenous Business Awards of Excellence

Contact Mathew Bossons at matthew.bossons@yukon-news.com