Workshop Descriptions & Speakers

This page is being updated regularly as speakers and panelists are finalized.

“Is Your Community Prepared for a Disaster?”

Leann Hackman-Carty, Economic Developers Alberta

Is your community prepared for a disaster? Are you prone to floods, fires, tornados, or other types of disasters?

When a disaster hits, it impacts individuals, families, businesses and communities. No one is immune. Communities across North America are struggling to respond, recover and become more resilient to disasters. It is important for Indigenous communities to:

  • Develop resilience plans before disasters strike;
  • Know resilience doesn’t just depend on your own capabilities, but on the strength of your stakeholder network;
  • Anticipate scenarios, draw up plans, and practice them in advance.

This session will address those important issues. The panel will highlight some of the challenges, opportunities and best practices out there for communities to take advantage of. In particular, Leann will provide case examples of how some Indigenous communities are addressing this issue in North America. As an Indigenous EDO, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to be prepared. This session will help you do that.

Leann Hackman-Carty, CEO, Economic Developers Alberta & Canadian President, Institute for Sustainable Development (Calgary, Canada). Leann has been the CEO of Economic Developers Alberta since 2009. In 2014, she completed a project with 11 Alberta flood impacted communities. In 2016-17, she worked with the Fort McMurray region on business and economic recovery by setting up and operating the business hotline; validating businesses for Red Cross emergency relief; and leading a 10-member economic recovery assessment team to the region. In 2019 she updated the Community Toolkit for Economic Recovery and Resiliency (Canadian Version)' to help communities prepare for and recover from economic disruptions, and brought the International Economic Development Councils’ resiliency training program to Canada in 2017. In addition to her work at EDA, she heads up HackmanCarty and Associates, which is focused on community capacity building, resilience and recovery. At the end of 2017, she released her “Master Your Disaster” series of guidebooks on Amazon designed to help individuals, businesses and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. In 2018, she received Public Safety Canada’s Emergency Management Exemplary Service Award-Resilient Communities. In her capacity as the Canadian President of the Institute for Sustainable Development (, she works with international experts on innovative long term community recovery and resiliency programs. In April 2019, she added the role as Managing Director (Canada) for Jobenomics ( to address her ongoing desire to “create jobs for everyone” particularly in the wake of a disaster, and hosts MYD Global’s YouTube Channel where she talks “all things disaster”.


“The Changing Nature of Work: Challenges & Opportunities in the Emerging Tech Space”

Christi Olson, Blockchain for Reconciliation

Historically, location and capital have been major barriers for communities when it comes to economic development. While the internet brought things like e-commerce to remote communities, technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are broadening the scope and lowering the cost of what is possible. In this workshop, we will cover how different types of technology can be leveraged for economic development and education, as well as how they can be used to preserve traditional culture and promote sovereignty.

Christi Olson is the co-founder of Blockchain for Reconciliation; a non-profit promoting Indigenous inclusion in the emerging tech space. We are membership-based, non-partisan and are unable to operate unless our board is at least 50% Indigenous. Our primary focus is education. For Indigenous communities we provide free consulting on what exists and how it can be used, as well as advice on implementation. On the tech side, we provide companies with training on best practices and how to start thinking in terms of collaboration, not colonization.


“Building Human Resource Capacity to Support Indigenous Economic Development”

Dr. Wendi Adair & Chloe Adie, University of Waterloo
& Dr. Catherine Kwantes, Twiladawn Stonefish, Alisha Jacobs & Cathy Burr, University of Windsor

Consistent with Cando’s mission to ‘’build’’ capacity which strengthens Indigenous economies’’ and ‘’to invest in our young people because these are the leaders who will be taking the helm of our future,’’ this symposium features three presentations from a collaborative team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students who are examining how Indigenous wisdom translates into effective organizational and human resource management practices. The students are being trained in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, learning four core skill areas: psychological and social influences on work behaviour, understanding human performances in the workplace, optimizing human resources, and understanding organizational climate and processes. By learning, understanding and applying Indigenous worldviews to an organizational context as part of the Indigenous Workways projects, these students aim to build capacity in Indigenous and non-Indigenous owned businesses to support Indigenous youth with their transition into the workforce, maintaining employment, and career advancement. By utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach that involves participating knowledge sharing, community engagement, and Indigenous methods, the Indigenous Workways project ultimately hopes that our research will create psychologically safe workspaces, respectful organizational communication tools, and sustainable Indigenous alumni networks.

Catherine Kwantes is professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Director of the Culture and Organizational Research Centre at the University of Windsor.  She received an MSc in Clinical Psychology, and MA and PhD degrees in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.  Her area of research is on the intersection of societal and organizational cultures, and how societal cultures affect perceptions of trustworthiness in organizations, workplace interactions, and employee attitudes. She has given lectures to audiences around the world, taught in numerous countries, and provided consultative services to organizations in North America and Asia.  She has lived and worked in Canada, Japan, India, and the USA.

Wendi L. Adair, PhD is Director of the Culture at Work Lab and Professor of Organizational Psychology at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. Professor Adair’s current research examines the impact of culture on communication, for example what is said and what is not said, and interdependent work outcomes, such as communication effectiveness, conflict resolution, trust, and team performance. She also investigates culture and the self at work, examining work values, the meaning of work, and adaptation in multicultural teams.

Twiladawn Stonefish is an Applied Social Psychology doctoral student whose research has taken her to an exploration of psychological safety, trust, and fit in the workplace. Her recent internship experience as an Indigenous Relations Advisor at a national energy corporation has provided additional support that in order for mutually beneficial relationships to be developed between Indigenous communities and mainstream corporations, trust and psychologically safety must be present. She hopes her work will pave the way for genuine reconciliation as we move forward together as a nation.

Alisha Jacobs is a member of the Delaware Nation – Moravian of the Thames. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Finance from the University of Guelph and a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management from Fanshawe College. She is currently in her third year at the University of Windsor pursuing an Honours Psychology with Thesis B.A. with a minor in Philosophy.

Cathy Burr is currently in her second year of her master’ program in applied social psychology and is supervised by Professor Catherine T. Kwantes. Her role in the Indigenous Workways project is as project coordinator - University of Windsor. Cathy has previous experience coordinating large projects as she was the project coordinator for the International Trustworthiness Study and is still involved in projects emerging from it.

Chloe Addie is currently a master’s student in industrial/organizational psychology at the University of Waterloo. She is contributing to the Indigenous Workways project by studying conflict management styles. Specifically, Chloe is working with Indigenous employees in Southwestern Ontario to understand their preferences for and experiences with conflict in the workplace. Indigenous workers have not been considered within this literature thus far and stand within distinct cultures and communities.


“Creating Connections: A Workshop on Exploring Co-operatives”

Trista Pewapisconias & Aasa Marshall, Co-operatives First

This workshop offers community and business leaders practical insight into how to explore co-operative business opportunities and work with groups interested in structuring their business as a co-operative. Participants gain a deeper understanding of the business model, explore real-life case studies as a group and leave with a clear understanding of where the model might fit as a problem-solving tool for the communities they work in. This workshop is accredited by the Economic Developers Association of Canada.

As an advocate for economic, business, and community development in rural and Indigenous communities, Co-operatives First provides the tools and connections group entrepreneurs need to start a co-operative business and help their communities grow and thrive. Indigenous Relations Lead, Trista Pewapisconias, is a member of the Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan.   Trista works alongside community members with their co-operative projects through business development and planning. Trista’s professional experience includes various marketing roles, as well as writing business plans for start-up Indigenous companies.  In her free time, Trista also sits on the board of the Saskatoon Downtown Early Learning Centre and the Indigenous Chamber of Commerce of Saskatchewan.

Aasa Marshall is the Communications Lead with Co-operatives First. Her work focuses on creating and editing content to spread the word about co-operatives and how people can use them to benefit their communities.   Originally from rural Saskatchewan, Aasa has a background in journalism and a Masters of Public Policy from the U of S. In addition to her work at Co-operatives First, Aasa serves on the board of a local non-profit organization that provides services to newcomers.


“Entrepreneurship Ecosystem & Support Practices”

Emilie Fortin-Lefebvre, Université du Québec à Montréal
& Mickel Robertson, First Nations of Quebec & Labrador Economic Development Commission

First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC) provides training and technical support to Community Economic Development Officers (CEDOs). This workshop aims to present an overview of a research done in collaboration with University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) that reflects on the importance of questioning our own practices. As Indigenous entrepreneurship faces several obstacles that delay its development, especially during the pre-startup period of the company, it brings particular challenges to CEDOs and economic development. Especially, these challenges bring major dilemmas between the standardization of approaches and the need for adaptation and flexibility required by Indigenous realities.

Emilie Fortin-Lefebvre is a Professor in entrepreneurship and management at University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). She received her PhD in Management from University of Quebec in Montreal and her M.Sc. in Local and International Development from the University of Sherbrooke. Today, her research projects focus on entrepreneurial practices in marginalized contexts and her area of expertise includes Quebec’s First Nations and Food Sovereignty in Haïti. She is also a member of the Center for research on social innovations – CRISES and is currently working to develop a center of expertise on Indigenous economic autonomy.

Mr. Mickel Robertson is a member of the Innu community of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam and an economist by training. Based on several years of experience as a commercial banker, he, over the past few years, held various functions within the Royal Bank of Canada, including the post of Commercial Account Manager and responsible for First Nations market in Quebec. Mr. Robertson is the Director General of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC) since September 2016. The FNQLEDC is a Wendake based organization devoted to the support and the training of CEDO, first nation entrepreneurs and communities of Quebec and Labrador. The FNQLEDC also serves as the economic development arm of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec Labrador. Mr. Robertson is also serving as director on the board of the Chantier de l’économie social, a non-profit organization devoted to social economy, and as president of New Pathways Foundation, a foundation devoted to the first nation youth’s development and well being.


“Plan & Prosper - 7 Ways to Cultivate Resiliency for Your Business”

Mathieu Lipari, Farm Management Canada

Agriculture provides 1 in 8 jobs in Canada and contributes 7% to the GDP. The opportunities for agriculture have never been greater, as we need farmers to feed our growing domestic and international population. Heather will walk you through the 7 management practices driving farm business success to continue to contribute to the economic, social, cultural and environmental prosperity of our nation. Heather will share the opportunities available to become involved in farming, and the resources available to entrepreneurs to unleash your potential in the agricultural sector.

Mathieu joined the team in 2010 as a Project Manager and brought with him an excellent grasp of the challenges of agriculture in Canada and overseas. He manages a variety of successful projects at Farm Management Canada that provide farmers with business management tools and resources. Prior to joining the team, Mathieu worked in similar roles for the International Development Research Centre and for Guelph University and has managed agriculture projects in North and Central America, Europe and Africa. Mathieu holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Québec in Montreal, Québec and a Technical Degree in Agriculture from the University of Guelph.


“Separating Business, Politics & Building Sustainability”

Sam Minde, Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies Inc.

Separating business from politics is one small step to rebuilding your economic development.   The Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies has a story that looks to the past, acts in the present and builds a foundation for future of economic development in their Nation.  Building sustainability means self sufficiency and returns on investment that is more than just profit margins.  We measure job creation, economic leakage, modernization of commercial buildings and human resource capacity development.  NGCI was created to benefit the Ermineskin Cree Nation citizens, but we are impacting our community and the region. 

Mr. Minde is President and CEO of Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies Inc. He has years of experience advising and sitting on Boards.  He holds a Bachelor of Management and an MBA.  Mr. Minde also served a term as Councilor for the Ermineskin Cree Nation. Mr. Minde leads business development with startups, acquisitions, and JV’s. NGCI business development strategy is managing the Nation’s existing business assets and transform them into sustainable profitable businesses.  NGCI manage 12 businesses, employ 50 citizens and generate millions in revenues.  Since establishment, economic development has revitalized the Nations business core and energized the Nations citizens.  


“Creating Market Access for Entrepreneurs”

Stacia Kean, Canadian Executive Services Organization

Stacia’s presentation will give a brief introduction to CESO, a not-for-profit organization focusing on economic development by growing sustainable, inclusive businesses, and strengthening government infrastructure. As the Director of CESO’s Indigenous Services, Stacia will illustrate the lessons learned that have helped to facilitate market access for Northern and remote Indigenous-led businesses through its comprehensive mentorship program. As part of this discussion, Stacia will highlight the importance of market access as a key component  to supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

Stacia Kean has been actively involved in the community economic development sector for over ten years. As Director of CESO’s Indigenous Services, she is a dedicated leader determined to nurture knowledge-sharing relationships between CESO and Indigenous peoples in Canada. Her work in micro-finance and peer lending models, as well as distance learning and business training, has built capacity in women and youth in remote communities across Canada, and has been recognized by various renowned organizations. Her extensive volunteer work has included numerous appointments to Boards and Steering Committees. 

“How to Bridge the Digital & Social Divide and Build Economies in Remote Communities”

Sharon Marshall, Cree8iv Collaboration Inc.

We will have a Zoom session webinar where everyone participates online on Zoom, which is like Skype. I will introduce Miro, an online whiteboard used for team collaboration. It’s cutting edge software that allows you to collaborate with your team to:

• Organize your thoughts and ideas
• Mind map
• Use a Kanban interactive template
• Create a user story map framework
• Design a customer journey map
• Create a concept map
• Prepare a business model canvas
• Share your interactive ideas via video and audio

I see this software as an application that can take EDOs and their teams to the next level.

Sharon Marshall is a Metis/Cree entrepreneur with 30+ years experience in office administration and 14+ years as a virtual assistant, providing administrative, creative and technical support to individuals and organizations globally. Having recently self-identified as Indigenous, Sharon is learning about her ancestry, and in doing so, she feels compelled to help other Indigenous women find their voice. She has created Canada’s first 20-week online digital literacy and virtual support training pilot, including a four-week paid practicum. Currently training five Indigenous women across Canada, when the DEVAs are finished, they will form Canada’s first Indigenous temp agency.

“Saving the Forestry Sector with Economic Partnerships”

Trevor Cootes, Huu-ay-aht First Nations

In 2019, Huu-ay-aht purchased 7% ownership interest in the local forestry operations with the goals of achieving long-term sustainability, and providing training, economic benefits and well-paying jobs for its people. Through cooperative management, the path was cleared to revitalize the forestry sector while ensuring operations meet the standards of Huu-ay-aht’s forestry principles. This workshop will explore lessons learned about growing businesses, engaging in partnerships, and facilitating training and employment opportunities that will enable better participation in economic activities.

Currently serving his second term as an elected member of Executive Councilor for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Trevor Cootes holds the Economic Development, with Training & Employment, and External Affairs portfolios for the nation. Trevor has two decades of experience working in various areas of tourism, including hospitality, adventure guiding, culture, retail, as well as being an events coordinator and educator. He is also co-chair of the Cooperative Management Board for Pacific Rim National Park and a Director of Indigenous Tourism BC.



“Indigenous Opportunities in Agriculture & Agri-Food, From Farm to Fork”

Shaun Soonias, Farm Credit Canada

Agriculture represents one of the greatest opportunities for Indigenous economic development.  Indigenous communities are stewards over vast tracts of land and water and are uniquely well positioned to move from Land Lessors to Leaders in Agriculture. Farm Credit Canada possesses a full spectrum of agricultural expertise and lending tools and we are committed to working with Indigenous governments, economic development corporations and entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector from the farm to fork and everything in-between. Please join FCC in learning how we can partner to build Indigenous food sovereignty and solidify Canada’s place as the breadbasket to the world.

Shaun Soonias is a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan which is located in Treaty Six Territory west of Battleford, Sk.  Shaun is a board member with Red Pheasant`s Economic Development Corporation.  Shaun is the Director, Indigenous Relations with Farm Credit Canada. Shaun has 25 years of experience in social and economic development having held senior positions with the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network, Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Saskatchewan Advocate for Children & Youth and University of Saskatchewan and Department of Justice. Shaun is a partner in two companies, NutraPonics Canada Corporation which focuses on food production and NGK Biologix which focuses on medical marijuana production through commercial, hyper-organic, in-door vertical farming based on aquaponics. 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.


“The Rise of a New Ecosystem to Support Women Entrepreneurs"

Emmanuel Bertrand-Gavin, First Nations of Quebec & Labrador Economic Development Comission

In 2013, women with business ideas would stay at the intention stage for several years. They would not talk about their project to anyone. Very few women even allowed themselves to think of business project. The women entrepreneur service at the FNQLEDC represents 6 years of development. We have identified, documented, consulted and proposed solutions to improve the ecosystem that supports women entrepreneurs. This process led us to create the first dedicated service. The demand for this service is very high. Presentation will highlight the development process and its impacts.

Emmanuel Bertrand-Gauvin is in charge of the Business Women Services at the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC, The objective is to mobilize women and to accompany them in the implementation of strategies that will make a difference in economic opportunities. More generally, his work seeks to optimize local, regional and national resources to help improve the living conditions of First Nations people. Consultation, mobilisation and innovation are the key issues. He has a Master’s Degree in Economic Anthropology, specializing in the practices of pension fund managers and more generally on the redistribution of wealth.