Indigenous Women and the Economy: Successes and Challenges

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Indigenous Women and the Economy: Successes and Challenges

As Canada continues to struggle with decolonization, it is important to consider how we move forward together in a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.

Emphasizing Indigenous communities’ and peoples’ knowledge and experience is an essential part of truth and reconciliation, and essential to constructing a vision of our shared economic future.

On April 19, Carol Anne Hilton, the CEO of Transformation International and Founder of the Indigenomics Institute, and Devon Fiddler, CEO and Chief Changemaker of SheNative Goods Inc., joined us to discuss their successes and challenges navigating the economy as Indigenous women, and their views on where we might go from here.

During her presentation, Hilton explained, “The narrative within the media is strictly (about) economic growth, and a ‘No’ from First Nations,” complicates that narrative. She further stated, “But what was missing from that (narrative) was this relation to an Indigenous worldview: What was behind the ‘No’?”

This question led to the formation of the Indigenomics Institute by Hilton, who went on to describe Indigenomics as: “A new word. It is intended to serve as a tool to insert into local, regional, national, and global consciousness on the importance of the Indigenous relationship and its role in the modern economy.”

“Indigenomics is about honoring the powerful thinking of Indigenous wisdom within the local and national development.”

Historically, Indigenous contributions to the economy have been devalued, resulting in reduced fiscal resources for Indigenous entrepreneurs. The undervaluing of indigenous enterprises has also reduced confidence among the next generation of entrepreneurs. Devon Fiddler, however, had a hopeful message for Indigenous entrepreneurs:

“You can make a difference, (with) whatever you plan on doing. I know that you have it within yourself.”

Fiddler’s vision for SheNative Goods as a “catalyst to transform public perceptions of Indigenous women by sharing stories, conveying cultural teachings, building empathy, and accentuating hope for positive change,” is an example of Indigenomics in practice.

As a sign of this emerging interest and support for Indigenous entrepreneurship, Councillor, Kristyn Wong-Tam, announced the Toronto-based Indigenous District: an initiative intended to create a business district in downtown Toronto where Indigenous businesses and cultural centres can thrive. An initiative that Fiddler enthusiastically endorsed, and indicated she would like SheNative Goods to be a part of.

To see more of this talk, view the videos below. 

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