Billie Fortier Q&A
What do you find most interesting, exciting, or surprising about the future of economic partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses or organizations?
I think we are moving beyond the “check the box” mentality and instead of moving towards a space where non-Indigenous businesses seek out partnerships with Indigenous businesses because they see them as equal partners and, quite simply, good at what they do. I am also excited to see Indigenous communities and businesses diversify their investments and hold significant interests in major projects across Canada, including renewable and conventional energy, natural resources, commercial development, hospitality, tourism, technology, and the arts.
What role do organizations like yours play in empowering Indigenous economies? What other support or changes (outside of your organization)?
The lack of access to financing remains a significant roadblock to the progress and advancement of Indigenous businesses.
What would it be if there was any advice you could provide Canadian businesses interested in (or in the beginning stages of) partnering with Indigenous communities?
As my mother always says, don’t ask what you can do for Indigenous peoples, ask what you can learn from Indigenous peoples. This is a good place to start when building relationships.
Fast forward to the future, what would a successful Indigenous Economy look like?
I think the idea of a successful Indigenous economy will look different for each community. For some communities, such as an urban reserve, it might look like the opportunity to develop commercial real estate and large-scale projects and create successful businesses while creating work, training, and advancement opportunities for their members. For a Metis community or band in a very remote area of Canada, it might look like the unimpeded right to hunt and harvest within their traditional territory or Treaty territory, without the risk of industrial development adversely impacting those rights, so that their members can support their local economies in a sustainable way while keeping their traditional knowledge vibrant.