It was not an announcement with the greatest fanfare, but it was one which should have huge benefits for Yorkton and area moving forward.
Transactions was a conference which promoted collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. It ran for two years in 2010 and 2011 under a partnership between Yorkton Tribal Conference YTC) and the now-defunct Saskatchewan East Enterprise Region (SEER).
With the province abolishing SEERs the YTC was left without a partner and the 2012 version of Transactions did not achieve the sort of success organizers were hoping for.
But then along came a new partner, one which makes sense from a local business perspective.
Juanita Polegi, Yorkton Chamber of Commerce executive director approached Dale Domres, YTC director of economic development.
“The chamber itself had an interest in what Transactions was trying to accomplish,” Polegi said in a March 13 Yorkton This week story. “One of the mandates of the chamber is to promote a regional approach to economic development.”
The partnership is really an obvious one.
A drive around our city quickly identifies a need here, employees. There are still ‘help wanted’ signs in many business windows and with new businesses, such as three hotels, set to open soon, the employee squeeze will only get tighter.
That said unemployment among First Nations people still runs higher than among non-Aboriginals.
The local business need for employees would naturally be expected to be met in large part from among the high number of unemployed First Nations people.
But there have been barriers to that being the answer, from education, and training to a lack of cultural tolerance and outright racism.
That is where an annual conference such as Transactions can be an important tool in forging new connections between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
It is important the two communities better understand the needs and limitations of the other in order to work toward common solutions which will lead to First Nations people being more fully engaged in the local economy.
For the local Chamber to recognize the role they can play as a business organization partnering on the Conference speaks to local business recognizing the potential which exists within the First Nations community, and to a willingness to work together to make it work.
The YTC also obviously recognizes jobs and careers are essential to the future of First Nations families.
It is hoped that joining forces on the Transactions Conference becomes a foundation of bringing the communities together for the economic betterment of both.