Indigenous Agriculture Opportunities in Regina

As an Indigenous woman working in the world of economic development, my thoughts never stray too far from the question “how can this benefit my community?” Last week, at an incredibly successful Canadian Western Agribition, I had the opportunity to attend the 9th Annual Indigenous Agriculture Summit (IAS), as I did in 2021, and all week long I was wondering how I can help make an economical difference in Indigenous communities.

With that in mind, here are my Indigenous-geared take-aways from this year’s event and how or why they apply to the work of agencies like EDR:

Agriculture is becoming increasingly important to the Indigenous economy.
Not only are Indigenous people reclaiming farming and ranching, but they’re also doing it in a sustainable way that provides sovereignty and security to Indigenous nations. After all, Indigenous peoples are the original environmentalists that practice a “from the earth back to the earth” mentality. In the future, it’s conceivable that nations could lead the way in advancements like smart farming or indoor farming. Key to making this vision a reality is finding ways to ensure nations have better access to land and appropriate funding. That’s where EDR comes in.

What can EDR do?

    1. Connect established farmers/ranchers to interested Indigenous nations
    2. Identify manufacturing spinoff opportunities from the farming/ranching work already taking place
    3. Explore and identify government policy and funding opportunities for nations
    4. Work with key businesses (like Precision AI and Protein Industries Canada) in Treaty 4 and/or the GRA to identify opportunities that benefit ranchers and farmers

The renewable energy and gas sector can provide a strong and stable future.
First Nations Power Authority is looking to work with provinces across Canada to further their renewable energy projects. The solar and nuclear power sectors provide real opportunities for Indigenous communities to own businesses and work in the industry. Hiring Indigenous people brings jobs and salaries into the reserves, creating prosperity and economic sovereignty.

What can EDR do?

    1. Work with post-secondary institutions to identify labour force gaps that help to fuel the future employment requirements
    2. Attend the FNPA’s 7th Annual Indigenous Clean Energy Forum in June 2023 to learn more and connect with Indigenous leaders in the environment, sustainability, and Growth (ESG) sector

Carbon credits can be a source of revenue.
Much of the land on reserves is already capturing carbon. Nations could sell these carbon credits, generating money that can be reinvested directly into the community to further their economic sovereignty.

What can EDR do?

    1. Dig deeper into the carbon capture world and learn more about the ethics and advantages of these opportunities for communities in Treaty 4 and the GRA

There are many opportunities for Indigenous communities to explore.
Everything from grain farming and bison and cattle ranching to traditional Indigenous agriculture, pet food, leather works, and niche livestock sectors (like goats), there are endless opportunities for Indigenous communities to work toward economic development on their lands. Again, the major obstacles here are land and money – and that one of them is often missing from the equation.

What can EDR do?

    1. Build better and stronger relationships with the Treaty 4 Nations; listen to what they need; and work with them to identify opportunities that make sense to their communities
    2. Harness the power of EDR’s Chief Economist to share market scans to identify opportunities and provide resources to Indigenous entrepreneurs looking to start, grow and/or expand their businesses

There are many reserves that are already seeing economic development success. During the Summit, Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie recounted his nearly 40 years of chiefdom working toward the economic development of his reserve – work that ultimately led to his community’s economic independence and sovereignty.

What can EDR do?

    1. Get familiar with the current economic state of reserves in Saskatchewan and see what they’re doing and how they measure success
    2. Help the nations work together so that all of them can find success
    3. Work with Chiefs and Indigenous business leaders to identify obstacles impacting sustainable practices and labour force development

My experience at this year’s IAS was positive and provided a lot of hope. There were some fruitful conversations happening in the room and each presenter provided some very real and very achievable opportunities. The trick for economic development of Indigenous communities, alongside EDRs commitment to economic reconciliation, will be dedicating time and resources to learning and understanding the landscape of Indigenous relations and communities, alongside the economic status of each reserve in Treaty 4 territory.

As an economic development agency, it’s EDR’s job to have our finger on the pulse of the GRA. Saskatchewan’s Indigenous population is one of the fastest growing populations with the greatest potential. If we can help to eliminate some of the obstacles and barriers facing this population group by working with them to identify and deliver on economic opportunities, then EDR will truly deliver on our promise to regarding economic reconciliation. What is good for our Indigenous population will not only have a significant impact in Indigenous communities but will also have a positive effect on the economic architecture of the GRA.


Chelsea Low, Senior Communications Manager, Economic Development Regina