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"The Corporate Circle will be an important starting point for practical, profitable partnerships," said Chief Bellegarde. The Circle will be used to provide focus, planning, training and partnerships to create economic development for First Nations, business and government.
"Ron Clarke, chief executive officer of Sask Energy has agreed to co-chair the FSIN Corporate Circle," said Chief Bellegarde. "Sask Energy has been one of the most progressive employers when it comes to working with First Nations on employment, training and economic issues. FSIN welcomes that support and they welcome that commitment and the commitment shown by Mr. Clarke to these processes."
"Mr. Clarke and I will be sending invitations out to a number of Saskatchewan businesses in the coming weeks inviting them to consider the benefits of taking their seat at this FSIN Corporate Circle," said Chief Bellegarde.
"Saskatchewan First Nations and the institutions that they have created are leaders in the country in economic activity and business development," said Chief Bellegarde. That type of leadership goes back 30, 40 years and the foresight has been provided by strong leadership.
"We see the First Nations Bank, the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, all these things we have in this region are models to the rest of Canada," said Chief Bellegarde.
"It can be very, very easy for all of us to be immobilized by negative statistics that we can't change," said Mr. Clarke referring to the 1997 demographic studies of First Nations. "It reveals our interdependence and demonstrates how absolutely imperative it is that we work together. Accepting the status quo is simply not an option."
"The FSIN and Saskatchewan business leaders coming together to look at the implications of business, training and development opportunities that (are) essential to your success and our success as a province," said Mr. Clarke.
"Working together is the Saskatchewan way. My hope is that spirit of community and cooperation of positive partnership is what has helped build this province. Many of the things that have built this province can be used again in the challenges that lay ahead," said Mr. Clarke.
"My hope is that many of the businesses, in the weeks and months ahead, will come forward to be a part of the circle, to be part of progressive, meaningful change for all us," said Mr. Clarke.
Deputy Premier Dwain Lingenfelter applauded the process and planning by FSIN and pledged $25,000 in seed money for the fist year of the Corporate Circle citing the casinos as a example of positive economic growth and a model of corporate planning and co-operation.
"It will be a first for our province," said Chief Bellegarde, "and it will be an important signal that we are shifting away from an ad hoc approach to a more proactive planning, to a more in-depth consultation process."