Authors: Marla Orenstein and Sarah Pittman

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This report summarizes the main themes that emerged during Forward Summit – an Indigenous-led, multiday conference dedicated to advancing economic partnerships, discovering opportunities for change and supporting relationships between Canada’s industry leaders and Indigenous communities.

Many Indigenous communities are striving for economic independence – and have made significant gains in recent decades. These advances are critical. Economic development supports self-determination, strong social programs and healthy families. It advances reconciliation by closing the economic gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across the country. It benefits not only Indigenous communities, but all of Canada.

While the path to success is not easy, there are numerous individuals, businesses and communities who are interested in sharing what they have learned.

Forward Summit was held in Calgary from February 26-28, 2019. It brought together community leaders, influencers and business professionals for an exchange of knowledge that was intended to lead to strengthened relationships, economic development and economic reconciliation. Forward Summit featured 29 sessions, 101 speakers and 535 participants.

This report on Forward Summit is divided into two parts. The first part presents the high-level messages that emerged from the various speakers and participants. The second part of the report presents a short description of each of the sessions that took place.

The report is not intended to be a comprehensive study of economic participation and reconciliation in Canada. Rather, it adheres to the stories and learnings that were shared at the event. Wherever possible, quotes have been included (without naming the speaker) to showcase the powerful wording that was used. The box on page 04 shows the main themes that emerged at Forward Summit; the first part of this report explores them in more detail.