Aksis, an Aboriginal business and professional association that was launched in Edmonton late last fall, is made of Aboriginal businesses, professionals and students, along with associate non-Aboriginal members that are united in entrepreneurial spirit. The membership-driven, not-for-profit organization has been created to serve as a central meeting point that inspires Edmonton’s Aboriginal business community to connect, collaborate and flourish.
“The initiative took two years of diligence and hard work by our volunteer board of directors,” noted Aksis Executive Director Terry Coyes. It was built on a solid foundation and one that put the organization on the “right track to playing a pivotal role in the growth and development of our members.”
Aksis is growing. With more than 1,750 self-employed Aboriginal citizens in Edmonton and approximately 10,000 Aboriginal professionals working in the city, there is a need for cohesion and for an opportunity to work together and progress together while achieving similar goals.
“We’ve set the bar high,” explained Coyes. “Our goal is to make Edmonton the Aboriginal business capital of Canada. We aim to be an advocate and progressive voice for Aboriginal businesses and professionals in this city, to create a collaborative and inclusive network that allows our members to forge business connections and build relationships, both with each other and with our associate members.”
Aksis is finding new and innovative ways to get the word out about who they are and what they are doing to improve economic opportunities for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses.
Coyes said now is the time for Edmonton and area businesses to reach out and learn more about how they can team up with the Aboriginal business community in Alberta’s capital. To enhance this opportunity, Aksis and Enterprise Edmonton, a division of Edmonton Economic Development, are hosting an Industry Dialogue Session in the Shaw Conference Centre’s Salon 11 on Thursday afternoon, May 29, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
“We’re very pleased to be working with Enterprise Edmonton to co-host this event,” said Coyes, noting that “their involvement will result in a representational cross-section of industry in Edmonton to attend the session and inform us on the best way that we can assist them in their Aboriginal procurement, inclusion and retention efforts. Invitations have been sent out to prospective associate (industry) members, and as an exclusive benefit to our existing members, we are also inviting them to attend and to join the conversation.”
The Industry Dialogue Session comes on the heels of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Event hearings, which took place in Edmonton in late March.
“Aboriginal people are the fastest growing population in Edmonton,” noted Coyes. “As such, harnessing the energy, talent and expertise in the community is a timely topic for all businesses and industries. We encourage Edmonton companies and organizations interested in attracting and retaining Aboriginal employees and/or working with Aboriginal business to attend this important meeting. We also encourage our current members to join us on May 29.”
“This is an opportune time to reach out to Edmonton’s business community to start the conversation on how we can move forward, how Aksis can be of value to them in hiring and retaining more Aboriginal professionals and/or procuring products and services from Aboriginal businesses,” assured Coyes. “This non-political, business-to-business event will allow us to understand the needs of Edmonton’s business community and how to bring more value to them through Aksis’ and Enterprise Edmonton’s respective business and professional services and programs. Business leaders will have the opportunity to share their needs, hear from Aboriginal businesses and professionals, learn more about Aksis and Enterprise Edmonton services and initiatives, and build relationships and a knowledge base that will enhance and improve their businesses.”
Aksis has four membership categories: 1) Aboriginal businesses; 2) Aboriginal Professionals – split into two sub-categories: self-employed professionals in a regulated profession, including occupations such as accountants, lawyers, nurses and others; and employed Aboriginal individuals engaged in managerial occupations/positions in either the public or private sector; 3) Student Membership that is designed for Aboriginal students pursuing a managerial occupation or a professional designation within a regulated profession; and 4) Associate members, which is designed for non-Aboriginal organizations and individuals that support Aboriginal business and professional development.
Aksis has found one more exciting way to attract new members to its fold.
“Aksis’ First Annual Fall Classic Golf Tournament Fundraiser will get underway at The Ranch Golf and Country Club at 8:15 a.m. on Friday, September 19,” explained Coyes. “This fun-filled day-long event is open to everyone and will provide an ideal opportunity to network with key members of industry, government and Edmonton’s Aboriginal business and professional community. Aksis’ Fall Classic will be a new and fresh golf tournament experience, focusing on making connections and networking. Every person who comes out to participate and play golf will go home with a prize, new contacts, and hopefully new business and/or professional development opportunities.”
Registration for the Fall Classic is $210 per player or $840 per team and includes 18 holes of championship golf, driving range privileges, a power cart, a McDivot and coffee breakfast, a barbecue banquet and an assortment of top notch prizes. The course, located at 52516 Range Road 262 in Acheson, Alberta, is situated about five minutes west of Edmonton on Stony Plain Road.
“This golf tournament promises to be one of the highlights of our year,” said Coyes. “We are both pleased and excited to have received very generous prize donations from numerous supporters, including two flight vouchers for any Canadian North destination (valued at up to $4,000), and two non-stop return tickets (location to be determined) from the Edmonton International Airport (valued at approximately $6,000) – both of which we are sure will create a buzz among our members, prospective members and partners.”
The tournament will have various sponsorship levels, some of which are still available. Organizers say the earlier you get involved the better because interest is expected to be high.
“Aksis Golf Tournament Fundraiser sponsors will be acknowledged and included in all advertising material leading up to and at the event, listing in tournament program, inclusion of a corporate logo in a revolving powerpoint slideshow that will be presented during the morning registration, a BBQ banquet and acknowledgement at the banquet by the emcee.”
“Aboriginal business,” noted Coyes, “has made significant contributions when it comes to Edmonton’s identity and that is a trend we plan to enhance even more in the coming months and years. We’ve had a number of key stakeholders show interest in Aksis and we are working together with a number of industry and academic institutions. Dialogue with new and prospective partners continue as our membership grows.”
Terry Coyes is a Métis Canadian, hailing from the L’Hirondelle river lot on the west end of Big Lake near St. Albert. He earned his Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Alberta and obtained a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) designation from the Forum for International Trade Training. He maintains CANDO’s Technician & Professional Level Aboriginal Economic Developer certifications and has successfully operated Coyes & Associates, his independent management consulting business for 17 years in Edmonton, working primarily with Aboriginal businesses and professionals.
Terry is anxious to meet with anyone from Edmonton’s business and professional community to discuss how they can get involved in developing and growing Aksis.
For more information about the May 29 Industry Dialogue Session and/or to register or learn more about the September 19 Fall Classic Golf Tournament Fundraiser click on the “Events” icon on the website at: www.Aksis.ca or call 587-334-3845.
by John Copley