It was just last October when aksis, an Aboriginal business and professional association formally launched operations in Edmonton. The organization is made up of Aboriginal businesses, professionals and students, along with associate non-Aboriginal members that are united in entrepreneurial spirit.
“Establishing aksis took 2 years of dedication, diligence and hard work by our volunteer board of directors. We’ve built a solid organizational foundation and we’re on the right track to becoming the central meeting point for Edmonton’s Aboriginal business and professional community, and to playing a pivotal role in the growth and development of our members,” explained aksis Executive Director Terry Coyes. “We’ve already attracted close to three dozen new members and we hope to see that number grow past 200 by the end of year 3.”
With 1,750 self-employed Aboriginals in Edmonton and approximately 10,000 Aboriginal professionals working in the city that
goal is definitely reachable. During the past four months aksis has been involved in several events designed to spread the word about the newly formed organization.
“We’ve set the bar high,” noted 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 currently partnering with various organizations as it works not only to develop and deliver services in response to their members’ needs, but also to assist their members in creating a sustainable entity and atmosphere designed to enhance success and well being.
“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. To make this happen we’re working on training and mentorship programs that will help develop Aboriginal entrepreneurship and professional capacity. We’re also developing initiatives that will help Aboriginal students connect with career mentors and prospective employers. We’ve had some key stakeholders show interest in aksis and we’ve already been involved in a number of initial partnership discussions with both industry and academic institutions.”
Working with these and other institutions and organizations, aksis will strive to foster growth, enhance innovation and create success among Aboriginal business owners, professionals and students in the Edmonton region.
“aksis is a membership driven, not-for-profit organization created to serve as a central meeting point that inspires Edmonton’s Aboriginal business community to connect, collaborate and flourish,” explained Coyes. “As the organization grows, we are finding new and innovative ways to get the word out about who we are and what we are doing. aksis members will have the opportunity to get involved with local community outreach programs where their input can and will make a positive difference in the lives of Aboriginal peoples throughout the region and beyond.”
aksis has a community engagement plan that includes making presentations to Aboriginal students at the post-secondary level. The organization is planning to utilize the expertise of its members as role models by incorporating them in the delivery of motivational talks to students enrolled in and attending local educational institutions.
“Today more Aboriginal students complete their Grade 12 education than ever before, and many choose to follow a career path that often requires a post-secondary education,” noted Coyes. “As a result, more Aboriginal men and women are becoming involved in management, trades, self-employment and in professional careers. We want them to become involved with aksis.”
The future will need young, educated and intelligent leaders; they can be the difference makers, and in doing so will join the tens-of-thousands of others across this nation who are already dispelling the myth that Aboriginal youth cannot succeed. No longer an exception, Aboriginal graduation is real and it is growing. Canada’s Aboriginal population is the fastest-growing in the nation, and the youngest. Aboriginal-owned businesses are springing up every day and a great majority go on to become very successful. Alberta is among the nation’s leaders when it comes to successful Aboriginal entrepreneurs. The formation of aksis, Edmonton’s Aboriginal business and professional association couldn’t have come at a better time.
“aksis has four different types of memberships, so if you have a will to join, you will have little difficulty,” emphasized Coyes.
The Aboriginal Business Membership includes sole proprietors, partnerships and corporations owned and controlled by Aboriginal persons. The Aboriginal Professional Membership category is split into 1) self-employed professionals in a regulated profession, including occupations such as accountants, lawyers, nurses and others; and 2) Aboriginal individuals who are employed in a managerial occupation/position in either the public or private sector.
The Student Membership is designed for Aboriginal students pursuing a managerial occupation or a professional designation within a regulated profession. And the Associate Membership is designed for non-Aboriginal for-profit organizations and government agencies that either want to do business with Aboriginal business or hire Aboriginal professionals or students.
Coyes was brought in as the aksis Executive Director last September. As a Métis Canadian and a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Terry Coyes earned his Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Alberta. He also obtained a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) designation from the Forum for International Trade Training and maintains CANDO’s Technician & Professional Level Aboriginal Economic Developer certifications. Terry has successfully operated Coyes & Associates, his independent management consulting business for 17 years in Edmonton, working primarily with Aboriginal businesses and professionals, and brings this wealth of experience and strong network to aksis.
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 aksis and to learn how you can become a member, check out www.aksis.ca and hit the membership icon. You can also contact aksis at 587-334-3845.
by John Copley