Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson
Chapter 3: Shattering Misconceptions
Wanda W. Wuttunee In what circumstances can individual entrepreneurship thrive in communities with a collective perspective? Most people have no idea of the level of Aboriginal entrepreneurial activity that exists today.1 Nor is there any understanding or appreciation for the way Aboriginal economic approaches operate in the context of capitalism. Community strategies currently employed will be examined in several communities located in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, two neighbouring Canadian provinces. The misconceptions examined include that Canada’s Aboriginal peoples are not involved in commerce. If they are involved, then Aboriginal business peoples are absorbed in the capitalist system, leaving behind all traditional values, and ﬁnally collectivity has no place in a successful economy. It is important to understand the complexity and variety in which Aboriginal communities are organized. Economic activity takes place by the individual citizen or through band-owned businesses. Political and economic organization are often intertwined. On the Canadian prairies, Aboriginal communities group themselves into regions headed by regional political leaders at the tribal council level and then some tribal councils are grouped into a grand tribal council. Complementary economic strategies permeate all levels in most cases. Canada’s league of Aboriginal entrepreneurs is growing in leaps and bounds (nine times the rate of Canadian business) in all sectors of the economy. Their work encompasses traditional harvesting activities, manufacturing and technology. More than 27 000 independent business owners disclosed their existence in the recent government census (Aboriginal Business Canada, 2003). Policy makers, government oﬃcials, business leaders and future leaders seriously underestimate...
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