Tomorrow is National Aboriginal Day in Canada, a time to pause and reflect about the rich legacy of indigenous people in Canada.
It is estimated that there are over 5,000 indigenous globally. Event and meeting planners can greatly enrich local and foreign corporate events by showcasing indigenous cultures when possible.
Event planners can also learn important lessons for working with indigenous communities from National Aboriginal Day events in Canada and the World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF) that has been taking place annually around the world since 2010.
On National Aboriginal Day, Canadians celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and significant contributions of Canada's First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples. Throughout the country, there will be pow-wows, arts and crafts fairs, barbecues, runs, tributes to Aboriginal veterans, concerts, fireworks, and, in Ottawa, a Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival.
World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF), an annual business event organized by the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute Inc. (ILDII), a nonprofit organization based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, promotes entrepreneurship and provides leadership development opportunities for indigenous communities. Delegates from over 50 countries explore global trends and entrepreneurial opportunities in mining, textiles, technology, power generation, construction, agriculture, and the service sector.
WIBF took shape during the Nation to Nation Forum hosted by the Yavapai Nation in Arizona in 2009. The inaugural forum was held in New York City in 2010. Since then, New York City, Sydney, Australia, and Windhoek, Namibia have hosted the annual forum. In 2015, the World Indigenous Business Forum will be held in Oahu, Hawaii.
This year, from October 28 to 30, 2014, entrepreneurs and business leaders from indigenous communities around the world will gather in Guatemala City for the 5th World Indigenous Business Forum.
During every aspect of event planning from the press events to the forum, members of indigenous communities in the host countries are involved and cultural traditions are respected.
For example, the day before the press event for this year's forum, a traditional sunrise ceremony welcomed event organizers. Maderas de mi Tierra, a local marimba band, welcomed the group for the press event on Thursday, May 8 at the National Palace in Guatemala City.
A reception was followed by a luncheon catered by youth from Centro Cultural de las Americas, an indigenous culinary institute. Over 300 guests were treated to a showcase of indigenous Guatemalan cuisine including tostaditas de frijoles, chuchitos, Tamalitos of Cambray, Figs in Honey. Beverages included horchata (a rice drink) and Rosa de Jamaica (beverage made of flowers which is known as sorrel and served at Christmas in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean).
To ensure authenticity, this year, ILDII has been working with 2 event planners from indigenous communities: Luis Velasquez, Principal Consultant, Consultoria Internacional and Luis Tepeu Pirir, President, Union of Business Indigenous Guatemaya.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina will open WIBF at the Welcome Reception during which Guatemalan indigenous youth joined by youth from First Nations and Metis communities in Canada will engage in a cultural exchange and showcase.
A line-up of over 30 speakers from around the globe, including Namibia, Norway, and Canada. At the VIP reception on the final evening, Nick Jardine, Australian-born head contractor on season 1 of Canada's popular TV show Love it or List it Vancouver, will present the keynote.
These models show that, by partnering with local indigenous leaders, involving youth, and incorporating local music, dance, and cuisine, corporate events can give participants deeper insight into a destination's culture in a way that respects rich traditions that date back thousands of years.