Milton Tootoosis, Director of Livelihood and Economic Dependence at the Office of Treaty Commission, has been an instrumental actor in the development of Indigenous culture since his graduation from First Nations University of Canada in 1985.
A member of Poundmaker Cree Nation, Milton remembers when the teachers, peers, and curriculum at school discouraged him from speaking his Cree language and practicing his traditions.
He says he’s grateful to the university and recommends it to anyone because of its family-like atmosphere and helpful instructors, which instilled pride and a keen interest to continue to learn about and preserve his heritage.
“FNUniv encouraged me to learn about Indigenous traditions, it gave me confidence, optimism, and critical thinking skills that helped develop my career and motivated me to make an impact by giving back to Indigenous communities,” says Milton.
Milton spent 16 years as a cornerstone contributor at the First Nations Employment Centre, where he helped provide jobs for Indigenous people.
He advocated for his clients by going directly to businesses and meeting with employers to demystify and break down stereotypes that Indigenous people are not safe to hire. His efforts proved to these individuals and groups that Indigenous people are outstanding employees, given the right opportunities.
Milton is especially proud to have helped staff all Saskatchewan gaming casinos with Indigenous employees. He even opened doors for more technical jobs at SaskPower with positions such as electricians and power line technicians.
Milton is also the Founder and Chair of Saskatchewan First Nation Economic development network, which is co-hosting the World Indigenous Business Forum.
“We need more local farmers and entrepreneurs to progress from sustenance production into commercial production, and more information on which commodities are in demand,” says Milton.
He is also active on social media, like Twitter, where he regularly tweets informative articles, links, and other news from @miltontootoosis. This keep his followers informed about global economics and Indigenous rights.
Through this, Milton touches on the importance of co-dependence in multiple industries of production and building, and maintaining these relationships.
“We can’t do it on our own,” says Milton.” We need to work together,”
Milton is currently running for council on his home reserve, the Poundmaker Cree Nation, where he hopes to continue his work leading Indigenous communities, specifically his own, toward a prosperous future.