Inspiring. Empowering. Uplifting.
Founded in 2016, the International Indigenous Speakers Bureau (IISB) is the first of its kind where Indigenous speakers and Knowledge-Keepers are provided a platform to share their gifts on a global stage, and where audiences have the opportunity to access the wealth of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives.
The Demand for Indigenous Speakers
With the present demand for Indigenous speakers, unless you know a friend who has a friend, finding an appropriate one can often be difficult and very time-consuming. With access to a huge range of Indigenous talents through IISB you can be sure they will help you find the Indigenous speaker you are looking for. IISB takes the mystery out of the process by providing access to a large, diverse roster of Indigenous speakers.
Another one of the biggest challenges is not just ‘who’ to connect with, but ‘how’. IISB takes special care to provide a welcoming environment for its clients to ask questions and learn. From beginning to end IISB helps clients choose the right speaker, develop a positive speaker-client relationship and do what they can to ensure everyone involved has a successful experience.
Investing in our People
The commitment and support IISB provides to its speakers is unparalleled. Indigenous people come from a world of storytellers and understand the power of the spoken word. Stories can heal, inspire and transform lives. For this reason, much time and care is taken to develop each speaker’s individual story, empowering them to value their gifts and talents, and find their voice. IISB is dedicated to improving the financial sustainability of Indigenous speakers, ensuring Indigenous speakers are seen, heard and valued around the globe, which includes negotiating fair value agreements.
Circle of Honouring
One of the most important mandates of IISB is ensuring Indigenous speakers are honoured appropriately.
Back in the day, when people came to our Indigenous communities sharing their gifts of knowledge, expertise and story, they were honoured to the highest degree. It was an Indigenous way of knowing that when something was given, something of equal or greater value was given back. This ensures sustainability and growth of a community. Back then that meant that the Knowledge-Keeper was well taken care of; they were fed, clothed, housed and their families were taken care of as well. This was also usually for a season, not a day.
Today we cannot go out and shoot a buffalo for someone or invite a family in to live with us, but we can make sure they are able to feed, clothe and shelter their families, and prosper in the process. This means making sure that the gifts the Indigenous speakers are offering are remunerated at par with industry standards and at the same level as non-indigenous speakers.
“When we come from this approach of honouring appropriately, we encourage a process of developing sustainability and growth. We also encourage the development of relationships from a respectful place and avoid coming from the old practice of tokenism,” said Shannon Loutitt, CEO of the IISB.
Speakers and Knowledge-Keepers
IISB speakers cover a plethora of topics including education, health and healing, science (such as genetics and engineering), sport, film, economics, and fashion, just to name a few.
Upon visiting their website you may note a few familiar Canadian Icons like Michelle Thrush (actor) and Andrea Menard (actress/singer), among other global champions.
The Indigenous Lens
Often when people think about what an Indigenous speaker can do for them, they associate that with learning about Indigenous history, culture, dance or legends. Although this can be true if this is what is requested, IISB’s CEO, Shannon Loutitt says Indigenous speakers bring something else that is equally valuable: “They bring their Indigenous lens.”
Indigenous speakers provide a unique perspective on the world we live in, and with it offer a wealth of solutions and insights to many modern-day issues. Science has proven that the Western World tends to see things through a narrow sharp focused lens, which is great for getting a detailed perspective. That lens is very effective at drilling down or focusing like a telescopic view, whereas Indigenous people see the world through a wider holistic lens, allowing them to connect the dots on many seemingly unrelated issues. Both lenses are extremely valuable to our world, and we can use both of them to problem solve. Until recently, it’s predominantly been the Western lens that has been used to find solutions to our world’s problems. But times are changing, and the world is recognizing that we need more ideas and perspectives to address our planetary challenges.
IISB provides the ideal platform for organizations who want to access that Indigenous lens, through leaders, experts and advisors from around the world.
The Cure is in our DNA and to find it – genetics needs to be more Native!
The Indigenous Lens is already providing answers and creating incredible advances. One example of this is Hawaiian Geneticist Dr. Keolu Fox’s efforts to bring attention to the fact that genetic research is crippled from a lack of diversity, and he wants to make genetics more Native.
“Ninety-six percent of genome studies are based on people of European descent. The rest of the world is virtually unrepresented- and this is dangerous,” said Fox, “because we react to drugs differently based on our genetic makeup.”
But that’s not all. What if the cure for disease also lies in these genetic variances? Questions like these are what prompted
IISB’s speaker, Dr. Fox, to become the geneticist he is today, and to explore the links between human genetic variation and disease in underrepresented populations.“The issue is that Indigenous people don’t trust western institutions because of a history of exploitation,” said Fox.
By working with and advocating for Indigenous populations to be involved in research, Fox is helping put science into the hands of Indigenous communities through a new mobile genome sequencing device.
For more information on Dr. Fox and his work visit www.iispeakersbureau.com.
The Importance of Developing Relationships
“Success comes from aligning yourself with people and organizations that believe in your dream and want to help get you there,” said Loutitt.
The Clarence Campeau Development Fund (CCDF) has been a fundamental contributor to the success of IISB. They are providing the necessary expertise and support for business planning and start-up in Saskatchewan, Canada. CCDF has assisted in making IISB’s dream a reality. “The most beneficial part of this relationship is that
the staff and organization don’t treat us as a number, but as family,” said Loutitt. “They are always there to provide support along the way, whether that is advice, networking opportunities or just a listening ear. They understand that many Métis entrepreneurs feel like ‘they are on an island of their own’– the CCDF go above and beyond to show
their clients that they are not.”
As an Indigenous organization, Loutittsays it is extremely important for IISB to continually build bridges in as many areas as they can.“It’s not just the clients and their audiences we want to help educate and connect with, but the organizations we work with on a daily basis.”IISB commits to working with non-Indigenous organizations they feel come with the right heart and intent for working with Indigenous people.
“I need to know that there is a real desire and intent to engage positively with Indigenous people and grow forward together,” said Loutitt. “All of our suppliers and partners have that and go above and beyond to express their commitment to our success and that of Indigenous
people. From our accounting professionals at McClelland Debusschere and Checks ‘n’ Balances, to our website developers at Route413.com, the passion and commitment to contributing to our growth has been there from day one.”
Loutitt believes that while it’s important to work with organizations she would consider“Indigenous-friendly”, it’s equally important to let others in our communities know about them and the work they do. “Too often we see only the things that are going wrong in the world. Our people deserve to also see what is going right.” IISB is committed to also sharing the stories and names of the organizations they work with that exemplify the good needed in our Indigenous world.
Virtual Interactive Presentations(VIP)
Inspired by this belief in education, IISB has been developing a fresh application of technology, designed to bring Indigenous role models and content from around the world directly into the classroom. These VIPs will provide educators with an interactive learning experience that connects to their curriculum and their students. IISB
will make finding Indigenous knowledge and perspectives easier and affordable with VIP presentations. Look for more information about these on the IISB website.
Connect with an IISB Speaker
For more information, to book a speaker, nominate a speaker or apply to become a speaker visit https://iispeakersbureau.com.
“The IISB has been pivotal in my emergence as a professional speaker. The support, guidance and mentorship has been both empowering and uplifting. Working with Shannon has been a true joy and I feel her authentic passion to support and raise Indigenous voices has helped me see my worth and find my voice. I am proud
and honoured to be in the IISB family.”
– Deanna Burgart P.Eng
CET, President & Indigeneer
of Indigenous Engineering