Sponsored by Vision Quest Conferences Inc.

An inspiring celebration of business and culture, the Vision Quest Conference and Trade Show is a highly anticipated event held each year in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This year it will take place at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg from May 17-18.

“Last year’s return to an in-person conference really set a new standard,” says Carol Johnston, chair of the Vision Quest Board of Directors. “Our goal is to continue that momentum with outstanding keynote speakers and a full conference lineup of opportunities for learning, networking, information-sharing and partnership-building. The focus is on promoting Indigenous business, community and economic development.”

The two-day conference includes 14 interactive workshops, a trade show that is free of charge to the general public, and a closing banquet with entertainment, cultural and award presentations. Trade show exhibitors include small and large businesses, artists and crafters, post-secondary education and training opportunities, non-profit services and
government agencies. In addition to the many interactive sessions, the conference offers an impressive roster of speakers including emcees Darrell Stranger, APTN National News host, and Dennis Ward, host and producer of APTN News.

The continuing theme “From Vision to Reality” is exemplified by keynote presenters JR LaRose, Grey Cup champion, community leader and member of One Arrow First Nation, and Waneek Horn-Miller, Olympian, activist and speaker on Indigenous health and reconciliation. “Both JR and Waneek are high-performing athletes who have shown leadership and a deep commitment to upholding traditional Indigenous values as they strive for excellence,” says Johnston. “They embody hope, resilience and grace, overcoming personal hardships to achieve their goals, and ultimately a better life for themselves, their families and communities. We are honoured to welcome JR and Waneek to Treaty #1 Territory to share their powerful stories.”

Event Highlights

Dragon’s Quest Business Plan Competition

As in past years, Vision Quest is pleased to partner with Indigenous Business Development Services in featuring the Dragon’s Quest Business Plan Competition, which is dedicated to inspiring and assisting Indigenous entrepreneurship across Manitoba. Award recipients will be announced at the closing banquet where the Steve Prince Memorial Bursary and the Kim Bullard Memorial Bursary will also be presented. Both bursaries support Indigenous students pursuing studies in the Indigenous Business Education Partners program at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business and who have also demonstrated involvement in their community.

Entertainment and Cultural Presentations

Delegates will experience the artistic talents of Juno-nominated award-winning pop/folk/rock music collective Indian City and the Walking Wolf Singers & Dancers, who have been performing and educating people for over 25 years on First Nations song and dance.

From NBC’s America’s Got Talent, comedic illusionist Chris Funk has a unique approach to magic that has garnered him performances at Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood, Mandalay Bay, Venetian, Rio and Tropicana casinos, as well as residencies at Disney. Banquet attendees will be mesmerized by Funk’s Redefining Wonder, an engaging and visceral multimedia experience that brings together magic and music.

Johnston urges attendees to embrace everything the conference offers, which, in addition to the full speaker program, includes an Elders’ Corner where delegates and the public can share and learn, a community art project with Graffiti Art Programming, and an array of cultural experiences with Manitoba’s Indigenous veterans, traditional drummers and dancers, and Indigenous visual and performing artists.

“There are so many opportunities at this year’s Vision Quest Conference and Trade Show,” says Johnston. “Make new connections, be inspired, learn new ways of doing what you need to do and what you’d like to do. You might even discover a new path for you or your organization.”

Keynote Presenters

Waneek Horn-Miller

When just fourteen years old, Waneek Horn-Miller was stabbed in the chest by a Canadian soldier while protesting a condo development on traditional Kanien’kehá:ka Mohawk lands. The image of her wounded, holding her young sister, was shared across national media and launched her into the public eye as a symbol of Indigenous struggle. Throughout her life, Horn-Miller has always stood up for what was right—as a mother, an activist, an athlete and an entrepreneur. This has entailed hard choices, pain and sacrifice, but this commitment and drive have made her one of Canada’s most inspiring figures.

As a high-performance athlete, Horn-Miller was a member of the Canadian women’s water polo team that won gold at the 1999 Pan Am Games and was co-captain of the Canadian team that placed fifth at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. On stage, Horn-Miller traces the path from the painful event at the protest to the strength depicted in her iconic TIME cover, an image of incredible power, poise and dignity as the first Canadian Mohawk woman to compete in the Olympic Games.

Her 13-part documentary Working It Out Together is a healthy-eating initiative with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network that highlights real people who courageously share their journey to reclaim their well-being with the help of leaders in health. Horn-Miller’s work on the documentary earned her a 2015 DAREarts Cultural Award, which is presented each year to individuals who have shown leadership in advancing culture for youth across Canada. Horn-Miller has also taken a leadership role as a director of community engagement for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Going forward, undoubtedly she will continue to support communities through fearless advocacy and inspire many as an icon of strength, resilience, versatility and sport.

JR LaRose

JR LaRose is a nine-year veteran of the CFL and a 2011 Grey Cup champion. A proud member of One Arrow First Nation, he is an accomplished speaker who has been recognized and awarded for contributions to his community. LaRose’s path to success has been a long and hard-fought journey that began in low-income housing in Edmonton, Alberta’s inner city. LaRose’s upbringing was significantly impacted by his mother’s exposure to abuse suffered during her time at a residential school. LaRose overcame an environment of poverty, drugs and abuse. The sport of football was the opportunity that LaRose longed for. His passion for football as a youth would turn out to be his profession as a young man. Now retired from football, LaRose is a gifted speaker, whose story of redemption is universal, breaking down racial and generational walls, and bringing forth a sense of hope and humanity.

Find Out More

For information and to register, visit vqconference.com/conference.

Vision Quest Conferences Inc. is a consortium of five Manitoba Indigenous Community Futures Development Corporations: Cedar Lake CFC, Dakota Ojibway CFDC, Kitayan CFDC, Community Futures North Central Development, and Southeast CFDC.