Fostering Indigenous Leaders: Third SREDA Indigenous Economic Development Scholarship Awarded

WARMAN, SK – The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA), Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network (SFNEDN), and Great Plains College were proud to award the third SREDA Indigenous Economic Development Scholarship (SIEDS) to Kelly Fiddler at a luncheon on February 28th.

The SIED Scholarship was created in 2018 to recognize Indigenous leaders by offering a scholarship to an Indigenous student who is actively enrolled in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Community Economic Development. The program is offered by Cape Breton University and hosted at Great Plains College Warman Campus. Students who qualify for the annual scholarship can receive up to $5,000 toward their education in the program in their first or second year of study.

“Fostering Indigenous economic development is a key pillar of SREDA’s work, and that’s why we’re committed to strengthening the next generation of Indigenous leaders,” said Alex Fallon, President and CEO of SREDA. “We’re proud to lead this initiative, along with Great Plains College and SFNEDN, to support these leaders as they gain new skills and expand their career opportunities.”

This year’s recipient, Kelly Fiddler of Waterhen Lake First Nation, has over 15 years of service in Indigenous economic development, including starting the Waterhen Lake First Nation Development Corporation and directing the HireFirstNation program, a $3 million 3-year program hosted by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN). Under Kelly’s management, HireFirstNation put more than 650 Indigenous people to work.

“We are honoured to again present this scholarship to a very deserving candidate who is dedicated to Indigenous economic development, has a history of being active in the community, and continues to extend his learning growth through higher educational opportunities,” said David Keast, President and CEO at Great Plains College. “Kelly has had a great impact on the communities and organizations he has been involved with, and we look forward to seeing that impact grow as he completes the MBA program.”

Kelly found his passion for economic development after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from Edwards School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies. “Every day there’s something to learn about every sector,” said Fiddler. “It’s a very exciting area to work in.” He’s particularly proud to have been involved in the Flying Dust First Nation Riverside Market Garden, founded in 2009. The garden produces food for grocery stores, donations, and the community, including Elders. Several local band members were trained to work on the project, and for some it has been their first job. “That makes a huge difference,” said Fiddler. “It can be tough to find that first job.”

“The SFNEDN is pleased to extend our congratulations to Kelly Fiddler, the 2020 recipient of the SREDA Indigenous Economic Development Scholarship,” said Charlotte Ross, Co-Chair of the SFNEDN. “I have had the honor of knowing Kelly in his undergraduate studies and can attest to the outstanding contributions he has made over the years towards Indigenous economic development in Saskatchewan.”

Kelly’s time in the MBA in Community Economic Development program has allowed him to build skills that are much needed in Indigenous communities. Upon completion of the program, Kelly hopes to continue to assist First Nations in developing projects that will bring economic sovereignty to Indigenous people.

David Keast (President & CEO, Great Plains College), Mayor Sheryl Spence (City of Warman), Nancy Heppner (MLA for Martensville-Warman), Kelly Fiddler (scholarship recipient), Ward Read (Director of Economic Development, SREDA), Charlotte Ross (Co-Chair, Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network). Photo by Great Plains College.