Vision Quest 2023 delivers on all fronts

We were thrilled by the depth of participant engagement, amazing presentations, and the enthusiastic celebration of Indigenous culture and accomplishments during all facets of the two-day event. From a stunning opening grand entry featuring Indigenous Veterans accompanied by the drum and songs of Walking Wolf Singers & Dancers straight through to the lively closing banquet featuring world class entertainment, a culinary extravaganza, and awards to deserving post-secondary students and young entrepreneurs.

Inspiring opening remarks by Elder Mae Louise Campbell, Grand Chief and Honourary Chair Garrison Settee, Grand Chief Kathy Merrick, Premier Heather Stefanson, and Deputy Mayor Janice Lukes set the stage for the event. Elder Mae Louise Campbell, now 89, has seen many changes during her lifetime, but is thrilled to see gatherings such as ours bringing Indigenous culture to the forefront of economic development and growth in our communities. She shared her philosophy that “Life is a journey – it can be an amazing journey if you look at it differently – with Indigenous spirit, Indigenous heart, and Indigenous eyes.”

Interactive Workshops

14 Interactive Workshops

Delegates participated in workshops spanning a variety topics in the areas of business, community/personal development, and youth interests and opportunities. Sessions included business planning and financing, building a sustainable livelihood, careers in manufacturing, tax exemptions, economic reconciliation, and Indigenous role models in business. Cultural sessions on natural and spiritual law, Indigenous names, songs and colours, and the life-changing opportunities that drumming can offer, provided insights and celebration of the teachings.

A Diverse Trade Show

Our sold-out Trade Show featured large commercial businesses, small business operators, artists and crafters, post-secondary education and training opportunities, community development non-profit services and government agencies. The Elders’ Corner provided a unique opportunity for guests to sit and chat with our Elders for insight and inspiration, and Art City’s community art project saw attendies sharing their creative side.

culture and entertainment

An Evening of Culture & Entetainment

Banquet attendees were mesmerized by Chris Funk’s Redefining Wonder, an engaging and intuitive multimedia experience that brought together magic, music and the unexpected. Additionally a world-class lineup of entertainers including Walking Wolf Singers & Dancers, and Indian City wowed the banquet audience with a mix of contemporary and traditional performances celebrating Indigenous cultural identity.

Honourable Guests & Speakers

“What’s needed in our communities is transformative change – we have to create those opportunities, and have faith in our young people coming up with ideas that are progressive, new and powerful…The best is yet to come for our youth!”
Grand Chief Settee, Vision Quest 2023 Honourary Chair

Grand Chief Merrick

“It is my wish that our young people can touch their feet on every continent of the world – have dreams, be guided to what needs to be done, and be whoever they want to be. Leaders here today are breaking barriers so our young people can do that.”
Grand Chief Merrick

JR LaRose

Grey Cup Champion, Community Leader, Member of One Arrow First Nation

CFL veteran and Grey Cup champion JR LaRose was honoured to have the opportunity to speak to an attentive audience at Vision Quest 2023. He believes events like these bring hope to youth. “How awesome would that be to have someone come back five years from now and recognize that Vision Quest made the difference for them to follow their dream.” To him, hope and inspiration are what Vision Quest is all about, and was the recurring theme during his presentation, which centred around the idea of not allowing your “situation to be your excuse in life.”

He urged youth to “surround yourself with like-minded individuals.” This was a tough lesson learned when, at 21, having achieved his dream of being signed on to play professional football with the Edmonton Elks, JR spiralled into heavy use of drugs and alcohol.

“I stumbled so many times through this journey – by seeking help, removing stigma, and changing for my kids, I was able to break that cycle.
Dreams do come true, but it starts with a choice.”

Vision Quest Board: Charlene Beamin, Dakota Ojibway CFDC; Dave McDonald, Kitayan CFDC; Waneek Horn-Miller, keynote; Joe Cote, Vice Chair, Cedar Lake CFDC; Tamy Burton, North Central CFDC; Carol Johnston, Chair, Southeast CFDC

Waneek Horn-Miller

Olympian, Activist, Speaker on Indigenous Health & Reconciliation

While she has many outstanding accomplishments to her name, Waneek Horn-Miller treasures her Mohawk heritage and the positive example set by her mother – a long-time Indigenous rights activist – above everything else. “There is nothing better than being a Mohawk woman,” she said. Attendees were hanging on every word as the Olympic champion traced her roots of activism from an early age.

Seeing women being leaders, standing in solidarity and strength together has been a constant positive force in her life, something she carried with her during the 17 years it took her to realize her dream of competing in the Olympics and in her continuing Indigenous advocacy work. Her mother also taught her and her three sisters that the most powerful energy in the world is love. “She always said when you make decisions for yourself based on love, you are showing the world how you want to be treated.”

Waneek considered it a privilege to share her story with all those gathered for Vision Quest but most importantly with youth, whom she believes benefit from the strength and resilience of Indigenous people, a role she says we all share.

Awards and Bursaries

Vision Quest – Steve Prince Memorial Bursary: John Lodge

Vision Quest – Kim Bullard Memorial Bursary: Shay-Ann Scott-Jolicoeur

Dragon’s Quest Business Plan Competition 
Sponsored by Indigenous Business Development Services
1st Place ($7500) – Mia Toews
2nd Place ($2500) – Kinew Beaulieu

Our Sponsors & Funding Partners

Vision Quest would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors and media partners:

Funding Partners

Indigenous Services Canada
Prairies Economic Development Canada

Diamond Sponsor

Province of Manitoba

Platinum Sponsors

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
RBC Future Launch
The Winnipeg Foundation

Gold Sponsors

Access Credit Union
Indigenous Business Development Services
RRC Polytech

Silver Sponsors

Aseneskak Casino
Assiniboine Credit Union
Manitoba Aerospace
Manitoba Hydro
University College of the North

Delegate Bag Sponsor

Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs (NAACA)

Media Partners
Arctic Radio (CJAR/CHTM/CFAR)
NCI FM / NOW Country
Say Magazine
The Free Press

Banquet Table Sponsors

Baker Tilly
Dakota Ojibway Child & Family Services
Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council
RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg

Youth at tables greeting

Thank You

We also thank our sponsors, delegates, exhibitors, speakers and presenters, partners, entertainers, special guests, suppliers and volunteers, who helped make the 26th Vision Quest Conference & Trade Show one to remember.

We are already eagerly anticipating next year’s event, which will take place on May 15 and 16, 2024 at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.

Thank you for being a part of this incredible community and we can’t wait to see you all next year!
From the Board of Directors, Vision Quest Conferences Inc.

Carol Johnston, Chair, Southeast CFDC
Joe Cote, Vice Chair, Cedar Lake CFDC
Charlene Beamin, Dakota Ojibway CFDC
Dave McDonald, Kitayan CFDC
Tamy Burton, North Central CFDC


Cedar Lake CFDC Dakota Ojibway CFDC Kitayan CFDC North Central CFDC Southeast CFDC