Member – Red Pheasant First Nation
Shaun Soonias is a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada and has endeavored both professionally and personally to work in areas that serve and promote the rights and well-being of Aboriginal Peoples, children and youth in particular. Shaun has volunteered as a coach, coordinator, and former athlete for Team Saskatchewan’s wrestling program at the North American Indigenous Games, from 1997 to present.
Shaun began his professional career in 1993 with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and spent seven years in the development and administration of youth justice and education programs on-reserve. Shaun left the FSIN in 2000 to work with the University of Saskatchewan to implement their Representative Workforce Strategy before taking a position with the independent office of the Legislative Assembly; Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth in 2001 where he spent 11 years as an Advocate and Investigator.
Shaun has worked with both provincial and federal governments on a number of key strategies and legislative processes. Shaun was a member of the Technical Advisory Group; Aboriginal Children’s Survey, Statistics Canada, a collaborative approach to advise the federal government on the development, implementation and dissemination of a survey that was culturally appropriate and relevant to the needs of Aboriginal peoples, communities, governments and non-government organizations. In 2013/2014 Shaun represented First Nations in Saskatchewan’s legislative renewal of the Child and Family Services Act and Adoption Act and was selected as a member of the government’s Citizen Consultation Team to develop the Saskatchewan Provincial Disability Strategy which was released in the summer of 2015.
Outside of his 9-5 job centered on social development, Shaun has also been a businessmen since 2001 when opened his first business, Rocks Jewellery Company. Shaun expanded his interests in 2006 purchasing 70 acres of farm land in what soon after became Saskatchewan’s fastest growing city, with the land being considered critical to the growth of the city and plans to develop residential properties beginning in 2017. In 2008 Shaun opened a car and motorcycle dealership in Saskatoon which he operated until 2011 when family and 9-5 career commitments took precedence.
His professional experience has provided Shaun with an in-depth understanding of issues affecting Aboriginal children and youth, their families and communities. This has given rise to a lifelong passion with respect to promoting the rights and dignity Aboriginal Peoples, children and youth in particular.
In 2015, Shaun formally transitioned from the social development sector to economic development and is presently the Director of Aboriginal Employment and Economic Development with the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority. Shaun is honored and very excited to share with WIBF participants his vision and roadmap towards economic sovereignty for Aboriginal Peoples.