Call to Action # 92: Actions and Commitments

Indigenous Business Organizations

Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs)

AFI’s are autonomous, Indigenous-controlled, community-based financial organizations. AFIs provide developmental lending, business financing and support services to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit businesses in all provinces and territories. Support includes business loans, non-repayable contributions, financial and management consulting, and business start-up and aftercare services.

AFOA Canada

AFOA Canada (formerly Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada) was founded as a not-for-profit association in 1999 to help Indigenous people better manage and govern their communities and organizations through a focus on enhancing finance and management practices and skills.  After sixteen years in operation, AFOA Canada has become the centre for excellence and innovation in Indigenous finance, management and leadership.  It is the only organization in Canada that focuses on the capacity development and day-to-day needs of those Indigenous professionals who are working in all areas of finance, management, band administration, leadership and program management

December 11, 2020

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

House of Commons’ Standing Committee on International Trade: Summary

Patrick Watson, Director Public Policy, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Since 1982, CCAB has been committed to the full participation of Indigenous peoples in the Canadian economy. Our work is backed by data-driven research, recognized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as the gold standard for Indigenous business data in Canada… As a lesson learned, resulting from our efforts to ensure Indigenous inclusion, the CCAB has repeatedly highlighted the need for a navigator function specific for Indigenous business to assist with the understanding and uptake of various programs, including those designed to support exporters, Indigenous businesses have found navigating the bureaucracy, which often does not consider their unique legal and place-based circumstances, a significant barrier to accessing the support necessary to keep their business alive and maintain the well-being of their communities.

What we have taken away from this experience is that programs of general application are often not well designed to meet the unique needs of Indigenous businesses. The lack of targeted assistance for Indigenous businesses to utilize these Government supports further adds to the frustration and distrust that is the result of the history between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. This underlines the need for an Indigenous Economic Recovery Strategy that is Indigenous-led, builds Indigenous capacity and is well resourced to support Indigenous prosperity and well-being. This is one of the recommendations found in the Senate Committee on National Finance’ Report on Bill C-9, which notes that “the Federal government should consider adopting a government-wide strategy to support Indigenous businesses, similar to its women Entrepreneurship Strategy and the Black Entrepreneurship Program.” Access to external markets would be an important part of this government-wide strategy, including the need to support Indigenous exporters as part of the recovery.

Such a strategy was not mentioned in the recent Speech from the Throne nor the Fall Economic Statement. Although we acknowledge the number of important renewed commitments made in the Speech from the Throne and the Fall Economic Statement, I would be remiss if I did not express my disappointment that there was no mention of efforts to support the economic empowerment of Indigenous peoples, businesses or communities. This was a missed opportunity for the Government to signal to Canadians that Indigenous prosperity and economic reconciliation matters.

Short and Medium Term Solution

In the immediate term what is needed to support Indigenous exporters is a 5% set-aside, with a navigator service, across all four CanExport programming streams:

  • CanExport SMEs,
  • CanExport Innovation,
  • CanExport Associations and
  • CanExport Community Investments,

for Indigenous businesses, organizations and Aboriginal Economic Development Corporations, also known as Dev Corps. Taking the CanExport SMEs stream as an example, a 5% set aside for First Nations, Métis and Inuit businesses would represent a meaningful investment in Indigenous exporters and Indigenous economic recovery. This proposal is aligned with the Government of Canada’s procurement set-aside commitment which is reflected in the Mandate Letter of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada.

In the medium term, what we would like to see in the upcoming Budget is a plan for the Government of Canada to build the capacity of Indigenous organizations to deliver export opportunity awareness, export readiness training and exporter business missions, in a good way that, draws upon the lessons learned of the recent OECD Report: Linking Indigenous Communities to Regional Development in Canada, to ensure that these supports are culturally appropriate, placed-based and are meaningful for Indigenous businesses.

The CCAB would welcome the opportunity to work with this Committee and Global Affairs Canada on its efforts to build Indigenous capacity. In the last 3 months alone, CCAB has:

  1. hosted and participated in a series of export webinars, with the Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada, focused on Indigenous businesses,
  2. developing a unique export readiness training opportunity with World Trade Centre-Vancouver for early 2021, and
  3. co-hosted a Canada Australia Indigenous Business Export Dialogue on December 3rd, 2020, which provided a business mission for Indigenous exporters from both countries. Our next Indigenous Business Export Dialogue will take place on January 14th, 2021, this time with Indigenous business from the United States of America.

I would like to leave you with this point for consideration: Too often Indigenous business concerns are an afterthought, resulting in Indigenous organizations like CCAB, working to prove to the Government that their responses have not met the needs of Indigenous peoples. A reasonable starting point to support Indigenous economic recovery would include set-asides and a navigator function of CanExport programming for Indigenous businesses and communities.

September 16, 2020

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and Sodexo Canada – released a report summarizing the CCAB Business Recovery Forum – a first of its kind virtual event held on September 16, 2020. Over 600 participants attended the event. The Forum was a direct response to Indigenous businesses’ concern over finding solutions on how to move forward through this economic crisis. “CCAB is pleased to release this report alongside our partner, Sodexo Canada and together we commit to applying what we heard to continue to support Indigenous businesses and ensure an economic recovery that includes Indigenous business.” Tabatha Bull, President and CEO CCAB.

Session outcomes indicated a need to strengthen a procurement relationship between Indigenous businesses and both government and corporate Canada. This will be vital for an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Worth noting from the data and participant feedback is that CCAB’s Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program appears to be of growing interest to Canadian organizations. PAR is a certification program that helps organizations build effective and meaningful partnerships with Indigenous businesses and communities. Complementing this feedback was the recurring theme throughout the Forum of a need for meaningful partnerships where Indigenous businesses are involved from the initial stage of a project and are not an afterthought.

Based on the feedback in the report, CCAB commits to:

  • Working with government to advise them on simplifying the procurement process and reducing barriers for Indigenous business.
  • Continue efforts with all government levels and all departments, so they understand and advocate for Indigenous business and an increased Indigenous economy to benefit all.
  • Develop more research and collaborate with organizations, institutions, and governments to support Indigenous business and export growth.
  • Further promote Supply Change™ and the Aboriginal Procurement Marketplace to connect Indigenous businesses with corporations committed to supporting Indigenous businesses through procurement and established vendor partnerships.
  • Reinforce cultural awareness so that companies share rebuilding opportunities with Indigenous businesses and communities.
  • Continue to collaborate with other Indigenous organizations to achieve socio-economic prosperity.
  • Support outreach for the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program to establish real and meaningful Indigenous partnerships.
  • Strive to communicate with and connect more people virtually and in meaningful ways.

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program

PAR is a certification program that confirms corporate performance in Aboriginal relations at the Bronze, Silver or Gold level. Certified companies promote their level with a PAR logo signalling to communities that they are

  • good business partners;
  • great places to work and;
  • committed to prosperity in Aboriginal communities

Since the program’s introduction in 2001, PAR remains the premier corporate social responsibility program with an emphasis on Aboriginal relations. Using an online management and reporting tool, the program supports participants’ efforts towards progressive improvement and commitment to prosperity in Indigenous communities. As a premier corporate social responsibility program, a high level of assurance is provided through an independent, third-party verification process of company reports on measurable outcomes and initiatives in four performance areas:

  1. Leadership Actions
  2. Employment
  3. Business Development, and
  4. Community Relationships.

The final company level is determined by a jury comprised of Aboriginal business people.

PAR Gold companies demonstrate sustained leadership in Aboriginal relations and their commitment to working with Aboriginal businesses and communities has built the business case that other companies aspire to prove. Their introduction of innovative programs and engagement of Aboriginal people have made an enduring impact on Aboriginal businesses and communities, and demonstrate best practice for those companies introducing Aboriginal relations to their business strategy or seeking to improve year over year.

PAR Silver companies have had their business case proved through their Aboriginal relations; business partnerships are in place; Aboriginal people are adding value at their workplace; and they are supporting sustainability through investment in communities and people. PAR Silver companies recognized early the value of working with Aboriginal communities and can point to outcomes that have made a difference.

PAR Bronze companies are distinguishable among thousands of Canadian businesses because they recognize the business case for working with Aboriginal businesses and communities. Their strategic planning recognizes the mutually-beneficial impact of business development with Aboriginal-owned businesses, the value that Aboriginal people bring to the workplace, and the potential of Aboriginal communities. PAR Bronze companies are beginning a journey, developing the goals and action plans that position them to work with the Aboriginal community.

PAR Committed companies are in the beginning stages of tracking and managing their Aboriginal relations strategies. Committed companies have submitted a report for one year’s worth of company activities and intend to undergo external verification of their performance in the future. The Committed logo represents a company’s commitment to continual improvement in Aboriginal relations and to working across cultures.

Discover the benefits of workplace inclusion through our enterprise-wide benchmarking and advisory system. Our team has the expertise to guide you through a personalized three-stage Workplace Inclusion System, directed by our Inclusion Continuum—that will help you build the organizational competencies needed to achieve inclusion excellence—leading to more successful Indigenous engagements and relationships.

Through our advisory system, which is supported by various services and products, we will help you to enhance your partnership value, brand value, and capacity to access the potential of Canada’s fastest growing, youngest, and most under-leveraged asset—Indigenous people.

August 19, 2021 – Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) announced today several prominent Canadian corporations to be recognized at the Business Recovery Forum, being held September 22, 2021 for achieving certification in Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR).

Gold CertificationSilver CertificationBronze Certification
Bee Clean Building MaintenanceHydro Quebec
Syncrude Canada Ltd.Allteck Line Contractors
BC HydroGreater Victoria Harbour Authority
BC Housing
Ontario Power Generation

September 22, 2020

Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business

Insights into Indigenous Post-Secondary Graduates Experiences in the Canadian Workforce”

The objective of this report is to develop a better understanding of how Indigenous post-secondary experiences are associated with entrepreneurship, working for Indigenous employers and overall labour market outcomes. In order to explore these relationships, we retrieved and analyzed data from Indspire’s 2020 National Education Survey (NES) of Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships, and Awards (BBF) recipients, as well as Statistics Canada’s Census of Population (2016).

Using data from the NES survey, we review the characteristics of BBF recipients who go on to be employed by Indigenous employers, that is, Indigenous businesses, organizations and governments, and those who go on to self-employment. We present key findings relating to their post-secondary and employment experiences, as well as differences between self- employed BBF recipients and those employed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous employers.

Additionally, we use survey data to determine the geographic outcomes of BBF recipients — whether they were required to relocate for work, and if they work in an Indigenous community.
Indigenous youth are the fastest growing demographic in Canada and a key part of Canada’s current and future workforce,” said Tabatha Bull, President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. “This report is a first step in the conversation about how to attract, retain, and support this important demographic in all Canadian workplaces.”


  • BBF recipients who work for Indigenous employers in Ontario report being more satisfied with their current employment than those working with non-Indigenous employers.
  • On average, they more strongly agree that they feel valued at work, are satisfied with their current employment, that they work the desired number of hours, and that their workplace encourages a healthy work-life balance.
  • Approximately 35% of BBF recipients report working for an Indigenous employer.
  • A full three-quarters (75%) of BBF recipients employed by an Indigenous employer find suitable work in an Indigenous community. BBF recipients are more likely to be self-employed than Indigenous workers in the same age cohort.
  • Self-employed BBF recipients are more concentrated in the health care and social assistance, educational services, construction, and real estate rental and leasing sectors than in the broader Indigenous population.

June 23, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA)

NationTalk: As part of its inclusive approach to trade, Canada is developing and implementing policies to ensure that Indigenous Peoples in Canada have access to all the benefits and opportunities that flow from international trade and investment.

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, along with the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, and Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, as well as Indigenous leaders from Canada and other IPETCA economies marked the occasion of Canada’s endorsement of the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA). IPETCA is the first trade arrangement of its kind to recognize and support Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs on a global scale.

The ministers, the parliamentary secretary and Indigenous leaders were also joined at the Canadian Museum of History by representatives from national Indigenous organizations and Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers, and Indigenous Peoples from across Canada. On Wednesday, Minister Miller, Indigenous leaders and government officials participated in an Indigenous trade symposium on trade and Indigenous Peoples.

IPETCA marks a significant turning point in the way that the government engages with Indigenous Peoples on economic development and trade promotion. It builds on the model of the Indigenous Working Group, which worked closely with the government during negotiations on the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement to protect Indigenous rights and interests. Indigenous Peoples developed proposals, reviewed text and provided advice as Canada negotiated joining IPETCA, and through IPETCA they will contribute to determining priorities and designing cooperation activities that advance their trade and Indigenous economic development interests.

IPETCA currently includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei, and it is open to other economies to join. It commits the participating economies to establish an IPETCA Partnership Council jointly with Indigenous representatives to guide the work of implementing the Arrangement.

This Arrangement acknowledges the importance of enhancing the ability of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous businesses to benefit from the opportunities created by international trade and investment. By identifying and removing barriers for Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs through cooperation activities including procurement, access to financing, mentorship and skills development, Canada will continue working closely with Indigenous Peoples and international partners to help more Indigenous businesses start up, scale up and access new markets around the world.

Quick facts

  • The Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA) is supported in Canada by the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Council, which consists of representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Métis National Council, the National Aboriginal Forestry Association, the International Intertribal Trade and Investment Organization, and the National Indigenous Economic Development Board.
  • In June 2021, Canada, under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, affirmed the Declaration as an international human rights instrument that informs the interpretation and application of Canadian law.
  • IPETCA negotiations were inspired by the Inclusive Trade Action Group, which comprises Canada, Chile and New Zealand. IPETCA negotiations followed the signing of the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement in August 2020.

June 14, 2021

Indigenous Resource Network

The Indigenous Resource Network, a non-partisan platform for Indigenous workers and business owners involved in resource development, commissioned a poll by Environics Research on Indigenous support for natural resource development. 549 self-identified First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons living in rural areas or on reserve across Canada were interviewed by telephone between March 25 – April 16, 2021.

The Indigenous Resource Network was established in May 2020 to provide a platform for Indigenous workers, business owners and leaders who support Indigenous engagement in the resource sector. We feel the public debate over resource development in Canada has become polarized and divisive. Yet the majority of people, Indigenous and non, want the same thing: to see environmentally responsible projects that have the consent and involvement of the communities most affected go ahead.


  • 65%, of Indigenous respondents said they supported natural resource development, while only 23% indicated that they were opposed. Asked if a new project were to be proposed near their own community, supporters outweighed opponents 2 to 1 (54% to 26%)
    • majorities supported both mining (59% support vs. 32% oppose) and oil and gas development (53% support vs. 41% oppose).
  • The reason for such high levels of support are clear:
    • job opportunities from resource and economic development were tied with access to health care as the most urgent priority for respondents,
    • as compared to other issues including governance, education, traditional activities, and federal transfers.

“This helps confirm what we’ve seen and heard in our communities. Most of us are not opposed resource to development. We are opposed to being left out,” said John Desjarlais, IRN advisory board member. “In particular, the poll finds that best practices in environmental protection, economic benefits and high safety standards lead to increased Indigenous support for projects.”

“Indigenous peoples have been using their lands and resources for thousands of years. This is not new to us,” stated Arnie Bellis, Chair of the IRN advisory board. “What we want is meaningful inclusion and ownership in the development of our own resources. This will create jobs for our young peoples and provide them with opportunities to develop their intellect.”


  • Support for resource development was higher for working age (35-54 years) respondents (70%) than their younger cohort (18-34 Years) (56%)
  • Indigenous men were more likely to oppose resource development (28%) than Indigenous women (19%).
  • Strong support for natural resource development was consistently higher among those who felt they were well-informed about the topic. However only three in ten (30%) described themselves as very or extremely informed about the topic. More than one-third felt somewhat well-informed (38%), while three in ten did not feel well-informed (30%).
  • Half of respondents (49%) believed that resource development can definitely be done while respecting the land and the environment definitely can, with another third (36%) indicating that it may or may not be possible. Only one in ten (11%) believed being successful at both was definitely not a possibility.
  • Indigenous people were more likely to support resource development if the project: included best practices in protecting the environment (79%), provided economic benefits such as jobs, business opportunities and revenues for the community (77%), had best practices in safety (77%), consulted the community (69%) and received community support to proceed (62%).
  • The percentage of respondents who identified the following as an “urgent” priority to improving the quality of life in their community included: better access to health care (56%), job opportunities from economic or resource development (55%), better access to education and training (53%); focus on traditional activities such as ceremonies or being on the land (39%); better governance (36%); increased transfer payments from the federal government to the community (33%).


IndigenousWorks, (formerly, the Aboriginal Human Resource Council), announced its new brand name on November 21, 2016. Today we are a national social enterprise that is ISO 9001 certified (quality management system). We were founded as a non-profit national organization in 1998 as a recommendation from the 1996 Report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples with a mandate to improve the inclusion and engagement of Indigenous people in the Canadian economy.

For nearly 20 years, we have worked with companies and organizations to strengthen their performance and results in Indigenous employment, workplace engagement and inclusion.  Partnerships are key to developing the right relationships and generating better results.  Indigenous Works is addressing relationship building and responding to the growing need for stronger partnership development between Indigenous-owned enterprises and corporate Canada.

Through our services and products, we help develop inclusive workplaces and high-functioning, authentic and long-term partnerships. Our Inclusion Continuum, is a seven-stage road map that helps organizations become an employer-of-choice. Our partnership and workplace inclusion tools help companies benchmark and implement partnership strategies, practices and behaviours. We have worked with hundreds of companies, including our group of Leadership Circle members, with proven partnership and workplace solutions.

IndigenousWorks Services-Product Catalogue

Discover the benefits of workplace inclusion through our enterprise-wide benchmarking and advisory system. Our team has the expertise to guide you through a personalized three-stage Workplace Inclusion System, directed by our Inclusion Continuum—that will help you build the organizational competencies needed to achieve inclusion excellence—leading to more successful Indigenous engagements and relationships.

Through our advisory system, which is supported by various services and products, we will help you to enhance your partnership value, brand value, and capacity to access the potential of Canada’s fastest growing, youngest, and most under-leveraged asset—Indigenous people.

National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association

NACCA is a membership-driven national association for a network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions, or AFIs. NACCA supports the AFI network, which offers financing to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit businesses and communities. NACCA is committed to the needs of AFIs and the Aboriginal businesses that they serve.

NACCA, the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, is a network of over 50 Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) dedicated to stimulating economic growth for all Indigenous people in Canada. The AFI network has provided over 45,000 loans totaling over $2.5 billion to businesses owned by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people. NACCA supports the network by building AFI capacity and fostering Indigenous business development. NACCA’s goal is to provide opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurs and increase prosperity for Indigenous people in Canada. These efforts increase social and economic self-reliance and sustainability for Indigenous people and communities nationwide.

NACCA advocates for Indigenous economic development by focusing on the following:

  • representing the unified voice of AFIs;
  • publishing national and regional results of AFI work;
  • fostering partnerships and building capacity; and
  • delivering the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program (AEP) products and services to AFIs.

July 8, 2022

National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association: Defining Indigenous Businesses in Canada

NationTalk:Defining Indigenous Businesses in Canada” is a report commissioned by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) on behalf of national Indigenous organizations who comprise the National Indigenous Procurement Working Group (NIPWG). It presents proposed definitions of Indigenous Businesses for use in Canada.rawing on various national and international descriptions, the definitions are comprised of three core elements:

  1. The requirement for Indigenous business owners, directors of Indigenous companies, and in the case of cooperatives – voting members, to provide evidence of Indigenous identity as demonstrated through a legitimate Indigenous identity?issuing organization or entity.
  2. Entrepreneurs and small business owners should also demonstrate that they possess the relevant expertise and credentials to own the business and the capacity to actively engage in operating the business.
  3. A minimum of 51% Indigenous ownership. While it is recognized that there are many businesses that have Indigenous ownership or which provide social returns such as employment, the intent of the definitions presented is to provide competitive advantages to majority owned Indigenous businesses.

“More than 50,000 Indigenous owned businesses in Canada contribute $31 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product annually.”

These definitions are consistent with comparator definitions of Indigenous businesses sourced from a review of Canadian and international entities. A literature review contained within the report discusses the critical need for the ethical and effective engagement of governments and industry with Indigenous owned and operated businesses. Indigenous businesses create jobs, improve local communities, fuel innovation, and contribute to social and economic wellbeing.

September 13, 2017

National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Established in 1990, the NIEDB is a Governor in Council appointed board mandated to provide strategic policy advice to the federal government on issues related to Indigenous economic development. Comprised of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis business and community leaders from across Canada, the Board helps governments to respond to the unique needs and circumstances of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Recommendations Report on Improving Access to Capital for Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Recommendations Report on Improving Access to Capital for Indigenous Peoples in Canada, (Sept. 2017) is based on a study that Waterstone Strategies recently produced for our Board with the following recommendations to the Government of Canada:

  • That the Government of Canada continue to expand investments in and support for Aboriginal Financial Institutions.
  • That the Government of Canada make a substantive effort to renew the fiscal relationship and to make fiscal fairness and affordable borrowing a reality for Indigenous peoples and communities. This includes addressing current legal and regulatory barriers to accessing capital, as well as exploring and supporting new and alternative lending options.
  • That Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) continue to work with Indigenous peoples, nations and governments to expand investments in communities and to enhance the investment climate.
  • That INAC enhance the relevance, quality and availability of information to Indigenous households, businesses and communities through a commitment to transparency and openness, as well as supporting Indigenous-led research and data governance.

2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report

The 2019 National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NIEDB) Economic Progress Report provides a thorough and in-depth analysis of the economic realities of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The report includes three core indicators:

  1. employment;
  2. income; and,
  3. community well-being.

These core indicators are examined through 13 separate measures. Additionally, five underlying indicators are considered:

  1. education;
  2. entrepreneurship and business development;
  3. governance;
  4. lands and resources; and, i
  5. infrastructure, with these underlying indicators examined through 18 measures.

Of the 31 measures examined, 11 are new to the 2019 report, including: several which examine workforce representation; enhanced income and educational attainment measures; community financial certification; and, the crowding and condition of housing. The 2019 Report also for the first time includes a Gender-Based Analysis, as well as two new composite indices: the NIEDB Economic Development Index and the Infrastructure Index. This report serves to provide the most complete and robust picture of Indigenous economic well-being in Canada to date.


The promotion of Indigenous economic development requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the barriers outlined in this report and encourages the foundations of proven success from Indigenous communities across Canada. Fostering sovereignty, supporting Indigenous institutions of governance and community leadership, safeguarding and honouring Indigenous culture and identity, and investing in youth and education are all strong drivers of Indigenous economic development. The National Indigenous Economic Development Board recommends the following actions towards closing the inequity gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians:


  • Findings suggest that while all Indigenous groups demonstrate higher unemployment rates than non-Indigenous groups, rates are strongly influenced by educational attainment rates, remote/on reserve community location, and gender inequity. Support for programs that match workers to locally-available and education-qualified opportunities can be informed by, and serve to inform community workforce plans. Community workforce plans would predict future employment needs in the community and address concerns voiced by Indigenous businesses regarding talent acquisition by having them engage with plan development. Further, through the anticipation of future local community need, students can have greater assurances of being able to find local employment and target educational plans accordingly while businesses can identify priority hiring targets to encourage local economic development.


  • As Indigenous groups are already working in high wage industries (but in the lowest-income jobs within those industries) the opportunity to amplify educational payoffs is great. Through an increase in training and internship opportunities for Indigenous employees in the industries that they are already working in, Indigenous employees could more efficiently move into higher occupational levels and increase their earning potential. Further to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #92, the education of non-Indigenous management into the benefits of greater Indigenous representation in high-income occupations would serve to encourage training and professional development opportunities.
  • As Indigenous employees exceed median employment income levels with higher levels of education, this is even greater incentive to develop policies and programs to support Indigenous students towards higher levels of education. Continued showcasing of examples of Indigenous success, mentorship and leadership should be encouraged to enable students to envision the role of education in their future success.


  • The Community well-being index was identified by the Auditor General as lacking comprehensiveness in focusing primarily on economic indicators, not sufficiently utilizing First Nations data and not meaningfully engaging with First Nations to consider Indigenous meanings of community well-being. Health, the environment, language and culture are aspects that are being considered for future study and the Department has committed to working with Indigenous organizations to co-develop a broad dashboard of well-being outcomes to reflect mutually agreed upon metrics. Although the integration of new metrics will make historical comparisons of the CWB problematic, the more thorough assessment of community well-being for Indigenous communities will add considerable value. Consulting with all Indigenous groups will ensure diverse lived-experiences are considered. We look forward to these improvements in measuring outcomes of community well-being for the 2022 Report.


  • The Board would like to stress the importance of improving educational opportunities for the Indigenous population, especially First Nations on reserve. In this regard, a well-funded education system is essential and the development of strong basic skills (literacy and numeracy) in the early grades should be a top priority.
  • Supports for community-based education must recognize the challenges faced by Indigenous students who must leave the community to attend high school and prioritize their physical and mental health, as well as cultural supports both where they attend high school and within the community to ensure ongoing student success.
  • Given the high levels of college/trades completion, bridging programs to support students who wish to upgrade these certifications towards university degrees would fast track higher levels of education and employment opportunities. Such programs currently exist in some colleges to give credit for 1-2 year programs towards university degree requirements and expansion would further assist Indigenous students towards the attainment of higher education levels.
  • Universities in each of the 3 Northern territories would support students in reducing the high costs and long distances currently required to attend university and increase the availability of a highly educated talent pool in the North. Yukon College is transitioning to Yukon University in 2020, Aurora College in the Northwest Territories is examining the feasibility of transitioning to Northern Canada Polytechnic University, and Arctic College in Nunavut is following recommendations to continue partnering with southern universities rather than pursue a university in Nunavut. In the interim, investment in distance education programs to assist remote students with obtaining higher levels of education would remove some barriers of expense and distance.
  • Ongoing and expanded scholarship funding for Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary education would reduce financial barriers and encourage higher educational attainment rates.


  • Research by CCAB suggests that barriers for business development include a lack of knowledge of where and how to apply for financing, as well as types of funding available and eligibility. Enhanced, more specific and greater availability of business services along with communications to increase awareness of application programs and support would benefit entrepreneurs seeking capital financing. Additionally, access to skills training for new business owners would assist with the development of business management skills to support business success.
  • Given the legislation on reserve which disallows tax exemption and therefore discourages incorporation, and information to suggest incorporation is associated with revenue generation, further consideration of how First Nations on reserve businesses could be better supported should be examined.
  • Access to capital remains a barrier to economic development. It is essential that the Aboriginal Financial Institutions are funded to ensure Indigenous entrepreneurs, often less likely to acquire financing from personal home equity or other sources, are able to obtain financing.


  • Strong governance and transparent financial management have led to robust economic development opportunities for Indigenous communities across Canada. The availability of tax revenues to support local development is initiated by the development of property taxation bylaws and supported by skilled and transparent community Financial Management Certification. Ongoing and expanded support for Indigenous communities wishing to pursue these opportunities will further ready communities to direct their own economic development opportunities.
  • Due to an increase in Indigenous populations off reserve/out of territory, the NIEDB recommends the examination of needs and opportunities aimed at the more than 50% of Indigenous peoples living in urban populations.


  • The Additions to Reserve process provides a mechanism to address outstanding land transfers, but is currently backlogged by approximately 1,300 active applications of which eighty percent of all files represent a legal obligation for the Crown which must be addressed. There is a need to increase resources to the Additions to Reserve program to expedite applications, however there wasn’t any funding announced in the 2019/2020 Federal Budget that was specific to the ATR program. The NIEDB recommends that future Federal Budgets announce funding to enhance and expedite the administration of the ATR program.


  • Although indications suggest that all drinking water advisories will be lifted by 2022, it is essential that this time line not be disrupted and risk management protocols are developed to ensure all DWAs are lifted as soon as possible. Further, ongoing financial commitments must be assured to maintain infrastructure, human resources and testing protocols.
  • Housing remains an ongoing issue that affects all aspects of socio-economic life in Indigenous communities. Although significant investments have been made, ongoing investments are required to ensure homes are repaired and new homes are built to keep pace with growing communities. The newly introduced Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative will hopefully encourage new building methods, materials, architecture or engineering to serve Indigenous families and the environments they live in.
  • This report has demonstrated that connectivity in Northern and remote communities is significantly below levels for all other communities, including remote non-Indigenous communities. Connectivity impacts virtually every aspect of our lives, and predictions for the future of work include an increasing reliance on connectivity and economic progress divided along lines of access to a global economy based on connectivity. Increasing speed and data capacity to all Indigenous communities is essential to social and economic development. Forecasting community need to be ahead of current demand and in consideration of housing realities will ensure connectivity is less likely to be outdated before it becomes a reality.
  • The Infrastructure Index Report captures the current infrastructure picture for remote Indigenous communities in Canada. Updating the index every two years to measure progress in reducing the Indigenous infrastructure gap would be useful.


  • Findings indicate that although men have lower educational outcomes than women, they nevertheless earn more than women in the same occupations and industries. In order to understand the sources of these gaps (e.g. family care work responsibilities), a study could be conducted on the particular barriers experienced by Indigenous women in advancing in these occupations and industries with results used to inform policy and programs to improve educational outcomes in men and employment/income outcomes in women.
  • Indigenous men and women demonstrate different educational outcomes. Policies and strategies directed towards increasing high school, college/trades, and university completion rates among Indigenous peoples could address the unique barriers experienced differently by men and women and could be targeted for program and policy development accordingly (e.g. childcare).


  • Entrepreneurship should be promoted and supported as a valid career option for youth through the mentorship and showcasing of Indigenous business leaders and ventures. Government-funded Indigenous youth entrepreneurship/start-up financing should also include essential business services training and coaching/mentorship services.
  • We specifically recommend that the Government create urban Indigenous healing and employment hubs; invest in basic education infrastructure; develop distance education training; create an alumni fund to enable mentorship; and invest in Indigenous scholarship funding to support post-secondary education.
  • Given this strong influence of parents and family on education outcomes – it is important to consider family and community when creating programs that promote education and employment skills for youth. Community inclusion in the development of programming will be essential.

The Indigenomics Institute

The Indigenomics Institute is an Indigenous economic advisory for public governments, Indigenous communities and the private sector. The Indigenomics Institute focuses on four core areas in overcoming Indigenous economic barriers and addressing challenges:


Indigenomics honors the powerful thinking of Indigenous wisdom of local economy, relationships and human values. Indigenomics is about increasing the role and visibility of Indigenous peoples in the new economy. It is about understanding indigenous ways of being and worldview. Indigenomics draws on ancient principles that have supported indigenous economies for thousands of years, and works to implement them as modern practices.

Indigenomics By Design – 100 Billion Dollar Conference 2019 June 24-26

It will introduce the Indigenomics economic mix, a series of economic levers to support the focused growth of the Indigenous economy towards achieving a 100 billion Indigenous annual economy. It will further introduce the concept of the development of an Indigenomics Economic Council to support the metrics and outcomes of the emerging 100 billion dollar national Indigenous economy.

  • National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association
  • National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association
  • First Nations Major Projects Coalition, and the
  • Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Association. ​
Economic Lever 1Leadership in Indigenous Equity
Economic Lever 2Infrastructure and the 100 Billion Dollar Indigenous Economy
Economic Lever 3The Role of Procurement in a 100 billion dollar Indigenous Economy
Economic Lever 4The Role of Trade in the Indigenous Economy 
Economic Lever 5The Growth of Indigenous Entrepreneurship
Economic Lever 6The Capitalization of the Indigenous Economy
Economic Lever 7The Growth of Indigenous Clean Energy
Economic Lever 8The Role of Social Enterprise in the Emerging Indigenous Economy
Economic Lever 9Reconciliation in the Indigenous Economy Leadership of the Philanthropic Community
Economic Lever 10Leadership in ECommerce
Economic Lever 11The Role of Technology in the Growing Indigenous Economy
Economic Lever 12Leadership in the Investment Environment 

Other Actions and Commitments By Theme

CCAB: Progressive Aboriginal Relations

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Industry Association Commitments

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Business Advocacy Groups

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