Business and Reconciliation (92): Background Content

Indigenous-led Initiatives

November 10, 2022

AFOA Canada launches new certification program aimed at closing the infrastructure gap facing Indigenous communities

New program will be created in collaboration with TD Bank Group and the Canada Infrastructure Bank  

NationTalk: OTTAWA, ON – AFOA Canada has collaborated with the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and TD Bank Group (TD) to develop a project financing certification program that will strengthen Indigenous peoples and communities abilities to structure and manage large infrastructure projects. The new certification program developed by AFOA Canada, focused on project financing and sponsored by the CIB and TD, will include modules focused on risk management and project financing, contracting and asset maintenance.

Indigenous communities face challenges with limited human and financial resources and capacity, and great demand to deliver on programs and services. The certification program will empower Indigenous communities to better understand project financing for large infrastructure projects, providing participants with more confidence to work with external consultants. The program will help build capacity in Indigenous communities to support future economic growth.

“Many Indigenous communities are on a journey from the management of poverty to the management of socio economic prosperity and that requires the development of new knowledge and skills,” said Terry Goodtrack, President and CEO, AFOA Canada, “Our organization supports the professionals overseeing that journey and the certification will provide the development of those skills. This collaboration with TD Bank Group and the CIB will allow us to train more people and address the barriers in advancing Indigenous infrastructure”

“As part of the CIB’s mandate, we provide advisory services and build capacity for Indigenous participation in large-scale projects and are committed to the Government of Canada’s path to Reconciliation. By collaborating with AFOA Canada and TD Bank Group, we are supporting more equitable access to training, and education opportunities for Indigenous communities,” said Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank. “Enhanced project finance training will ensure Indigenous communities have the resources to access capital and develop infrastructure projects that prioritize local needs and deliver positive outcomes.”

“We are very proud to support AFOA Canada through the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank’s corporate citizenship strategy,” said Doris Bear, Vice President, Indigenous Banking, TD Bank Group. “Through this unique certification program, professionals from Indigenous communities will be able to build capacity in key areas of large infrastructure initiatives, which will have a direct and tangible impact on many Indigenous communities.”

According to the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, the infrastructure deficit across First Nations in Canada has been estimated to be between $25 to $30 billion.


AFOA Canada
Entering its 23rd year as an Indigenous Institution, AFOA Canada is the centre for excellence and innovation in Indigenous management, finance, and governance.  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 management, finance, band administration, leadership, and program management.

AFOA Canada’s premise is that one of the keys to successful self-determination, creating a better life for Canada’s Indigenous people and a better future for the next generation lies in improving the management skills of those responsible for the stewardship of Indigenous resources.

Media inquiries 

Douglas Beaver,
Director of Marketing and Communications
Telephone: (613) 722-5543

Partner links

TD Bank
Canada Infrastructure Bank

May 17, 2022

AFOA Canada partnership with Harvard Business School

Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities program

More Indigenous professionals from across Canada have attended Harvard University through a unique partnership between AFOA Canada and the Harvard Business School (HBS). From May 9-13, 2022 AFOA Canada members together with participants from the United States, Australia and New Zealand achieved an Executive Education Program Certificate.

The Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities program utilizes the HBS case study method to teach participants investment tools, products, and practices, and how to use them in a community context. Participants include elected leaders, senior managers, youth, and AFOA Canada Certified members.

“It’s been an incredible week learning from various business cases that have enhanced our ability to build strategic plans that will benefit our Nations for today but also for the seven generations to come,” says Emily Martell, an Indigenous youth participant from Waterhen Lake Cree Nation, Sask.

This is the fourth year the program has run, a total of 182 Indigenous people have attended through AFOA Canada. A fifth cohort is expected to take place May 2023.

“I am looking forward to seeing how participants of this program will apply what they have learned toward improving the lives of our peoples,” says Terry Goodtrack, President and CEO, AFOA Canada.

AFOA Canada would like to thank Harvard University, CPA Canada, Nutrien, RBC Royal Bank and TD Bank for sponsoring participants.

AFOA Canada is entering its 23rd year as an Indigenous Institution with approximately 1400 members across Canada. It has become a recognized leader in developing certified capacity in Indigenous management, finance, and governance.

January 18, 2023

Chief Crystal Smith: First Nations want an energy future, not eco-colonialism

Industry and to some extent government, have learned to work with First Nations to establish genuine economic reconciliation opportunities, particularly in the energy sector.

Chief Crystal Smith

NationTalk: The Mirror – Premier David Eby should not be persuaded by a recent activists’ ultimatum calling on him to place rejection of liquefied natural gas projects at “top-of-mind” to meet emission targets.

For one thing, an Angus Reid poll shows that B.C. residents rank cost of living, inflation, health care, and housing affordability as their top issues. The premier is unlikely to choose climate hysteria over the electorates’ more immediate concerns.

For another, the notion that Indigenous people would gain from this dark chorus is equally disconnected. The premier would do better to match his priorities with the First Nations LNG Alliance, a collective of First Nations who support and participate in sustainable LNG development.

While it is true that Indigenous people have seldom benefitted from major projects in their territories, industry and to some extent government, have learned to work with First Nations to establish genuine economic reconciliation opportunities, particularly in the energy sector. As a result, two of the LNG export projects that the ultimatum opposes are proposed by First Nations: The Cedar LNG project led by my Haisla Nation, and the Ksi Lisims project proposed by the Nisga’a Nation.

Indigenous people are also achieving employment, contracting, procurement, revenue sharing and other impact benefits from the Coastal GasLink pipeline project as well as acquiring equity stakes in energy projects.

Being pushed to the economic margins by climate activism would be as tragic as the original colonial dispossession.

Moreover, First Nations are making these gains with a clear eye to the environmental and climate consequences. BC’s First Nations Climate Initiative was represented at the recent COP 27 meeting in Egypt. Participation in environmental assessments is standard practice and no project receives Indigenous support unless environmental risks have been weighed by the community.

Focused only on a fractional reduction in Canada’s overall emissions, the stark demand of the climate activists remains oblivious to other basic considerations. Already economically vulnerable, most First Nations are heavily exposed to the consequences of adding energy poverty to domestic poverty. Unaffordable energy costs would compound cost of living increases in the rural, remote and northern locations where most First Nations communities are located and where travel distances are greater, public transit is non-existent, home heating requirements are greater and supply chains are longer.

There is also the question of how Canada will finance the social programs which First Nations and others rely upon without the revenues that flow from a robust energy sector? It seems unlikely that Canada’s new billion-dollar plan to boost the critical minerals sector for the manufacture of electric vehicles would replace revenues lost by destruction of the energy sector, although it will create challenges and opportunities in the territories where new developments will occur.

They need to be reminded that the right of Indigenous peoples to benefit from the wealth of their territories is recognized in recent court decisions and in the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Premier Eby is obligated to respect under provincial legislation. 

If left to climate activists, Indigenous people would be the last to benefit, the last to participate, and the last to be connected to new infrastructure.

But not this time. First Nations will be full participants in the future. Not the cold, dark future that eco-colonialism offers, but a fair and prosperous future that Indigenous people helped plan, design and build.

Crystal Smith is the elected chief councillor of the Haisla Nation in B.C., chair of the First Nations LNG Alliance, and a founder of the First Nations Climate Initiative.

April 25, 2023

BC, Fed. Govt.

First Nations and US Tribes gather for a continental discussion about Indigenous values in deal-making

Over 1500 delegates from Indigenous nations, industry and government gather in Vancouver to showcase leading successful Indigenous-industry deals from around the world

NationTalk: COAST SALISH TERRITORY — The Canadian-based First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC) is hosting over 1500 delegates representing Indigenous nations, industry, and government at the Westin Bayshore hotel April 24th & 25th to showcase leading successful Indigenous-industry deals from around the world.

The purpose of the conference is to demonstrate how the inclusion of Indigenous nations throughout a company’s value chain is a competitive advantage in getting major projects approved, funded, built, and operating profitably.

The conference features Indigenous equity deals and host discussions between Indigenous leaders from the US and Canada with industry, investors, and government officials on how integrating Indigenous nations’ values in proposed developments strengthens projects by improving outcomes that are not only important to First Nations, but increasingly to investors.

“Most of the proposed solutions for achieving net zero by 2050 rely on using Indigenous lands and resources to build clean energy infrastructure and extraction projects worth up to CAD$6 trillion,” stated Chief Sharleen Gale, Chief of Fort Nelson First Nation & Chair of FNMPC. “Given that all these projects will be built on or near Indigenous lands, Indigenous people on both sides of the shared Canada-United States border expect substantive participation in all the proposed clean energy infrastructure and critical mineral projects that Indigenous nations are expected to host. For these climate critical projects to be successful, they must align with Indigenous values. To align with Indigenous values, Indigenous nations must be partners in the projects.”

” The companies that embrace partnership and deal creation with Indigenous nations are ahead of their competitors,” added Niilo Edwards, CEO of FNMPC. “This advantage is because Indigenous value-based partnerships bring project certainty, long-term, multiple-generation thinking about environmental and community impacts, and aligning societally inclusive approaches to economic wellbeing. Indigenous-industry partnerships may include equity ownership, positions on project boards and advisory committees, procurement partnerships, or all of these.”

Speakers include:

  • Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister, Natural Resources Canada
  • Dr. Katy Huff, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Office of Nuclear Energy, Department of Energy
  • Kate Gordon, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Honourable Josie Osborne, Minister, Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, Government of B.C.
  • Premier David Eby, Government of British Columbia
  • Hilary Tompkins (Navajo Nation), Partner, Hogan Lovells
  • Chief Emeritus Emily Whetung, Curve Lake First Nation
  • Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister, Indigenous Services Canda
  • Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank
  • Greg Ebel, President & CEO, Enbridge
  • David Kakuktinniq (Inuit), President, Nukik Corporation
  • Ambassador David L. Cohen, U.S. Ambassador to Canada
  • Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development, Government of Ontario
  • Kate Finn (Osage Nation), Executive Director, First Peoples Worldwide

Media contact:

Allie Meeres
P: 778-918-1250

About FNMPC:

The First Nations Major Project Coalition (FNMPC) is an Indigenous-led non-profit organization with 130+ First Nations members across Canada who are pursuing better environmental and economic outcomes for major projects proposed in their territories. The FNMPC is currently providing business capacity support to its members on nine major projects located across Canada, each with a First Nations equity investment component, and a portfolio exceeding a combined total capital cost of over CAD$40 billion. The FNMPC’s primary focus on business capacity support includes tools that help First Nations inform their decisions on both the economic and environmental considerations associated with major project development. In Canada, this is important for both attracting competitive capital investment as well as de-risking the projects in terms of Indigenous free, prior, and informed consent.

March 15, 2023

First-of-its-kind Arctic tech forum brings Inuit together in Iqaluit

Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corporation hopes to make forum a regular event

Two people, one with a microphone, sit at a table.
Madeleine Redfern, right, is the chief operating officer of CanArctic Inuit Networks. She spoke about the need for events like the Inuit Technology Forum to be held in the North rather than in southern areas of Canada.(David Gunn/CBC)

CBC News: Inuit from across Inuit Nunangat are gathered in Iqaluit this week for a North-focused forum on technology. The event is the first of its kind to be held in Iqaluit. The Inuit Technology Forum started Tuesday at the Aqsarniit Hotel and is expected to wrap up Thursday.

The conference is focused on bringing the public and private sectors together to discuss the challenges and opportunities technology presents for Inuit and their communities — everything from internet access to cybersecurity to the use of technology for fisheries and research.

Madeleine Redfern, the chief operating officer of CanArctic Inuit Networks and the former mayor of Iqaluit, was part of a panel of people to present on energy innovation. She said she has felt frustrated in the past because these conferences are usually held in the south.

“We’re talking about Arctic: Arctic innovation, and Arctic development, and Arctic opportunities,” she said. “It’s important for private sector and government — especially from the federal government in Ottawa — to come here and experience our reality.”

It’s also important, she added, for governments and businesses to see the amount of interest many Inuit have in technology and their desire to be part of it. “We want to develop businesses and Inuit development corporations, and have equity considerations in these major projects, whether they’re in energy or telecommunications or transportation,” Redfern said.

Tuesday’s events included several speakers who presented on creating new energy options, the technology of tomorrow and business support for tech companies in the territory.

Other topics, such as internet speed, caught the interest of Kirt Ejesiak, who owns Arctic UAV Inc. His business provides drone services in the territory, but a lack of strong internet limits what they’re capable of doing.

A portrait of a happy man with a big smile on his face.
Kirt Ejesiak is the owner of Arctic UAV. (David Gunn/CBC)

“We have lots of big promises here … but often it’s not exactly what we get,” he said, adding he thinks it’s part of the job of Inuit who attended the forum to hold governments and companies accountable for their promises.

Sheldon Nimchuk, the director of project development and business partnerships with Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corporation, and who organized the event, said his hope is that the forum will happen again — and that it will grow into an annual or biannual event. “I think the significance of it is that effort to bring what is happening in the Inuit regions currently, to explore ideas on what could be coming in the future,” Nimchuk said.

With files from Colm Cobb


November 24, 2022

Launch of RoadMap – a pathway toward economic reconciliation

NationTalk: OTTAWA – The First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB) will launch a practical and optional framework to advance Indigenous economic reconciliation on Nov. 29 in Ottawa. RoadMap offers realistic and implementable options to empower First Nations governments to move past the failed one-size-fits-all approach. The RoadMap Project supports the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), through Indigenous-led initiatives.

The RoadMap Project will empower:

  • Informed policy decisions supported by statistics and data
  • Better infrastructure though institutional support and improved access to capital
  • Economic reconciliation through strong Indigenous economies
  • Greater self-sufficiency through options to expand First Nations jurisdiction and fiscal powers
  • Economies of scale and improved service delivery through First Nations working together
  • Strengthened governance through capacity development and support from Indigenous Institutions

The First Nations Fiscal Management Act (FMA) institutions are the driving force behind this project. The FMA institutions have a proven track record of supporting First Nations as they grow their economies and enhance their financial and administrative governance.

For more information on the launch of RoadMap and interview opportunities, please contact:

Robert South
Acting Director, Strategic Opportunities
C 613-292-1847
More on RoadMap
More on FMB

January 7, 2021

Mi’kmaq First Nations Coalition purchse of Clearwater Seafoods

Clearwater – FNC Holdings Limited Partnership representing a coalition of Mi’kmaq First Nations and Premium Brands Holdings Corporation through a new equally owned corporation, 12385104 Canada Inc., will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Clearwater.

November 9, 2020

Mi’kmaq First Nations Coalition purchse of Clearwater Seafoods

First Nations Finance Authority – Provided a $250M loan to the Mi’kmaq First Nations Coalition comprised of communities from across Nova Scotia and Newfoundland:

  • Membertou
  • Waycobah
  • Potlotek
  • Paqtnkek
  • Pictou Landing
  • Sipekne’katik, and
  • Miawpukek.

The loan was to purchase the Canadian off-shore fishing licences from Clearwater Seafoods resulting in a 50% equity share in Clearwater. Under the announced agreement, the First Nations will receive contractual revenues on a quarterly basis from Clearwater which will have a significant impact by creating revenue and boosting their economies.
“This landmark deal which was made possible by a $250 million loan from FNFA shows the collective purchasing power of First Nations when they stand together,” said Ernie Daniels, President and CEO of the FNFA. “It demonstrates we are stronger when we work together in building the Indigenous economy.”

January 26, 2023


Tahltan Nation and Nisg̱a’a Nation Announce New Partnership That Will Maximize Economic Benefits at The Seabridge KSM Project

NationTalk: Announced today, Tahltan Nation and Nisg̱a’a Nation (the “Nations”) have joined together in a new partnership. This partnership brings new life to a historic and centuries-old Peace Treaty, through the Treaty Creek Limited Partnership. The new partnership will optimize their participation at the Seabridge KSM project, further establishing the Nations as industry leaders in mining and exploration. This historic partnership was announced at AME Roundup in Vancouver, a conference hosted by the Association for Minerals Exploration.

The partnership between the Nations has been established through their respective development corporations, Tahltan Nation Development Corporation and Nisg̱a’a Growth Corporation. Both Nations will be equal partners in the newly established Treaty Creek Limited Partnership (the “Partnership”). Through the Partnership, there will be new opportunities for Nation members through training, employment, and contraction with KSM.

The Nations have a long-standing, historical relationship that dates back centuries, including putting their differences aside and coming to a mutual understanding on the boundaries of their respective traditional territories. This was acknowledged and settled at Treaty Creek in 1898. Further, in 1977 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Terrace, reaffirming the Nations’ allegiance to one another. Most recently, the Nations’ partnership was further solidified at the Special Assembly of the Nisg̱a’a Nation in New Aiyansh in May 2016 and again at Hoobiyee in Ging̱olx in 2019.

“On behalf of both the Nisga’a Nation and the Tahltan Nation, I would like to acknowledge Seabridge for their support and encouragement for the creation of our Treaty Creek Limited Partnership, and their willingness to actively engage and work with our Partnership on their KSM project, the world’s largest undeveloped gold project,” says Carol Danielson, Chair, Tahltan Nation Development Corporation.

“Today we are bringing life to our long-standing relationship and historical memorandum of understanding by implementing those very provisions of the MOU that are intended to improve the quality of life of our Nisg̱a’a and Tahltan people” said Nisg̱a’a Nation President Eva Clayton.  “Through our partnership, we are creating a circle of certainty in the Golden Triangle that will attract investors to work with us in our territories.”

“In 2019, the Tahltan Nation had the honour of participating in the Hobiyee Celebration in the Nisga’a Village of Gingolx, where both Nations re-affirmed and committed to implementing the guiding principles of our May 3, 2016, Memorandum of Understanding. Together, we agreed to make our relationship an alliance. That has come to fruition with the creation of the Treaty Creek Limited Partnership, whereby the Nisga’a Nation and Tahltan Nation will combine forces to maximize joint opportunities on the Seabridge KSM Project,” said Chad Norman Day, President of the Tahltan Central Government.

The Nisg̱a’a Nation settled the first modern-day Treaty in British Columbia in May 2000, providing ownership of over 2,000 sq. km of Nisg̱a’a Lands in fee simple, constitutionally protected rights to over 26,000 sq. km of Nisg̱a’a Traditional Lands (the “Nass Area”), and law-making authority.

The Nisg̱a’a Nation has appointed Chris McNeil and Andrew Robinson as its two Directors to the Partnership.

“There is so much potential to increase capacity with both Nations.  Working together can only optimize participation in the industry while ensuring we are providing those capable with the support and tools to ensure they can build sustainable, life-time careers in the industry” said Andrew Robinson, Director, Treaty Creek Limited Partnership.


Bobby Clark, Director of Communications & Intergovernmental Relations
Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government
(250) 615 3786


May 11, 2000, marked the end of a 113-year journey — and the first steps in a new direction. On that date, the Effective Date of the Nisg̱a’a Final Agreement, the Indian Act ceased to apply to Nisg̱a’a people. The Nisg̱a’a Final Agreement is the first treaty in British Columbia to provide constitutional certainty in respect of an Aboriginal people’s Section 35 right to self-government. The Treaty recognizes Nisg̱a’a Lands (2,000 square kilometres) and opens the door for joint economic initiatives in the development of the Nisg̱a’a Nation’s natural resources.

Proud British Columbians and Canadians, Nisg̱a’a citizens are responsible for building and maintaining their own institutions. The Nisg̱a’a Nation is represented by the Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government (NLG) — a modern, forward thinking administration based on traditional culture and values. Nisg̱a’a Government has the authority to pass laws on a broad range of matters. At the same time, Nisg̱a’a lawmaking authority is concurrent with federal and provincial authority. Designed to assure democracy, transparency, and accountability, Nisg̱a’a Government is comprised of NLG, the four Nisg̱a’a Village Governments, and three Nisg̱a’a Urban Locals.


Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC) – the business arm of the Tahltan Nation – is owned by its shareholders – Iskut Band, Tahltan Band, and Tahltan Central Government – and partial profits are returned to the shareholders for initiatives to benefit Tahltan members. TNDC was founded in 1985 by visionary, progressive Tahltan leaders who wanted to ensure the Tahltan Nation benefits from the economic activities and development occurring within Tahltan Territory and to provide employment, training, and contracting opportunities to Tahltan members. From its roots in residential construction, TNDC’s services have expanded to heavy construction, earthworks, camp services, air support, aviation, forestry, transportation, and fibre-optic communications services. TNDC serves the resource exploration, mine development and mining, building construction, forestry, hydroelectric power, civil, infrastructure and public works sectors.


The Tahltan Central Government (TCG) is the administrative governing body of the Tahltan Nation and is the representative government of the Tahltan Nation with respect to the inherent and collective Aboriginal title and rights shared by all Tahltan people. The Tahltan Nation’s Territory spans 95,933 square km of Northwest British Columbia or the equivalent of 11 per cent of the province.


Seabridge Gold holds a 100% interest in several North American gold projects. Seabridge’s assets include the KSM and Iskut projects located near Stewart, British Columbia, Canada, the Courageous Lake project located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Snowstorm project in the Getchell Gold Belt of Northern Nevada and the 3 Aces project set in the Yukon Territory. For a full breakdown of Seabridge’s mineral reserves and mineral resources by category please visit the Company’s website at

Seabridge Gold’s KSM Project is a proposed gold, copper, silver and molybdenum mine with the Environmental Assessment approved mine life of more than 50 years. The Project hosts the largest undeveloped gold resource in the world with measured and indicated gold resources totaling more than 88.3 million ounces. The Project also contains 19.4 billion pounds of copper, 414 million ounces of silver, and 742 million pounds of Molybdenum in the measured and indicated resource categories. Seabridge Gold has spent more than $650 million on the exploration, engineering, development and environmental work to responsibly advance the KSM Project and in 2021 started undertaking early-stage construction to secure ‘Substantially Started’ status by July 2026. The KSM Project has the potential to bring jobs and economic benefits to local communities for generations to come. For More information, please visit