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Launch Of The 2019 Indigenous Economic Reconciliation Report

Press Release

The National Indigenous Economic Board (NIEDB) launches its 2019 Indigenous Economic Reconciliation Report.

Ottawa, ON – December 10, 2019 – To inform a path forward on addressing the socio-economic gap for Indigenous peoples in the context of reconciliation, the Board hosted a three-part series, in 2017 and 2018, on economic reconciliation and inclusive growth in Canada. The series was called “Expanding the Circle: What Reconciliation and Inclusive Economic Growth Can Mean for Indigenous Peoples and Canada?” These events were organized in partnership with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA), the Public Policy Forum (PPF), and the former Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

The interest in the Expanding the Circle series stems from the Board’s 2016 research which indicated that if all opportunities were equal and the Indigenous labour force was fully mobilized, it could lead to a $27.7 billion annual contribution to the Canadian GDP.

The Indigenous Economic Reconciliation Report and its recommendations are the result of what the Board heard during these forums and is informed by the Board’s 2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report which indicates that economic outcomes have been improving overall for Indigenous peoples in Canada, but are not on track to meet 2022 targets of economic parity. The report concludes that the Government of Canada must take immediate, significant, and clear steps towards closing the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of The Honour of the Crown, based on the existing Aboriginal rights upheld and recognized in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Yet, reconciliation is not solely the government’s responsibility; all Canadians must be involved.

The report is divided into two main sections. The first part focuses on four key recommendations based on common themes and issues raised during the three forums:

  1. Procurement: establish a comprehensive and easy to access directory of Indigenous businesses (similar to Australia’s Supply Nation), and provide meaningful funding to Indigenous businesses to increase awareness and readiness for procurement opportunities.
  2. Access to capital: adequately fund Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs), provide AFIs loan loss protections, and devolve economic development programming to AFIs.
  3. Capacity development: put in place incentives, including funding, internships and scholarships to increase Indigenous participation in business training and certification; and encourage post-secondary education institutions to increase access to these programs for Indigenous learners.
  4. Wealth sharing: implement strategies and innovative options to increase equity positions and involvement of Indigenous peoples in resource development, and to support growth of traditional economies and participation in environmental stewardship.

The second part provides an overview each of the three forums. For instance, the First Nations forum focused on concrete actions to move away from the Indian Act. The Métis forum outlined the significance of Métis rights to economic reconciliation. Finally, the Inuit forum highlighted importance of properly implementing land claims. While there were common themes across the three events, some of what the Board heard at each event was unique from the perspective of First Nations, Métis and Inuit, which speaks to the importance of providing for distinctions-based approaches to economic reconciliation.

The Board anticipates hosting three follow-up forums in 2022, as well as a follow-up report on economic reconciliation will be released in 2023 which will include data from the 2022 NIEDB Indigenous Economic Progress Report. The Board will use these tools to track, monitor, and assess the state of economic reconciliation in Canada. The Board will keep economic reconciliation and these four key areas as an ongoing topic of discussion during its meetings with ministers and government officials. The report will also be linked to a broader National Indigenous Economic Development Strategy. The Board calls upon Indigenous organizations to share this report within their networks, upon corporate Canada to concretely commit to reconciliation, and upon Canadians to educate themselves on these issues and to disseminate this information.

The 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. Composed of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis business and community leaders from across Canada, the Board helps governments respond to the unique needs and circumstances of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

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