Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business announces the recipients of the 2023 Business Lifetime Achievement Award and the Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award

The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) plans a celebration to honour Dawn Madahbee Leach as the 2023 Business Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and Lesley Hampton, as the recipient of the Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award. Recognizing their contributions to the Indigenous economy at different stages in their careers, both are to be honoured and celebrated at an Awards Dinner following CCAB’s Central Business Forum on February 7th at the Marriott Toronto Eaton Centre.

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Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates

Victoria LaBillois, Vice-Chairperson of the NIEDB, participated as a witness in a meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) on December 5, 2022.

During this session, Victoria LaBillois spoke to the issue of diversity in procurement. The official recommendations put forth by the NIEDB are as follows:

  • Significant investment is necessary for the establishment of a new Indigenous-led procurement institution at the national level;
  • Very low current thresholds for non-competitive processes and sole-source contracting must be increased;
  • The target for the total value of federal contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses should be proportionally higher than 5% where geographically warranted;
  • Training on Indigenous cultural awareness for procurement officials should be mandatory; and,
  • The government should monitor and report on an annual basis, distinct from other reporting processes, whether or not each federal department is meeting its mandated 5% Indigenous procurement target.

Additional witnesses:

  • Philip Ducharme, Vice President, Entrepreneurship and Procurement, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
  • Ray Wanuch, Executive Director, Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers
  • Shannin Metatawabin, Chief Executive Officer, National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association

Read the full transcript here

Policy Forum: Establishing an Urban Reserve—Property Tax Challenges and Opportunities

ABSTRACT: Urban reserves offer a unique economic development tool for First Nation governments by providing access to markets and infrastructure unavailable on most reserve lands in Canada. Asimakiniseekan Askiy is Canada’s first urban reserve established on land previously owned by a city. The urban reserve was established in Saskatoon by the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in 1988. Asimakiniseekan Askiy provides an example of the economic potential of urban reserves for First Nations and their members, as well as municipal governments and their citizens. The urban reserve is currently home to 60 First Nation and non-First Nation businesses and their 700 employees. In 2020, the urban reserve contributed $465,662 to the city of Saskatoon in service fee payments. However, before this economic potential could be realized, property taxation presented a sizable barrier in the path of taking Asimakiniseekan Askiy from an innovative idea to a successful reality. Establishing an urban reserve has significant property tax implications, since the process requires the transfer of property from the taxing authority of a municipal jurisdiction to the tax jurisdiction of a First Nation government. Agreements providing for the transfer of tax authority also include negotiations relating to the continued provision of services to the urban reserve by the municipality. This article first provides a summary of the statutory environment surrounding the formation and taxation of an urban reserve. A case study of the establishment and 33 years of operation of Asimakiniseekan Askiy is then provided, to illustrate the property tax implications and municipal service agreement process necessary for Canadian communities to achieve the economic benefits of urban reserves. The authors identify property tax challenges inherent in the establishment of an urban reserve and offer recommendations to improve access to urban reserves as an innovative economic development tool.

Full report

NIEDB Chair Witnesses Signing of Indigenous Collaboration Agreement between Canada and New Zealand

Dawn Madahbee Leach, Chairperson of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NIEDB), accompanied the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, to Aotearoa-New Zealand from August 20 to 28, 2022, and was joined on Canada’s Indigenous delegation by Dr. Brenda Gunn, of the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, Gerri Sharpe, President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, and Sharon Nate, Executive Director (Education) of the Matawa Tribal Council.

During this visit (August 24), Minister Hajdu signed the Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Aotearoa-New Zealand. The Arrangement will promote and facilitate the socio-economic, political, educational, well-being, cultural and environmental advancements of Indigenous peoples in both countries.

“The deepening of the Canada-New Zealand relationship on Indigenous trade issues and inter-governmental collaboration is a powerful catalyst for change. Both Canada and New Zealand are beginning to understand the value and complexities of Indigenous knowledge and kinship. Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike prosper when Indigenous jurisdiction and authority, and cultural values and languages, are affirmed and celebrated, when fair solutions to land-related claims are implemented, and when reliable community infrastructure is realized.”

Dawn Madahbee Leach
Chairperson of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Full Press Release

Dr. Marie Delorme Receives National Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations

The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) proudly announces Dr. Marie Delorme as the recipient of the 2022 Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations.

CCAB’s Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations is given annually to a bridge builder who has contributed to making connections between Indigenous people and Canadian society through their professional and voluntary commitments.

Full press release

Defining Indigenous Businesses in Canada

“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.

Drawing 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.

Read the full report here

Current status of Broadband Connectivity in First Nations Communities in B.C.

The following report entitled “Current status of Broadband Connectivity in First Nations Communities in B.C.”, prepared by Dr. Ruth Williams and presented to the National Board, illustrates how the pandemic has highlighted a major challenge for Indigenous communities to fully participate and flourish in the Canadian economy.

“The question isn’t ‘can we afford to connect our First Nations communities?’ It’s ‘how can we afford not to connect them?’”

The lack of reliable broadband infrastructure, affordability, and adequate connectivity, including the inability to receive virtual services, such as remote healthcare and remote education, has been a long-standing barrier faced by many Indigenous communities across the country.

Additionally, the lack of general infrastructure in many communities, notably remote and northern communities, needs to be addressed. Although some progress has been made, significant investments will be needed to increase broadband capacity overall. Urgent review and analysis of community needs is necessary, and long overdue, to close the digital divide.

Read the full report here

Indigenous Working Group Launches a National Indigenous Economic Strategy for Canada

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board celebrates the official launch of the National Indigenous Economic Strategy for Canada.

In collaboration with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA), Indigenous Works, and the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando), the National Indigenous Economic Strategy is a 10-year Indigenous-led strategy intended to guide all levels of government, Indigenous entities and communities, small and medium-sized enterprises, and non-Indigenous organizations and institutions.

Economic strategy is an immensely important piece of our growth as Indigenous communities in Canada. I am continuously inspired by the robust projects and offerings from our people from coast to coast to coast.

Creating pathways forward in business ensures transformational opportunities for the next generation and the seven generations to come. Our unique advantage as Indigenous developers and entrepreneurs is our connection to tradition; we’re guided by our core principles and infuse our culture into everything we touch. For too long, that’s been viewed as a drawback. Today, we proudly lead with our cultural values, and we’re stronger because of them.

Working together to share this Economic Strategy bolsters our ability to grow and succeed. It is a road map to our next steps, which will lead to what is meant for us. May this strategy be used and built upon for future opportunities for all.

Chief Terry Paul. Membertou Chief & CEO

Ex-Officio Member of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board

The National Indigenous Economic Strategy is built upon four Strategic Pathways (People, Land, Infrastructure and Finance), and includes specific “Calls to Economic Prosperity” that can be supported by all Canadians, governments, businesses, and institutions to realize economic parity for all Indigenous peoples.

The Strategy will also provide Indigenous economic development practitioners and policy makers with a coherent vision designed to guide efforts in the coming decade.

The National Indigenous Economic Strategy is about people, land, infrastructure, and finance. My people came from the land. My dad was a prime example of grassroots economic development, as he was a guide that led a dog team travelling across the land with doctors and missionaries to take care of the people of this great land. Our small business in Labrador fabricates storage containment tanks for communities all across Labrador to provide diesel generation power to their people, which had a direct impact on infrastructure. Finances were always hard to come by at that time, but we did it, but not without a fight. You practically had to sign your life and the lives of your grandchildren away to access capital, or at least it felt like it. Being an independent Indigenous woman in a nontraditional trade was certainly an impediment, not an advantage. Watching the growth of our revenues over the past four years from $4 million to $25 million is a testament to what small Indigenous businesses are capable of accomplishing.

I am extremely impressed that this National Indigenous Economic Strategy has come to fruition. The time is indeed NOW to implement these much-needed changes. I offer my sincere congratulations to the entire group on this amazing achievement.

Hilda Broomfield-Letemplier, President, Pressure Pipe Procurement & Management Services

Member of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board

The National Board is hopeful the “Calls to Economic Prosperity” in this strategy will be adopted by all levels of government in Canada along with corporate Canada, all economic institutions, and the Canadian public to serve as a guide and best practice globally for supporting Indigenous economic inclusion.

Read the full strategy here

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board Celebrates 30 Years

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board is celebrating more than 30 years of service since its establishment in 1990 via the release of a retrospective video.

Over the past 30 years and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the NIEDB has committed to its vision of developing policies to sustain a prosperous Indigenous economy throughout the country and beyond.

In addition to advising the federal government, the National Board has released a variety of research and policy analysis papers on Indigenous economic development, and has hosted forums and roundtables to continue the conversation.

“The strength of the Board are that we are all Indigenous leaders. All of us are Indigenous. Whether it’s First Nations, Métis, or Inuit, we bring our backgrounds and our grassroots problems and issues and concerns to the Board. We all speak from our own personal experience. We all have great ideas of what’s important for us moving forward to make good policy recommendations to the government because we’ve lived it firsthand.”

Hilda Broomfield Letemplier, Member of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board

There is still much work to do, and the post-pandemic era presents many difficulties, particularly for Indigenous communities and businesses, but it also represents a prime opportunity for Indigenous peoples, communities, and businesses to take their rightful place within Canada’s economic future. When Indigenous communities prosper, so do the regions around them.

Produced by Matt LeMay (formerly Filmmaker-in-Residence with Canadian Geographic), this video provides an overview of the work of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board and a glimpse at the dynamic personalities who make up its membership. Matt LeMay is an award-winning Métis filmmaker from Pembroke, Ontario (

30 years ago, a First Nations person couldn’t even go in and get a loan. You had to have a band guarantee. We wanted, as communities, some capacity and some control. Access to capital was one of the major things and also more control in the decision making. The Board, I think its greatest strength is the makeup of the number of the participants because we get a perspective from across Canada. We understand that we’re all different.

Ruth Williams, Member of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Full Press Release

Long Version of Video

Economic Reconciliation and the Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Historically, the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) has concerned itself primarily with rights-based issues, as Indigenous Peoples around the world struggled for their recognition as peoples, often within settler states with a history of displacement.This year’s theme, “Indigenous peoples, business, autonomy, and the human rights principles of due diligence including free, prior and informed consent,” represents an opportunity to amplify the economic rights, interests, and accomplishments of Indigenous peoples and communities.

On June 21, 2021, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDA) received Royal Assent in Canada. This legislation contains three legal obligations, all to be carried out in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples:

  • Take “all measures necessary” to ensure consistency of federal laws
  • Develop an action plan within two years of Royal Assent
  • Submit annual reports to Parliament on progress

This side event provides an opportunity to share views on the implementation of the UN Declaration in various states, its links to the economic development of Indigenous peoples, and how the Declaration can be leveraged as a tool for the full realization of the economic potential of Indigenous Peoples. It includes presentations from prominent Indigenous leaders as well as a moderated discussion on how the United Nations system and other States could utilize these findings.

In June 2020, the Government of Canada committed to increasing the participation of Indigenous businesses in federal procurement by creating a new target to have 5% of federal contracts awarded to businesses managed and led by Indigenous peoples.

In response to this initiative, the Board is currently putting the finishing touches on a business plan for an Indigenous Procurement Institute. We hope this will be well received, as the proposed Institute is the single most important investment that could be undertaken in the short term to achieve economic reconciliation.

Modeled after Supply Nation Australia, this Institute would be tasked with the creation of a functional and comprehensive database of verified and certified Indigenous businesses, and would help build Indigenous economic capacity, share leading practices, and deliver programs and services.

Dawn Madahbee Leach, Chairperson of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board


  • Dawn Madahbee Leach, Chairperson, National Indigenous Economic Development Board, Canada
  • Joe Morrison, CEO, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC), Australia
  • Lars-Anders Baer, Senior Adviser, External Affairs for the Sami Parliament, Finland and former President of the Sami Parliament, Sweden
  • Harold Calla, Executive Chair, First Nations Financial Management Board
  • Kevin Brahim, Group Manager, National Indigenous Australians Agency


  • The Hon. Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Canada


  • Winona Embuldeniya, A/Director General, Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation, Nòkwewashk, Natural Resources Canada
  • Jose Enrique Garcilazo, Head of the Regional and Rural Policy Unit, Centre for Entrepreneurship SME’s, Regions and Cities, OECD

Full Press Release