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Indigenous-owned businesses in Canada: confronting challenges, forecasting growth

Source: Statistics Canada

Summary: The 2021 Census of Population counted 1.8 million Indigenous people, accounting for 5.0% of the population in Canada. The Indigenous population is 8.2 years younger on average than the non-Indigenous population, and nearly two-thirds (65.1%) were working-age (15 to 64 years). Moreover, just over 1 in 6 (17.2%) working-age Indigenous people were considered close to retirement (55 to 64 years), compared with 22.0% of the non-Indigenous population. Analysis conducted by Statistics Canada and Indigenous Services Canada indicates that in 2020, gross domestic product attributable to Indigenous people was $48.9 billion, up from $41.7 billion in 2012. More recently, the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions asked businesses about plans, challenges and expectations for the fourth quarter (October to December) of 2022—including data about Indigenous majority ownership.

There were 17,417 private businesses with majority ownership by First Nations people, Métis or Inuit in the fourth quarter, representing 1.7% of the 1,011,474 private-sector businesses operating in Canada. This represents a slight decline from the first quarter (January to March) of 2022, when the 23,530 Indigenous majority-owned businesses made up 2.3% of all private-sector businesses.

Indigenous Women in STEM

Source: Canadian Geographic

Summary: The most prosperous societies, whether in terms of economy or intellectual wealth, are those that consider and encourage the perspectives and contributions of different people. When people with different viewpoints and backgrounds come together to share and debate ideas, they move society forward.

In countries where women have the opportunity to participate in the workforce, have their voices heard, and take leadership positions in their communities, everyone benefits. Gender equality promotes economic development and makes our society more inclusive. However, that is not the only difference that should be taken into account and celebrated. People of different cultural backgrounds have ways of knowing and being that offer unique ideas. The inclusion of all these diverse perspectives can help us to find better solutions and approaches to all kinds of problems in our world, such as climate change and pollution.

Building Capacity in Indigenous Early Childhood Education

Source: Future Skills Centre

Summary: This project aims to find creative, innovative solutions to address the shortage of trained Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework (IELCE) individuals for Micmac communities in northern New Brunswick. The impact of this project will guide the work of the North Shore Micmac District Council (NSMDC) in early learning and childcare for the foreseeable future.

The Slaughter of the Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains

Source: Authors: D.L Feir, Maggie E.C Jones, Rob Gillezeau, University of Victoria

Summary: In the late 19th century, the North American bison was brought to the brink of extinction in just over a decade. We show that the bison’s slaughter led to a reversal of fortunes for the Native Americans who relied on them. Once the tallest people in the world, the generations of bison-reliant people born after the slaughter were among the shortest. Today, formerly bison-reliant societies have between 20-40% less income per capita than the average Native American nation. We argue that federal Indian policy that limited out-migration from reservations and restricted employment opportunities to crop based agriculture hampered the ability of bison-reliant societies to adjust in the long-run, generating lasting regional disparities associated with other indicators of social dislocation, such as suicide and unrest.

International Decade of Indigenous Languages

Source: Government of Canada

Summary: The United Nations declared 2022-2032 the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.

A key outcome of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Decade aims to draw global attention to the critical situation of many Indigenous languages and to mobilize relevant stakeholders for the preservation, revitalization, and promotion of these languages. The Decade also focuses on mainstreaming, and taking pride in, linguistic diversity and multilingualism, while ensuring that the rights of Indigenous peoples to preserve and promote their languages are respected.

Throughout the Decade, Canada will recognize, raise awareness of, and celebrate the richness and diversity of Indigenous languages.

Indigenous population continues to grow and is much younger than the non-Indigenous population, although the pace of growth has slowed

Source: Statistics Canada

Summary: Indigenous Peoples, their communities, cultures and languages have existed since time immemorial in the land now known as Canada. The term “Indigenous Peoples” refers to three groups —First Nations People, Métis, and Inuit — who are recognized in the Constitution Act. However, while these groups are representative of the Indigenous population as a whole, each is tremendously diverse. This diversity is reflected in over 70 Indigenous languages that were reported during the 2021 Census, over 600 First Nations who represent their People across the country, the plurality of groups representing Métis nationhood, and the four regions and 50 communities of Inuit Nunangat that Inuit call home.

Much of Canada’s cultural, economic and political landscape has been shaped by the achievements of Indigenous people. Generations of Indigenous people, including leaders, Elders, healers, educators, business leaders, artists, and activists, have made invaluable contributions, touching all aspects of life in Canada.

The Intergenerational Legacy of Indian Residential Schools

Source: Maggie E.C. Jones, University of Victoria

Focus: Researchers

Summary: From the late nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century, colonial governments in the United States, Canada, Greenland, Australia, and New Zealand, operated, in collaboration with Christian churches, a network of boarding schools for Indigenous children. The purpose of this system was to culturally and economically assimilate; Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed into residential schools where they were to be converted into the Eurocentric culture of the dominant society.

Using a unique restricted-access database from Canada that asked Indigenous respondents about their family history with residential schools, in addition to questions on a variety of socioeconomic outcomes, I study the intergenerational effects of these schools. Despite previous research showing that residential schools led to increased human capital accumulation among those who attended, I find that residential schools are associated with lower educational attainment among subsequent generations. I present evidence consistent with the notion that both cultural detachment and a breakdown in family relationships contributed to a reversal of the standard relationship between the human capital of parents and children. Encouragingly, I find that cultural interventions may provide a buffer to the harmful legacy of this historical trauma, suggesting an avenue for the direction of future policy.

Finance and Management Skills for Economic Reconciliation

Source: Conference Board of Canada

Summary: A dynamic new generation of Indigenous professionals can take the lead in managing their communities’ unique corporate services. Indigenous skilled labour is critical to realizing a new vision of economic reconciliation where First Nations, Métis. and Inuit communities control their economic futures.

Indigenous finance, management  and other corporate service professionals have important roles to play as their communities navigate evolving economic relationships to create long-term prosperity.

Resources for Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs

Source: Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub

Focus: System administrators

Summary: This analysis considers the current resources that are available to support Indigenous women entrepreneurs across the country, highlighting initiatives that are already trailblazers in this space.

Our analysis reviewed 136 unique programs and/or organizations from the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub’s (WEKH) ecosystem mapping that provide resources to Indigenous entrepreneurs across Canada. We distinguish between six types of supports offered, which we categorize as training, funding (grants), funding (financing), mentorship, networking, and tools/resources.

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