Indigenous Leaders Predict First Nations Emerging as a $100 Billion Economic Force in Canada

Indigenous Leaders Predict First Nations Emerging as a $100 Billion Economic Force in Canada

Toronto, Canada – November 25, 2023

In a groundbreaking event titled “Indigenomics on Bay Street,” organized by Carol Anne Hilton, founder of the Indigenomics Institute, Indigenous leaders, government officials, and corporate representatives convened in Toronto to discuss the strategic advantages of collaborating with Indigenous communities. 

The conference aimed to propel the Indigenous economy in Canada to a remarkable $100 billion annually, marking a significant surge from its current value of nearly $50 billion in 2020.

One of the highlights of the event was the participation of entrepreneurs like Rob Tebb, co-owner of Regina-based Xtended Hydraulics & Machine, which specializes in producing high-tech components for industries such as mining and recently entered the defense sector. Tebb, a Métis, expressed optimism about the potential for substantial growth, envisioning his business expanding four to five times its current size.

The term “Indigenomics,” coined by Carol Anne Hilton, refers to “economics from an Indigenous worldview.” Hilton, a member of Hesquiaht First Nation in British Columbia, created the concept as a constructive and generative approach to foster economic growth in Indigenous communities, aiming for their systemic inclusion in the modern economy.

The ambitious $100 billion goal aligns with Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) and the five percent Indigenous population, reflecting a proportional contribution to the national economy. Hilton sees this target as aspirational, providing a marker to propel Indigenous communities beyond the status quo and rectify historical injustices.

The conference featured panel discussions on opportunities and strategies for economic growth, including clean energy initiatives, major infrastructure projects, capital raising, and procurement policies supporting Indigenous suppliers. Notably, Tabatha Bull, CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), emphasized the importance of procurement policies in achieving the $100 billion target, citing the federal government’s commitment to ensuring a minimum of 5% of total contract value goes to Indigenous businesses.

Bill Lomax, CEO of the First Nations Bank of Canada (FNBC), drew lessons from successful Indigenous communities in the U.S., advocating for expanded federal spending on Indigenous procurement. Lomax also encouraged First Nations in Canada to explore opportunities in the gaming and cannabis industries, mirroring the success observed south of the border.

Indigenous leaders and experts at the conference expressed confidence that the $100 billion goal could be achieved within a few years, signaling a rising economic tide in Indigenous communities that would not only benefit them but contribute to the overall Canadian economy. Entrepreneurs like Rob Tebb see these developments as transformative, providing hope for a future where Indigenous people play a central role in the economic fabric of the country.

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