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Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, to help us celebrate, our member, Eagle Feather News, has shared with us their insight on the important role Indigenous businesses play in our economy.

“There has never been a better time to be an Indigenous entrepreneur in Canada and here are a few reasons why:

Canada’s mainstream market is huge. Duty to Consult legislation has brought Indigenous people into the economy. It is rare to find a resource company that does not consider Indigenous employment and subcontracting an essential part of their business, but whether you are a resource company or not, the options are endless for indigenous businesses. From communications firms to hair salons, from courier companies to cultural tourism, Indigenous-owned businesses and partnerships are being fostered throughout Canada as we speak.

The Indigenous market is just as large and competitive as the mainstream market. Indigenous communities are the youngest and fastest emerging employee and consumer markets in Canada. For context, in 1960 there were 60 First Nations people in university in Canada, but today, there are 35,000. As that number grows, so does the percentage of Indigenous consumers in our economy. The Indigenous consumer is extremely faithful and loves to support Indigenous-owned local businesses. There are countless businesses possibilities on reserve, an urban reserve or in a city that Indigenous entrepreneurs could be taking advantage of through this consumer-base.

It’s about time. The original relationship between Indigenous people and the settlers was based on mutually beneficial trade. We know that relationship became unequal and the Indigenous community has suffered. However, Canadians have never been more aware as they are now of the impacts of history on Indigenous people in Canada. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) honoured survivors and allowed the Indigenous community a chance to start healing. The TRC report and their calls to action have educated Canadians about the past and given them a way forward, which many have embraced. This is the change generation of Canada.

All that being said, now is the chance for Indigenous entrepreneurs to change their lives and their country by starting new businesses.”

Click here to learn more about the reconciliation process between businesses and Indigenous peoples in our recent report, Lessons in Reconciliation: What we Heard in Saskatoon, which is the first in a three-part series.

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