Economic reconciliation roundtable draws heavy hitters to Ottawa

The federal government must remove barriers to economic activity and facilitate economic development in Indigenous communities, an ‘economic reconciliation’ roundtable concluded last week in Ottawa.

Additionally, participants added, they also identified the need to develop capacity and Indigenous financial expertise as critical ingredients to achieving economic reconciliation.

They saw “the great value to coming together and will seek future opportunities to convene and continue to work together to remove barriers,” participants said.

The roundtable included such economic heavy hitters as First Nations Financial Management Board Executive Chair Harold Calla; First Nations Finance Authority President and CEO Ernie Daniels; First Nations Major Projects Coalition CEO Niilo Edwards and National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) CEO Shannin Metatawabin.

Political leaders such as Metis National Council president Cassidy Caron, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Gary Anandasangaree and federal Indigenous Relations minister Patty Hajdu were also on hand.

The government said it would, in fact, remove barriers and increase capacity through a number of ways. Those include increasing Indigenous entrepreneurs’ access to capital through the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program, administered by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association and Métis Capital Corporations.

It has already facilitated “billions of dollars worth of loans to Indigenous businesses,” the government said.

Additionally, Hajdu announced, Indigenous Services Canada is providing funding to promote a culture of entrepreneurship, to improve access to business opportunities, and to enhance the capacity of Indigenous businesses.

Much of the discussion focused on taking concrete actions to support Indigenous communities and their economic institutions, the government said.

Roundtable participants agreed that “in order to make meaningful progress on economic reconciliation, there is a need to move beyond government and involve all segments of society,” they said.

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase