Feds announce $1.3M to support economic development in N.W.T.

·3 min read

Three N.W.T. projects are getting a financial boost from the federal government, in a move aimed at fostering employment and economic growth in northern and Indigenous communities.

Michael McLeod, Liberal MP for the Northwest Territories, announced the $1.3-million investment on Friday, on behalf of Mélanie Joly, the minister of economic development and official languages, who is responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor).

The money, which is being invested by CanNor, is meant to support "training, entrepreneurship, capacity building and infrastructure development" in the N.W.T., according to a news release from the agency. CanNor's mandate is to support economic development in the North.

Of the $1.3 million in funding, $731,727 will go toward a three-year project at Makerspace YK, a non-profit organization and community hub in Yellowknife that fosters hands-on learning and skills-building.

"The funding will assist with the renovation of a commercial space into a collaborative space, which will support skills development, job creation and innovative new businesses in Yellowknife," the news release states. "The Makerspace will also provide access to industrial equipment and a tool lending library."

The funding is expected to help create two full-time jobs, and support the local manufacturing sector.

Cat McGurk, Makerspace YK president, said the organization is excited to work with territorial and federal partners to help drive economic diversification.

"Thanks to CanNor we'll be able to create a space where we can host workshops and work on projects, and foster a collaborative environment for the next generation of Yellowknife entrepreneurs," McGurk said in a statement.

Funding for equipment in Fort Liard

Another $175,000 has been set aside to support economic development in the traditional territory of Acho Dene Koe First Nation. The money will go to Beaver Enterprises LP, a company in Fort Liard, N.W.T., that offers construction, excavation and maintenance services.

The funding supports a one-year project, and will help the company purchase a grader for construction and maintenance work, according to the news release.

"This project is expected to result in 10 full-time jobs being maintained and additional employees being hired on a seasonal basis," the news release adds.

Katie Toth/CBC
Katie Toth/CBC

CanNor is also putting $464,000 toward "business and financial planning for the future construction and operation of an integrated waste management facility" in Norman Wells, N.W.T.

The new facility is expected to boost Indigenous employment and training, and support entrepreneurship.

CanNor says jobs will be created in Norman Wells and other communities as a result of the project.

"Once the project is complete, the waste management facility is expected to have a significant economic impact for the Sahtu and beneficiaries of the Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement," the press release states.

The federal government said Friday's investment is also aimed at helping northern businesses overcome the financial challenges posed by COVID-19.

"We have provided support so businesses can develop the skills they need, build the infrastructure to expand, and acquire the equipment they need to get to work," McLeod said in a statement.

"This investment ... will help create good local jobs in Northern and Indigenous communities."