Ottawa gives $13M to help Indigenous businesses in Atlantic Canada

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Chief Terry Paul gives a gift to Marc Miller at the announcement.  (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
Chief Terry Paul gives a gift to Marc Miller at the announcement. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

The federal government gave $13 million in public funds to Indigenous businesses impacted by the pandemic across Atlantic Canada Monday.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced the money in Membertou, N.S. It comes from Ottawa's Indigenous Community Business Fund, which gives $117 million to Indigenous businesses across Canada that don't qualify for other business supports, but who have lost money due to COVID-19.

"Our goal is to help Indigenous communities withstand the pressure of the pandemic and ensure they are well-positioned for a quick recovery," Miller said at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre in Cape Breton.

Membertou Chief Terry Paul said they used the $1.5 million his community got to keep facilities clean and accessible during the pandemic. The First Nation community also updgraded its technology to let more people work from home.

"The fund gave us an opportunity to pivot when doing so was the only way for us to operate. For that, we are incredibly grateful," Paul said.

$500K to grow Mi'kmaw language

Miller also announced $513,492 to help revive the Mi'kmaw language.

Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, the body governing Mi'kmaw education in Nova Scotia, said it wanted $2.1 million.

Blaire Gould, the executive director of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, said the money will cover the costs of communities and organizations running programs promoting the language. But he said it leaves them with a financial gap.

"It is of course a priority for us to close that gap through not just federal supports, but provincial supports and our supports as well," Gould said.

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