Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, held a virtual roundtable with Indigenous business leaders from across Canada.
The Deputy Prime Minister began the meeting by acknowledging the tragic uncovering of unmarked graves at former residential schools in Canada. These discoveries serve as a stark reminder of the systemic oppression, inequalities, and discrimination that Indigenous peoples have endured in the past and the injustices and challenges they continue to face today.
During the roundtable, the Deputy Minister highlighted the recent budget’s historic investment of over $18 billion, over the next five years, to support Indigenous communities, close gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and advance meaningful reconciliation. Budget measures include significant investments to strengthen Indigenous economies, support Indigenous businesses through the pandemic, and help Indigenous entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. The Deputy Prime Minister spoke of how Indigenous-led businesses are important creators of good jobs, especially in Indigenous communities, and often re-invest their profits back into their communities, further strengthening them
The Deputy Prime Minister also discussed the budget’s proposal to invest $6 billion, over five years, with $388.9 million ongoing, to close infrastructure gaps in Indigenous communities, creating good jobs and building healthier, safer, and more prosperous Indigenous communities in the long-term.
The Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the [recent launch] of the Indigenous Growth Fund. This $150-million fund is a collaboration between the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation and will provide a long-term source of capital to support the continued success of Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs.
Participants shared the experiences of their communities and organizations, including with the government’s COVID support programs, such as the Indigenous Community Business Fund, the Indigenous businesses initiative and the Indigenous Community Support Fund as well as other broader emergency supports programs, such as the wage subsidy and rent subsidy.
The Deputy Prime Minister closed the meeting by acknowledging the work that remains to be done on our collective journey of reconciliation. The government will continue to work with Indigenous partners, provinces, and territories to respond to the priorities of Indigenous peoples and ensure our recovery from the pandemic recession brings all communities along.