The health, safety and well-being of all people in Canada, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis is and will remain a top priority for the Government of Canada. Indigenous Services Canada continues to support First Nations while they work tirelessly to not only keep their communities safe, but to mitigate the financial distress this pandemic has caused Indigenous businesses.
The Indigenous Community Business Fund (ICBF) has provided key support for Indigenous businesses across the country. Indigenous Services Canada Alberta Region has provided $16.5 million to support Indigenous community-or collectively-owned businesses and microbusinesses whose revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding has been distributed to businesses in all 46 Alberta First Nations.
The ICBF supports the operation, adaptation, planning and reopening of First Nations, Inuit and Métis businesses. By relieving financial pressure, the ICBF helps communities keep members employed and businesses open. In Alberta, it has supported retail businesses, casinos, and tourist operations to name a few – all of which are major economic drivers for First Nations communities.
Through the ICBF, $4.4 million will support businesses owned by Enoch Cree Nation, River Cree Convenience Inc., River Cree Tobacco Shop Inc., and the Enoch River Cree Resort, as well as employment in the community.
In addition to the ICBF, Indigenous Services Canada has also committed up to $306.8 million in relief measures for small-and medium-sized Indigenous businesses across Canada in the form of interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions. It has also provided $16 million to support Indigenous tourism through the pandemic into recovery through the COVID-19 Indigenous Tourism Stimulus Development Fund.
“As we continue to follow public health measures and work to distribute vaccines, I am heartened to see that key COVID-19 business relief measures such as the ICBF are providing support so that vital community businesses can continue to operate. I commend the Indigenous leaders in Alberta and across the country who have worked without cease to keep their communities safe and ready to open for business again, as guidelines permit.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
“Enoch Cree Nation is the largest indigenous employer in the Alberta capital region; our businesses rely upon over 300 Indigenous employees from communities outside Enoch. Pandemic closures have resulted in over 600 job losses for our Nation’s hospitality and entertainment sectors alone. For those employees and their families who lost their jobs, the Government of Canada’s ICBF contribution is significant to providing hope, certainty and safety in the eventual re-opening of our business operations”.
Chief William (Billy) Morin
Enoch Cree Nation
As of December 18, over $4.2 billion has been announced in specific COVID-19 support to Indigenous and northern communities and organizations.
In June 2020, the Government of Canada announced $117 million for the ICBF to support Indigenous businesses that do not qualify for other Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures.
Through two streams of funding, the ICBF has distributed non-repayable financial contributions to Indigenous businesses. Stream 1 funding was transferred directly to communities and collectives to immediately support their COVID-19 economic priorities. Stream 2 funding is proposal based and an application is required.