Ensuring that Indigenous People have access to quality job opportunities that align with their unique cultural identity is integral within on-going efforts to support inclusive growth in Canada. This report is part of overall work being conducted on Indigenous People within the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions, and Cities, considering how to best design local employment and skills strategies, as well as how to better link Indigenous communities to regional development efforts. This report builds on previous work conducted in Canada as part of the OECD Reviews on Local Job Creation of the LEED Programme, which looked at Indigenous employment and skills policies in the Yukon and Saskatchewan in 2016.

Over the past few years in Canada, the federal government’s has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to renew its relationship with Indigenous People based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. At the federal level, the majority of active labour market and skills programmes are managed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). ESDC has a suite of programmes which are delivered at the local level through the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ISETS) and Skills and Partnerships Fund (SPF). The federal government has conducted extensive engagement with Indigenous leaders, service delivery organisations, academic institutions and provincial and territorial governments to consider the best way forward to renew its active labour market programmes to ensure they are responsive to the needs of Indigenous People.

This report uses methodological triangulation to consider quantitative and qualitative data regarding employment, skills, and entrepreneurship opportunities for Indigenous People in Canada. It also takes a case study approach to better understand policies and programmes, which have demonstrated success in matching Indigenous People to jobs, while also building their skills and attracting new economic development opportunities.

Results from this study were discussed at the Community Economic Development (CED) annual event in September 2017, ECONOUS 2017, bringing together 380 delegates and community leaders across Canada. During this event, the OECD organised a workshop, which brought together Indigenous leaders, service delivery organisations, as well as federal and provincial government officials to discuss the key challenges facing Indigenous People and innovative programmes, which are achieving better outcomes.

In-depth interviews and analysis were undertaken across four case studies, which are implementing organisations of the ISETS: 1) Centre for Aboriginal Human Resources and Development (CAHRD): 2) Community Futures Treaty Seven; 3) MAWIW Council; and 4) Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS). In Canada, the realities of Indigenous People have to be examined along four distinct groupings including First Nations on-reserve, First Nations off-reserve, Inuit, and Metis. These case studies are primarily focused on First Nations off-reserve to provide valuable insights that can inform policy making on Indigenous programmes within urban areas in Canada. The results show the importance of fostering Indigenous leadership and providing Indigenous People with high quality job opportunities. It should be acknowledged that there are some limitations to the lessons that can be drawn given the unique diversity of Indigenous communities across Canada.