Linking Indigenous Communities with Regional Development in Canada

image of Linking Indigenous Communities with Regional Development in Canada

Canada’s Constitution Act (1982) recognises three Indigenous groups: Indians (now referred to as First Nations), Inuit, and Métis. Indigenous peoples make a vital contribution to the culture, heritage and economic development of Canada. Despite improvements in Indigenous well-being in recent decades, significant gaps remain with the non-Indigenous population. This study focuses on four priority issues to maximise the potential of Indigenous economies in Canada. First, improving the quality of the statistical framework and the inclusion of Indigenous peoples in the governance of data. Second, measures to improve the fairness and transparency for how Indigenous peoples can secure land tenure and the use of tools and such as land use planning to use it to promote community economic development. Third, promoting entrepreneurship so Indigenous peoples can use assets and resources in ways that align with their objectives for development. Fourth, implementing an approach to governance that adapts policies to places, and empowers Indigenous institutions and communities.


Executive summary

Geography is important to understanding Canada’s Indigenous economy and better data is needed to inform policy decision-making. The Indigenous population is distributed unevenly across Canada, ranging from as little as 2% of the population on Prince Edward Island (2 730 persons) to as much as 86% in Nunavut (30 545 persons) in 2016. The Indigenous population is more likely to be located in predominantly rural regions. Approximately 60% of Canada’s Indigenous population live in rural regions, compared to 27% for the non-Indigenous population. Although the well-being of the Indigenous population is improving, significant gaps compared to the non-Indigenous population remain, and these gaps are larger in rural than in urban areas. For example, the gap in the unemployment rate is 10 percentage points in rural remote areas, compared to 5 percentage points in urban areas. Indigenous communities in rural remote areas face a range of challenges associated with educational attainment, housing, water and sanitation, and digital connectivity. Although there have been significant advances in statistical frameworks to measure these issues, there is a need to improve business and economic data, and include Indigenous communities and institutions in decision-making about ongoing data collection efforts.


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