August 9, 2020
FedNor announces $13M for Indigenous-led initiatives across the North
Author: Ben Leeson
Terry Sheehan says $13 million in FedNor funding for economic development for Indigenous communities, businesses and organizations in Northern Ontario will help kick-start the economy right across the region, while advancing the cause of reconciliation.
Sheehan, the Liberal MP for Sault Ste. Marie and parliamentary secretary to Melanie Joly, the minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor, announced funding for 22 Indigenous-led initiatives in the region on Sunday.
Among the recipients are the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund, which will receive roughly $4.9 million to provide technical and capacity development, and planning support for up to 20 First Nations communities within its area to undertake a Comprehensive Community Planning process, helping them realize the full economic benefits from resource development opportunities such as the Ring of Fire.
Waubetek Business Development Corporation will get $1.5 million in five-year operational funding to support strategic community planning, business counselling and information services, as well as access to capital, community-based projects and special initiatives.
Sheehan’s announcement coincided with the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, observed on Aug. 9 of each year.
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“This is very important to me,” Sheehan told The Sudbury Star. “Our government made a commitment to work towards truth and reconciliation, and part of that is working in partnership, going on a journey together, and economic development is absolutely critical. We have 22 projects, a value of $13 million across Northern Ontario, and it’s about economic development, but there’s some training and education, some money for community centres — these are all really critical.
“I had the honour of listening to Senator Murray Sinclair, then Chief Justice Sinclair, at Algoma University, when he was going around and chatting and consulting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A lot of these announcements touch on those points.”
Initiatives supported by FedNor include projects in the ridings of Algoma–Manitoulin–Kapuskasing, Kenora, Parry Sound–Muskoka, Thunder Bay–Rainy River, Thunder Bay–Superior North and Timmins–James Bay.
“The way FedNor funds things is sort of from the proverbial grassroots and these are Indigenous projects, developed by Indigenous peoples,” Sheehan said. “What we did is just go into partnership with these fabulous ideas and what we have done is we have given them some funding to help them bring their ideas, which are developed in various regions across Northern Ontario, whether it’s Kenora, Thunder Bay, Algoma-Manitoulin or Timmins.”
The funding is expected to help Mobert First Nation and Red Rock First Nation to develop economic plans, Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation and Wahkohtowin Development GP Inc. to hire economic development staff, and the Waabnoong Bemjiwang Association of First Nations to conduct asset mapping.
It will also support new community centres and complexes for the Webequie First Nation and Ojibway Nation of Saugeen and educational initiatives such as new equipment for the Seven Generations Education Institute or a training co-ordinator for the Shwe Miikaan Corporation.
“You think about Waubetek, which is receiving $1.5 million over there on Birch Island, and it didn’t escape me that in 2020, they won a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce award for excellence,” Sheehan said. “I think the proposals we received are excellent and they’re developed by Indigenous people, for Indigenous development.
“I have been in business and in economic development in Northern Ontario all my life and we have had fantastic businesses developed over time. Recently, you have seen a growth in the Indigenous population, which means it’s a very young population in Northern Ontario and that’s not necessarily a trend across other populations. What this is really going to do is help entrepreneurship, help young peo