Thank you. It's good to be here.
I'm speaking to you from my constituency office in Saint Boniface—Saint Vital in Winnipeg, homeland of the Métis Nation on Treaty 1 territory.
Thank you for inviting me to appear today to discuss indigenous economic development.
I'm joined by Paula Isaak, president of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency; Serge Beaudoin, assistant deputy minister of Northern Affairs; and Mohan Denetto, executive advisor for Prairies Economic Development Canada.
As Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, I had the opportunity to listen to indigenous partners tell me about the barriers that they face in terms of economic development.
Access to skills development and educational opportunities is often limited by infrastructure, connectivity, housing, and so on. Our government continues to make progress in eliminating many of these barriers. I'd like to provide a few examples.
Access to high-quality education for young people is critical not only to individual success, but to local economies and Canada as a whole. This is an issue that's personal to me from my days as a Winnipeg city councillor where I led the development of the aboriginal youth strategy, which was the first of its kind in Canada, and as a social worker and youth worker with the Mamaweyatitan Centre in downtown Winnipeg.
We're making new investments in education in the north. We've provided funding to construct a new science building at the Yukon University and to transform Aurora College into a polytech university as a well as investing $13 million for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. I have also announced a task force on post-secondary education, which will provide recommendations on ways to close the gaps in education and skills development that exists between the north and the south.
CanNor has been particularly important across the territories for indigenous businesses. Over the last three years, CanNor has provided over 60% of its funding to indigenous recipients. In Nunavut, CanNor has invested in small-scale fisheries development projects, working in partnership with the hunters and trappers associations. The project supports exploratory inshore fisheries research to develop community-owned commercial fisheries in three hamlets.
In the Northwest Territories, we have invested in the Cheetah Resources Nechalacho rare earth demonstration project, which supports sustainable resource development in collaboration with the Det’on Cho corporation, which is the economic arm of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
In Yukon, we're supporting a local indigenous-owned company, Grandma Treesaw's Bannock and catering services, in a one-year project to export dry bannock mix to the United States.
Our government is working with partners to manage and remediate northern contaminated sites that will promote employment, training and business opportunities for indigenous nations and northerners.
Indigenous businesses in the prairies face unique challenges. We are delivering investment programs to foster economic growth and prosperity. The indigenous business development services, IBDS, provides early-stage support for new and existing indigenous entrepreneurs and business organizations.
The Arctic Gateway Group in Manitoba is helping maintain operations of the Hudson Bay Railway located in Churchill, Manitoba. Approximately 70% of their employees are indigenous.
Recognizing that there is much to be done, we know that economic diversification and innovation are key elements to resilience and reconciliation. To achieve this, indigenous partners have to be at the table. This is why we have launched the Arctic and northern policy framework. Together, we're developing long-term opportunities to protect the north's rich natural environment, build healthier communities, respect the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and support a diversified, sustainable and dynamic economy for the north and the Arctic.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee.
I'll be happy to answer your questions.
Qujannamiik. Merci beaucoup. Thank you.