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Indigenous Economic Growth Benefits All

It doesn’t make for juicy front page headlines, but Aboriginal people are quietly engaged in the hard work of growing their local economies. Canadian businesses need to understand this, embrace it and get involved.

In a recent guest column for the Sun papers, academics Ken Coates and Greg Poelzer wrote that “crises are noisy, accomplishments are quiet.” In other words, the bad news gets a lot of media attention, but the success stories go unreported. And the success stories are many.

This past week brought a reminder of those quiet accomplishments. Leaders from business and Aboriginal communities gathered in Toronto to participate in the Natural Resources Forum to discuss economic growth.

Former prime minister Paul Martin, a long-time champion of Aboriginal prosperity, told the crowd that the business community has the ability to be “indigenous Canada’s greatest allies”.

If businesses team up with First Nations communities starting at the ground floor of a project, there are many benefits for both sides.

The Aboriginal population is one of the fastest growing in Canada. A Statistics Canada report from 2011 explains that “The Aboriginal population increased by 232,385 people, or 20.1% between 2006 and 2011, compared with 5.2% for the non-Aboriginal population.”

Clearly, growing populations need to be brought into the economic fold for Canada to remain competitive. No one wins when a segment of society is shut out.

Martin put it bluntly: “If we turn our backs on indigenous Canada, we might as well kiss economic development good-bye.”

It’s important the rest of Canada embrace the contributions Aboriginal have to offer and collaborate with Aboriginal businesses moving forward.

Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said at the forum, that there are around 40,000 Aboriginal businesses in Canada now.

“Every one of these businesses is making a tremendous contribution to Canada’s well-being,” said Fontaine.

Step by step, Aboriginal entrepreneurs and business people are making their communities better and making Canada better. This will continue with or without mainstream Canada’s participation – but it will be better, faster and more beneficial for everyone if we work together.

Make no mistake about it, Aboriginal prosperity is a win-win for everyone.

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a<center>ME News - Connecting You To World News, Jobs And Content From Aroland First Nation Within the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Territory in Treaty 9