Posted on Dec 3, 2015

Questions to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General regarding Aboriginal Peoples' Economic Development

Aboriginal Peoples’ Economic Development

Ms Babcock: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In my constituency many are struggling in these tough economic times. In particular, indigenous communities are feeling the effects of the slowdown surrounding their communities. To the Minister of Aboriginal Relations: what are you doing to help indigenous people, who often live in rural, remote areas of Alberta, take part in the resource sector and participate in our economy?

The Speaker: The Minister of Justice.

Ms Ganley: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and to the member for the question. Well, in my conversations with First Nations we have heard some real concerns from them and some genuine pleas from their leadership on behalf of their people that they be included and involved, going forward, in Alberta’s economy and that they, too, share in the wealth that this province has to give. So we are moving forward with our consultation on the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. We intend to use a whole government approach to this issue, so we have a number of funding mechanisms available for jobs on that front.

Thank you.

The Speaker: First supplemental.

Ms Babcock: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that in Edmonton and Calgary there are great opportunities for entrepreneurs to access capital and to start up or expand a business and given that it’s not the case in many First Nations communities, to the Minister of Aboriginal Relations again: what are you doing to support the many entrepreneurs in indigenous communities of Alberta?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Ms Ganley: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and, again, to the member for the absolutely critical question. One of the policies that my department has is the aboriginal business investment fund. This fund is designed to increase the number of indigenous-owned businesses, increase the number of employment opportunities, and create local revenue streams. We also just recently announced a partnership with the Siksika Nation and the Indian Business Corporation to provide access to capital, which is sometimes difficult to access on reserves. 

Thank you.

Ms Babcock: Mr. Speaker, these programs sound like a good idea, but my constituents need help now. Can the Minister of Aboriginal Relations please tell us when this money will start flowing?

Ms Ganley: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and to the member for the incredibly timely question. The application submission period for the aboriginal business investment fund goes on until January 1 for this current funding year. The evaluation process will be completed in mid-January, and decisions will be announced for applicants during the week of January 15. We are absolutely committed to working with indigenous groups in this way, and we hope that they will bring forward applications in this process. 

Thank you very much.


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