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Feds roll out $13 million to fund First Nation initiatives

FedNor money slotted for community planning, capacity building, economic development, technology, construction
Seven Gens Fort Frances campus
Seven Generations Educational Institute, Fort Frances campus (Nelson Architecture photo)

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples seemed like an opportune time for Ottawa and FedNor announce more than $13 million for First Nation projects and businesses across the North.

Sault Ste. Marie MPP Terry Sheehan, the parliamentary secretary to Mélanie Joly, the minister for FedNor, delivered the news on Aug. 9.

The biggest recipient is the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF) which is earmarking more than $4.9 million in federal funds to carry out a comprehensive community planning process for 20 communities to develop the expertise and planning support to benefit from resource developments like the Ring of Fire.

NADF also banked an additional $320,000 in operational money to run a year's worth of business counselling and other program offerings.

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"Indigenous small and medium-sized businesses exemplify the ingenuity and drive that is at the core of the region’s entrepreneurial spirit," said Sheehan in a statement.

“The investment announced today will build on NADF’s extensive track record of community planning and business success to create jobs and long-term sustainable growth for our people today and the generations to come," added Nishnawbe chair Arlene Meekis.

Waubetek Business Development Corporation, headquartered near Manitoulin Island, received $1,500,000 in five-year operational funding to support its community planning, business counselling and financial programming.

Matachewan First Nation Limited Partnership, near Kirkland Lake, is using $1,325,000 for training opportunities and to purchase five surface drills to expand its operations.

Northwest of Savant Lake, Ojibway Nation of Saugeen landed $1,000,000 for its central multiplex to house the nortwestern Ontario community's cultural events, to use as training space, and for essential services and economic development.

Fort Frances and Kenora's Seven Generations Education Institute has $1 million in hand to install equipment for the technology centre, in the makerspace, in the trades lab, and for virtual classroom purposes at the main campus and at its satellite campuses.

Webequie First Nation is using $546,000 to help build a readiness and wellness centre in the James Bay lowlands community.

Thunder Bay-headquartered Nokiiwin Tribal Council is helping communities within the Robinson-Superior Treaty territory develop a comprehensive community planning process with the help of $497,550.

The Corporation of the Town of Moosonee on the James Bay coast has earmarked $300,000 for an economic development officer's position over a three-year period with a focus on identifying opportunities related to the construction of the new hospital.

Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation, near Upsala in northwestern Ontario, is hiring an economic development officer with the $297,000 received to develop an opportunity and asset map, identifying potential mining, forestry, energy, and infrastructure projects.

A regional economic development officer is being hired by Chapleau's Wahkohtowin Development GP with the $270,000 received to implement strategic planning priorities over the next three years for three Indigenous groups in the Superior East region.

Waabnoong Bemjiwang Association of First Nations, a Pickerel River-based tribal council in the northeast, is using $250,000 to develop asset mapping and other GPS technologies for its six member communities.

The $214,000 received by Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, near Dryden, is for a feasibility study to convert band-owned buildings, operations and businesses over to biomass heating. 

Mushkegowuk Council, representing Cree First Nations in northeastern Ontario and on the James Bay coast, will use $125,000 to build management capacity and increase business sustainability for a First Nations-owned business.

Pic Mobert First Nation has devoted $90,000 toward engineering and planning for commercial and industrial development in the community northwest of White River.

Expansion is on the minds of Manitoulin Island's Weengushk Film Institute with $84,000 going into business planning and preliminary design on enlarging its Turtle Island facility for training opportunities and to grow the region's film industry.

The Far North community of Wunnumin Lake First Nation is using $83,644 to complete a feasibility study related to food and economic security.

Shwe Miikaan Corp, a First Nation-owned construction company at Britt, has $75,000 to hire a training coordinator to help and capitalize on construction opportunities.

Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (Sand Point First Nation) on the shores of Lake Nipigon is using $58,808 to finish Class 20 and Class 10 engineering plans for a wood pellet production facility.

Rainy River First Nations is using $45,900 for a feasibility study to examine land use and economic opportunities at the highway junction.

Nibinamik First Nation is developing a comprehensive community economic development strategy with the $44,325 deposited to the Far North remote community.

Red Rock First Nation, northeast of Thunder Bay, is drawing up a five-year community economic development and strategic plan with $26,241.