New Project Supports Indigenous Career Development in Unama’ki (Cape Breton)

News release

Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office to help grow Indigenous companies, encourage entrepreneurship through skills development

July 27, 2019 – Membertou, NS – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Supporting the growth of Indigenous-owned businesses, youth and future entrepreneurs helps create jobs and improves the quality of life for people in Atlantic Canada’s Indigenous communities. To this end, the Government of Canada is supporting the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office (MEBO) to deliver workshops and training to youth and Indigenous businesses over the next three years to increase employment and economic opportunities for Cape Breton First Nation communities.

The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office is implementing a variety of new strategies to address labour gaps, connecting its members with employment opportunities and providing educational training with fluent Mi’kmaq speakers and culturally inclusive mentorship. MEBO will work with Indigenous businesses and other firms to find opportunities for collaboration and growth. New programming will also prepare and educate community youth to pursue careers in high-demand STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and connect post-secondary graduates to job opportunities.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced support for this project on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). The Honourable Mark Eyking, Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, also participated in the announcement.

The Government of Canada, through ACOA, is working in close collaboration with pan-Atlantic Indigenous and community-level organizations to grow the Atlantic economy by supporting the growth of Indigenous-owned businesses. It is helping small and medium-sized businesses to start-up, expand or modernize and supporting not-for-profit industry organizations to fuel business growth. Support for this project is one way the Government of Canada is working to achieve its Atlantic Growth Strategy outcome of long-term economic prosperity in the region. 

Quotes

“Helping Indigenous communities to maximize their assets, capitalize on economic opportunities, and create jobs, contributes to the prosperity of Indigenous Peoples across all of Atlantic Canada. The Government of Canada is pleased to support the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office as it devises and executes new strategies to connect post-secondary graduates to the labour market and inspire Indigenous youth to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).”

-        The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA

“Indigenous businesses are a large part of the Cape Breton economy, adding to our cultural tourism, boat-building, and commercial fishing sectors, among others. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of having a diversified economy and investing in projects, such as the one being announced today, that will help build on community strengths and support new Indigenous business opportunities.”

-        The Honourable Mark Eyking, Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria

“We are working together to make a change, to address unemployment, to create JOBS! Policies and attitudes are changing, and our people are now, increasingly, part of the new economy in Cape Breton. It is about seeing the value in having a diverse workforce, in engaging Indigenous people and Indigenous businesses. It is about capacity building! It is about providing HOPE! With partners like ACOA we are able to grow our First Nations economy and increase employment.”

-         Alex Paul, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office

Quick facts

  • The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office serves all five First Nation communities in Unama’ki (Cape Breton). It works closely with other indigenous organizations in Atlantic Canada and takes a collaborative approach to employment and business opportunities with industry, government and local educational institutions. 

  • The Government of Canada is providing the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office with a non-repayable contribution of $999,114 over three years through ACOA’s Business Development Program (BDP).

  • IBM Canada will lend its support to the project by delivering technology camps under its IBM Stem 4 Girls and Youth and Learning 4 All programs to prepare students for academic achievement and future careers.

  • MEBO works within the community to identify stakeholders, both employers and employees, to participate in the provincially funded START and Graduate to Opportunity programs, facilitating their connection to the Cape Breton labour market. 

  • Atlantic Canada has an Indigenous population of more than 125,000 people, with 51,495 of those located in Nova Scotia.  

  • In 2016, 850 Indigenous businesses in Atlantic Canada generated revenues of $1.6 billion, a 137% increase over 2012. Indigenous firms are growing rapidly, creating jobs and income for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers.

  • The BDP primarily assists Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs who want to start a business, increase productivity or improve operations. Investments under the BDP address any gap that may arise if an application does not fit within ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program.

  • The Business Development Program continues to build on the objectives of the Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Contacts

Lori Selig
Acting Director
Communications and Outreach
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
902-266-7477 (cell)
lori.selig@canada.ca

Alex Paul
Executive Director
Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office
902-565-6897 (cell)
alexpaul@mebons.ca


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