FedNor investing over $2.1 million for training, skill development, and innovation in the Thunder Bay area

News release

Investments will help build the available workforce and create new employment opportunities in the region

February 17, 2023 – Thunder Bay, ON – Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario – FedNor

Today, new investments from FedNor totalling $2,123,675 were announced for three training, skill development, and innovation initiatives in the Thunder Bay area. The announcement was made by Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, Minister responsible for FedNor, and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North, and Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.

Matawa Training and Wellness Centre (MTWC) will receive $1 million through the Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF) to support MTWC’s Increase Skills Development Project, which provides integrated apprenticeships, essential skills, trades training, academic credits, job opportunities, and cultural supports for the nine First Nation member communities of Matawa First Nations. Specifically, the funds will enable renovations to the second floor of the MTWC facility in Thunder Bay, including the construction and upgrading of five classrooms, a computer lab, multi-use training rooms, a resource centre, and a client program area, as well as converting the garage on the main floor into an apprenticeship training workshop.

Confederation College will receive $889,975 through the Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF) to support the Evergreen Outdoor Classroom (EOC) project. The EOC will consist of a fully accessible outdoor learning site with an indoor elder’s area, medicine gardens, a permanent tipi location, a pathway to the riverbank, and integrated technology to enable remote learning in First Nations communities. The EOC will enable Confederation College to host seven Indigenous-focused programs, including Embark – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), a new program for Indigenous women and youth.

Lakehead University will receive $233,700 through the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program to support the university in establishing the Centre for Healthy Ecosystems and Environmentally Conscious Economic Development (CHEECED). CHEECED will represent a multi-disciplinary cluster of university faculty with a common goal of working with industrial partners, Indigenous communities, and municipalities on natural resource initiatives. FedNor’s support will help drive innovation and the adoption of advanced technologies in the natural resource sector.


“Education and training changes lives and families. Ensuring our economy works for everyone means we must all work together to help every person reach their full potential. The $2.1 million in new investments announced from FedNor today will support the Matawa Training and Wellness Centre, Confederation College, and Lakehead University to continue their important work in skills training and development programs that reach people and lift them up through education. The Northern Ontario and local economy needs a skilled and talented workforce to grow, and today’s announcement will help our region develop the talent we need.”

-        The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor

“The economic benefits created by the FedNor funds announced today will help Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario continue to thrive. Supporting our workforce helps us continue to maximize the potential of our economy. We are helping create new jobs, new opportunities, and new growth in Thunder Bay and across Northwestern Ontario through this collaboration.”

-        Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River

“FedNor’s ability to find alignment between the mutual objectives of the Jobs and Growth Fund and the Matawa Training and Wellness Centre within this phase of its renovations will enable us to move closer to our goal of being able to provide the space needed to offer the essentials skills, trades and other training needed to participate in Canada’s economy.”

-        Rosemary Moonias, President of Matawa First Nations Management

“The Evergreen Outdoor Classroom represents an important addition to the broad, dynamic learning environments we have been providing to students in Northwestern Ontario for over 50 years. We are thankful for FedNor’s support in helping us further the objectives of respect and inclusion whereby Indigenous knowledge is foundational to learning, and this project helps us do exactly that.”

-        Kathleen Lynch, President of Confederation College

“FedNor’s support of the Centre for Healthy Ecosystems and Environmentally Conscious Economic Development is going to help us drive innovation, and to understand the challenges and impacts of natural resource industry. CHEECED represents an opportunity to work with municipalities, Indigenous communities, and industry partners to capitalize on opportunities, mitigate risk, and develop solutions that benefit everyone.”

-        Dr. Andrew Dean, Vice President Research and Innovation, Lakehead University

Quick facts

  • Matawa First Nations Management (MFNM) is a registered non-profit Tribal Council. Tribal Councils are institutions established as, “a grouping of bands with common interests who voluntarily join together to provide advisory and/or program services to member bands.”

    • MFNM membership includes 8 First Nations in Treaty 9 and 1 First Nation in Robinson-Superior (though not a signatory to this Treaty). Five Matawa First Nations are accessible by air and winter road while the other 4 are accessible by all season roads. The combined population of Matawa is over 10,000.

    The Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF) is a $700-million fund delivered by the regional development agencies (RDAs) to help businesses and the organizations who support them to future-proof, build resiliency and prepare for growth by transitioning to a green economy, foster an inclusive recovery, enhance competitiveness and create jobs. Of this support, $70 million has been dedicated to businesses and organizations created after January 2020.

    • FedNor has delivered more than $15.5 million through the JGF across Northern Ontario to date.

    FedNor’s Regional Growth Through Innovation Fund (REGI) supports the growth of Northern Ontario businesses, their expansion into new markets, and their adoption of new technologies and processes.

Associated links


Andrew MacKendrick

Director of Communications

Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor


Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario

Media Relations

Page details

Date modified: