Canada increases support for Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses in international trade to help create well-paying jobs for the middle class

News release

June 21, 2019 - Ottawa, Canada - Global Affairs Canada

The Canadian economy can never reach its full potential if historically marginalized groups are left behind. Canada’s trade diversification strategy is making sure that everyone—including Indigenous peoples—can benefit from the opportunities created by trade and investment. Supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses will result in more jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day—a day to recognize and celebrate the cultural diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people—the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification, announced expanded trade commissioner resources at all six regional offices across Canada in support of Indigenous exporters. These expanded resources will help connect Indigenous exporters to business opportunities abroad.

As part of a funding commitment made in Budget 2018, these new trade commissioners will work to bring more Indigenous-owned businesses into the world of international trade, to help increase the number of Indigenous exporters and to realize opportunities provided by trade and investment agreements and the diversification of markets. The ultimate goal of these investments is to help close socio-economic gaps in Indigenous communities.

This announcement builds on the release today of the report entitled Indigenous-owned Exporting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Canada. The Office of the Chief Economist of Global Affairs Canada has partnered with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) to conduct this research. The report highlights the competitiveness and engagement of the Indigenous business community in the global economy.


“Equal opportunity to access new trade opportunities isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s smart economics. Our economy can never reach its full potential if people are left behind. The continued growth of Indigenous-owned exporting businesses is vital to economies and communities across Canada, and we are going to provide the tools that these businesses need to thrive abroad so they can create jobs here at home.”

- Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification

CCAB is excited to work with Global Affairs Canada to showcase how Aboriginal businesses are two time more likely to export than the Canadian average. It's important to signal to international markets that our companies are open for business.”

- JP Gladu, President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Quick facts

  • According to the report Indigenous-owned Exporting SMEs in Canada, 24.4% of Indigenous-owned SMEs sell their products and services internationally, with more than one in five exporting to the United States and more than one in seven selling to overseas markets.

  • According to Statistics Canada, the number of Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada has nearly tripled in the last twenty years, from 20,195 in 1996 to 54,255 in 2016.

  • In October 2018, Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade Diversification, led Canada’s first Indigenous trade mission to New Zealand for the World Indigenous Business Forum, the world’s only gathering dedicated to Indigenous economic development, entrepreneurship and business.

Associated links


Isabella Brisson-Urdaneta
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Trade Diversification

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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