Aboriginal community missing out on $1 Billion in Saskatchewan
- EFN Staff | June 23, 2016
A new study says that if First Nations and Métis in Saskatchewan had an equivalent educational attainment and income level as non-Aboriginal residents, their earnings would increase by $1.083 billion dollars per year.
The Saskatoon Aboriginal Employment Partnership (SAEP) has released a report entitled ‘City of Bridges: First Nations and Métis Economic Development in the Saskatoon Region’ that delves into the education and employment gaps between Aboriginal people and other Canadians. And their results are clear, there is a huge discrepancy.
“The education and employment gaps are the issue,” says Alex Fallon, the President and CEO of the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority. “If we close that gap, everyone wins. Many things have happened in Saskatoon to move us forward with urban reserves and many partnerships but we have a long way to go for equality. That will only improve if we work together in the community.”
SAEP was formed to support greater employment opportunities for Aboriginal citizens in the Saskatoon Region and is a committee comprising of numerous stakeholders including Aboriginal training and education institutes, industry, the City of Saskatoon and the Saskatoon Regional Intersectoral Committee. The report was developed and researched in cooperation with the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network (SFNEDN). Heather Exner-Pirot of the University of Saskatchewan was the lead researcher.
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Fallon also noted that in this era of reconciliation, there is no better time to move forward together. “What we have going on with SAEP ties into the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action. These are not recommendations,” he said. “These are calls to action and that’s what we intend to do.”
The report also lists five recommendations on how Aboriginal economic development corporations can increase Aboriginal economic and business development opportunities in the Saskatoon Region including diversification of investments, investing in existing businesses (i.e. succession planning), increased networking and investment readiness, enhanced governance and most critically, access to financing.
Fallon acknowledges the gaps but also pointed out the report showed some really positive developments that are having a big impact already. “Aboriginal economic development is happening. Clarence Campeau Development Fund and the SaskMétis Economic Development Corporation have helped Métis businesses create over 4400 jobs combined since their establishment and there are at least thirteen First Nations with land holdings, including both reserve and fee simple, in the Saskatoon region,” said Fallon. “This report is our starting point. We will work to change those employment numbers with our partners and through SAEP and ultimately we can have stranger families and communities for everyone.”
A full copy of the report along with the executive summary can be found at: www.sreda.com