First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities across Canada are emerging as successful major project leaders, but not all of them have the necessary resources to make informed decisions, manage risks, and finance large-scale investments in their futures.

The Current Landscape

Major projects are massive drivers of economic activity in Canada. Over the next decade, they are projected to generate $540 billion in capital spending while acting as a major source of job creation across all regions of the country.

Despite the profound impacts major projects can have on Indigenous lands, resources, and people, Indigenous communities have often lacked input into these development decisions. But they have persevered and secured legal victories asserting their rights. Many have also formed mutually beneficial relationships with industry to mitigate project impacts and produce community benefits.

Increasingly, Indigenous communities are seeking ownership in major projects. As co-owners, they can form deeper partnerships with industry and pursue greater decision-making power and long-term, stable revenue generation.

Our research explores the challenges Indigenous communities face and the best practices that industry, governments, and lenders use to support Indigenous ownership while delivering major projects on time and on budget.

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Key Findings

Through early engagement, trust-based relationships, and creative transaction structures, Indigenous communities and project proponents are de-risking investments in major projects.

Most Indigenous communities lack access to affordable capital to acquire meaningful major project ownership. Successful but geographically limited financing programs must be expanded to address this issue.

Métis and Inuit communities lack access Indigenous-led institutions that facilitate major project ownership. A distinctions-based approach is needed to bridge this gap.

Remote communities can benefit from shared capacity and resources that take into account their small scale and funding programs that consider their low revenues and high project costs.

The federal government can further de-risk major project investments involving Indigenous co-owners by clarifying how its policies will impact project returns.

Creative partnerships between Indigenous communities and industry have potential to deliver major projects with greater certainty and shared prosperity. Canada can be a world leader in supporting the efforts behind this momentum.

Matthew Belliveau

Matthew Belliveau

Senior Research Associate

Recent releases

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Indigenous Ownership: Overcoming Obstacles and Forging Partnerships

Impact paper  |  25-min read  |  September 29, 2022

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Indigenous Ownership: A New Economic Era

Online experience  |  8-min read  |  February 7, 2022

Matthew Belliveau

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