Indigenous & Northern Communities

The Conference Board of Canada helps leaders build a prosperous, healthy future for Indigenous and Northern communities, governments, and businesses. As a leader in research and stakeholder engagement, our work addresses critical knowledge gaps around northern and remote development, reconciliation, and future skills that challenge decision- and policy-making.

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Recent releases

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Benefit, Burden, or Both? The Economic Impact of Interjurisdictional Workers in Canada’s North

Many interjurisdictional workers (IJWs) are employed throughout Canada’s North. Often flying in to work in Northern communities, these workers are used to fill open positions across several industries due to the lack of required skillsets in local labour markets. Many of these workers are employed in the construction and the mining and quarrying and oil and gas sectors, though they also fill positions across other industries, such as public administration and accommodation and food services.

Issue briefing  |  21-min read
May 11, 2022

Person on tablet looking at analytics
Finance and Management Skills for Economic Reconciliation

To shape Canada’s economy in partnership with Indigenous people, we need to understand how a dynamic new generation of Indigenous professionals can take the lead in managing their communities’ unique corporate services. Indigenous skilled labour is critical to realizing a new vision of economic reconciliation where First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities control their economic futures.

Online experience  |  8-min read
April 27, 2022
Partner—Future Skills Centre

ATV driving in snow
Building Bridges: Increasing Opportunity for Inuit

Employers need better tools to address employment gaps within their organizations. Understanding Inuit strengths, skills, and cultural knowledge can help. Industries and public institutions tied to Inuit communities have a responsibility to empower Inuit employment and lead by example. Those that do will also benefit from increased capacity, Inuit expertise, and social investments.

Online experience  |  8-min read
April 11, 2022
Partner—Future Skills Centre

Man in yellow coat
Skills for the Northwest Territories

In 2016, the Government of the Northwest Territories launched Skills 4 Success, an initiative to develop education and training programs that more effectively respond to employer, community, and industry needs. Skills 4 Success has never been more relevant. As the territory confronts COVID-19, it also faces deeper challenges to renew and diversify its economy.

Online experience  |  8-min read
April 1, 2022

Woman and child sitting with a basket of berries
Cool Ideas: Hyperlocal Food Systems to Address Northern Food Insecurity

This series aims to raise awareness about emerging opportunities in a thoughtful and creative manner, while weighing the costs and benefits of new systems against their risks and challenges. Promising new technologies could address long-standing, pivotal objectives that Northerners have identified as priorities; they can also be disruptive and carry unintended consequences.

Impact paper  |  32-min read
March 28, 2022

Fly-In, Fly-Out Labour in Canada’s North: Benefits, Challenges, and Social Impacts

The economy in the North is growing—and with it, the need for skilled labour. There are clear benefits to using fly-in, fly-out workers, but the practice also brings a number of important social challenges. The economic boom in Canada’s North is tied to the development of world-class mines and large oil and gas reserves as well as its thriving tourism industry, among other sectors.

Impact paper  |  47-min read
March 11, 2022

Values, Knowledge, and Vision: How Inuit Skills Can Strengthen Northern Economies

The relationship between the wage economy and the traditional land-based economy in Inuit Nunangat is complex—as is Inuit participation in both. Traditional land-based activities such as hunting and harvesting are integral to community food security and cultural continuity, but the ways in which Inuit experience and earn these livelihoods continue to evolve.

Primer  |  18-min read
December 20, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

Boat in water
Made in Nunavut: Building Inuit Skills for Northern Offshore Fisheries and Beyond

Nunavut’s economy is largely dependent on mining and public administration. But the territory’s commercial fishery and associated marine capacity has continued to grow over the past two decades. Just prior to COVID-19, the Nunavut Fisheries Alliance estimated that the territory’s commercial fishery added $112 million to Canada’s 2019 GDP. This includes the fishery’s direct operations, its companies’ supply chains, and associated consumer spending.

Impact paper  | 30-min read
December 14, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

Boy fixing equipment
Saskatchewan’s Forest Sector: Future Skills for an Indigenous-Led Revitalization

The Canadian forest sector is facing a challenge to attract, train, and retain workers. In this boom-and-bust industry, forestry companies must increase efficiency in order to remain competitive when the market is weak while also responding to growing demand for sustainable practices and high-value wood products. Indigenous forestry businesses are no strangers to this dilemma.

Case study  |  25-min read
November 30, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

Two men working in a mine
Skills Development in Northern Mining Regions

For many northern Indigenous communities, mineral exploration properties and active mines are the closest employers. Mining is big business in northern Manitoba. The industry has been a strong source of employment for Indigenous workers, with accessible entry-level positions and opportunities to learn on the job. While the benefits of short-term job training are attractive, Indigenous communities are having to make complicated decisions about economic development that have long-term implications.

Case study  |  15-min read
November 4, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

Skills Development in the North: An Ecosystem Shaped by Distinct Challenges

Occupations and in-demand skills are changing. Two-thirds of workers expect their jobs to be changed by technology every five years. Other forces driving labour market change in Northern Canada include commodity cycles, demographic change, climate change, modern treaties, and Indigenous self-government. Understanding how these changes impact workforce development across Northern Canada requires looking beyond the training institutions that deliver skills for jobs.

Primer  |  30-min read
September 9, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

The Borders of Labour: A Profile of the Interjurisdictional Workforce in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut

There is a well-established practice in Canada’s three territories to use interjurisdictional employees to meet regional labour and skills shortages. This need stems mainly from resource development and infrastructure projects. However, there are interjurisdictional employees working in other sectors as well. And while there is a larger proportion of interjurisdictional workers coming into the territories, each territory also supplies labour to other provinces/territories.

Primer  | 30-min read
September 3, 2021

Indigenous Participation in Clean Energy Projects

According to Indigenous Clean Energy, there were over 2,000 Indigenous clean energy projects across Canada in 2019. Almost 200 were medium- to large-sized projects (they produce at least one megawatt). And Indigenous partners are taking on more equity in these projects: On average, Indigenous communities own a 45% share of the projects they’re involved in.

Online experience  | 8-min read
July 5, 2021

National Indigenous History Month

Today, as we mark the start of National Indigenous History Month, we recognize the cultures, heritage and traditions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across Canada. This is a month to both deepen our understanding of and celebrate Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast.

Op-ed | 3-min read
June 1, 2021

Technological Change in the North

The economy in Northern Canada is changing. Sectors, such as mining, forestry, and tourism, can quickly expand or contract. Advancing technology is one factor driving those changes. As technologies change, jobs and occupations evolve. Skills development must keep pace if workers are to seize future employment opportunities in the North.

Online experience  |  8-min read
May 20, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

Linking Skills to Employment in Inuit Nunangat

Economic opportunities in the region can benefit from Inuit skillsets, strengths, and knowledge. And Inuit have told us they are interested in finding a balance between market participation and traditional land-based activities. Our research will provide insights to help Northern economies grow and support sustainable livelihoods.

Summary for executives  |  4-min read
May 13, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

Linking Employment to Sources of Value in Inuit Nunangat

Many Inuit want to find a balance between market participation and traditional land-based activities. They want diverse jobs that strengthen their communities’ social resources—and that expand on existing cultural knowledge and traditional skill sets. And they want to see their social and cultural values reflected in the sectors that dominate Northern GDP.

Online experience  |  8-min read
May 13, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

Do Indigenous Entrepreneurs Have the Support They Need to Succeed?

While there are compelling reasons for pursuing entrepreneurship, Indigenous entrepreneurs in Northern or remote areas also face a host of barriers and challenges. Services are available, but do they provide the support that is needed?

Impact Paper  |  40-min read
April 15, 2021

Filling in the Map of Indigenous Controlled Post-Secondary Education in Canada

Many Indigenous groups across Canada mandate, govern, and control their own post-secondary institutions. These Indigenous Institutes support lifelong learning as defined by Indigenous Peoples. They also offer education grounded in Indigenous languages, pedagogies, cultures, and worldviews.

Online experience  |  8-min read
March 17, 2021
Partner—Future Skills Centre

The Atlin Hydro Project: Making a Meaningful Contribution to Community Health and Well-Being

Indigenous communities are increasingly developing medium to large infrastructure projects with varying interests in the Canadian clean energy economy. This case study explores one example of Indigenous participation in a clean energy project—the Taku River Tlingit First Nation’s development and ownership of the Atlin hydro project in Northwestern British Columbia. The focus is to investigate how community participation in this project impacts community health and well-being.

Impact paper  |  37-min read
January 27, 2021

Youth learning together
STEM education must be reformed to engage Indigenous youth

It’s more important than ever that Indigenous children in elementary and secondary schools study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). STEM fields are critical to the future of work in Canada. Studies show there’s high demand for jobs requiring expertise in STEM areas. In fact, they’re growing by 4.6 per cent a year in Canada, compared to the 1.8 per cent annual growth of the job market as a whole.

Op-ed  |  3-min read
January 21, 2021

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Amanda Thompson

Amanda Thompson

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