Successful Aboriginal businesses - On the increase and creating jobs and

OTTAWA, Dec. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Aboriginal businesses are creating jobs and wealth, both in their respective communities and in urban centres. A Conference Board report, True to Their Visions: An Account of 10 Successful Aboriginal Businesses, profiles 10 successful First Nation, Inuit, and Métis businesses from across Canada and highlights common challenges and success factors. This is the first research report to be released by the Conference Board's newly launched Centre for the North.

Aboriginal business development is a growing trend in Canada. In 2002, there were 27,000 Aboriginal entrepreneurs in Canada, an increase of 30 per cent from 1996.

"Aboriginal businesses face the same challenges as non-Aboriginal businesses, as well as unique challenges. The successful businesses featured in this report show that these challenges can be addressed," said Ashley Sisco, Research Associate, The Conference Board of Canada. "Successful Aboriginal businesses not only create jobs and wealth, they play a role in improving overall socioeconomic outcomes for Aboriginal peoples."

    Unique challenges related to Aboriginal businesses include:

    -   limited access to capital (due to socio-economic circumstances and
        inability to leverage reserve, Métis, or Inuit settlement land as
    -   limited access to resources (for those in remote areas)
    -   issues related to band governance (for band-owned businesses)
    -   stereotyping

Drawing on common challenges and success factors from the 10 case study businesses, the report shows that Aboriginal businesses - like all businesses - must implement good leadership, employ sound business practices, and build and maintain strong relationships and partnerships.

Additionally, it shows that success depends on overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities related to being an Aboriginal business, including remoteness of location, socio-economic circumstances, legislation, band governance, cultural influences, and cultural perceptions (perceptions others have about Aboriginal cultures). The 10 case study* organizations are:

    -   Arctic Adventures - Inuit-owned professional outfitting in Nunavik
        (Baie d'Urfé and Nunavik, Quebec).
    -   Big Soul Productions Inc.- an Aboriginal-owned production company
        (Toronto, Ontario).
    -   Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park Inc. - world-renowned cultural,
        educational, and entertainment centre (Siksika, Alberta).
    -   Five Nations Energy Inc. - non-profit electricity transmission
        corporation, owned equally by Attawapiskat Power Corporation,
        Kashechewan Power Corporation, and Fort Albany Power Corporation
        (Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Timmins, Ontario).
    -   KAVIK-AXYS Inc. - one of the leading environmental impact assessment
        and protection planning consulting companies in Northern Canada.
        (Inuvik, Northwest Territories).
    -   Khewa Native Art Boutique - a boutique that specializes in Aboriginal
        arts and crafts (Wakefield, Quebec).
    -   Kitasoo Aqua Farms Ltd. and Kitasoo Seafoods Ltd. - Kitasoo Aqua
        Farms Ltd. is a salmon-farming operation and Kitasoo Seafoods Ltd. is
        a fish-processing plant, owned by the Xai'xais/Kitasoo band. (Klemtu,
        British Columbia).
    -   Membertou Corporate Division - a band-owned business and the economic
        development wing for the Membertou Mi'kmaq community, which owns and
        operates several businesses (Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia).
    -   SAY Magazine - lifestyle magazine for Indigenous peoples (Winnipeg,
    -   Tron Power Inc. - one of the leading general contractors in Northern
        Saskatchewan (Patuanak and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan).

The study includes an Aboriginal business guide and other resources that Aboriginal entrepreneurs can apply to their own businesses.

The study, available at the Conference Board's e-library ( is published by the Conference Board's Centre for the North (, a five-year, multimillion dollar program of consultation, research, and dialogue, designed to provide insights into how Canada can best address the challenges and opportunities in its Northern regions. The Centre will help leaders from all sectors - Aboriginal communities, government, and private industry - achieve a shared vision of sustainable prosperity in the North.

* Note: these are case studies, not intended to be part of a ranking.

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

For further information: For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: (613) 526-3090 ext. 448, E-mail:

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