Features | From Pivot Magazine

This group adds about $30 billion to the GDP. It could be double

Indigenous engagement is a much-needed piece to this country’s economic prosperity

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Illustration of Canadian flag with Indigenous symbols incorporated in the designCanada’s Indigenous population is growing at almost double the national rate. Economic prosperity must include them (Curtis Wilson)

Canadian GDP estimates attributable to Indigenous Peoples range from $32 to $49 billion. Surprising for some, but according to the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, if Indigenous Peoples’ economic engagement equaled that of the population as a whole, that number would almost double.

The legacies of colonialism, racism and the intergenerational impact of assimilation policies are still very much with us. Significant gaps in rates of poverty, food and housing insecurity, education and training, unemployment and median income continue.

What is Canada losing by not including Indigenous Peoples? For a start, comparable economic participation would mean an additional $8.5 billion in income earned annually by a fully engaged Indigenous workforce. There would be 173,000 fewer Indigenous people living in poverty—reducing government spending on economic inequality by $8.4 billion annually.

As part of Truth and Reconciliation, Canada needs to own our historical past and recognize the harm Indigenous peoples have and continue to suffer. Canada’s oldest chartered bank was founded in 1817 by Montreal fur traders. Indigenous peoples were at the heart of that trade but were largely excluded from its economic opportunities. More than 200 years later, Indigenous peoples are still fighting for their rights.

Canada’s Indigenous population is growing at almost double the national rate. Economic prosperity must include them.

What can we do to achieve economic and social parity? Work towards better supports for Indigenous economic inclusion. Include entrepreneurship in Indigenous high school course curricula. Support procurement from Indigenous-owned companies. Ensure wealth sharing and equity ownership of resources developed on Indigenous lands. That would be a good way to start.


Check out the new CPA education program that reflects Indigenous reality and learn about five things you can do to better understand our Indigenous history. Plus, find out more about CPA Canada’s Introduction to Indigenous People culture course as well as its CPA Martin Mentorship Program for Indigenous High School Students.