Celebrating 40 years of bridging the gap

  • Recipient: Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB)
  • Region: Southern Ontario
  • Most recent funding allocated: $160,000
CCAB provides opportunities at all its events across the country for Indigenous business members to showcase their products and market their businesses.

"FedDev Ontario helped CCAB to increase awareness of the capacity of Indigenous businesses to participate in the economy by promoting the services and capabilities within the Indigenous business space. This encouraged growth in supply chain opportunities, which advances both the Indigenous economy and the Canadian economy as a whole."

Shannon Sutherland, Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Events, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

In the spring of 1982, Murray B. Koffler, founder of Shoppers Drug Mart and co-founder of The Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, was visiting Calgary, Alberta, when he noticed that there was a large unhoused Indigenous population. Koffler gathered a group of influential Canadians—from corporate Canada as well as Indigenous leaders—to find ways to help advance Indigenous participation in the economy. This eventually gave rise to Canadian Council for Native Business (CCNB), which is now Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), which was incorporated in 1984 by 27 founding board members, including Koffler and the highly respected Indigenous community and business leader, Don Moses. Since then, CCAB has marked many milestones. CCAB is a not-for-profit organization that works to support and develop relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses and promote economic reconciliation.

In May 2024, CCAB will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Its work has positioned Indigenous business as an important part of a new economy based on mutual respect and shared prosperity. It has cultivated partnerships by creating meaningful opportunities through diverse programming, providing tools, training, network building, advocating through research, and commemorating achievements of Indigenous businesses and leaders that propel the Indigenous economy forward. Its membership has climbed to include over 2,500 companies, including more than 1,300 Certified Aboriginal Businesses ranging in size from entrepreneurs with fewer than 20 employees, to organizations with more than 10,000 employees. This not-for-profit has changed the face of Canada's business landscape and pioneered new progressive relationships for all Canadians.

Photo provided by CCAB of local vendors and shoppers at the East Coast Business Forum Artisan Marketplace.

CCAB's expertise on the needs of Indigenous communities and business owners has continued to inform FedDev Ontario funding for Indigenous communities. In 2023, representatives from FedDev Ontario attended the annual Ontario First Nations Economic Developers Association conference, alongside CCAB, to discuss community economic development in southern Ontario and gain insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by Indigenous businesses, industry and communities. FedDev Ontario and CCAB further discussed these topics at a roundtable, and collaborated to develop and co-host multiple outreach opportunities to learn directly from Indigenous entrepreneurs. The outcome of these discussions supported the creation of the Agency's Indigenous landing page and informed future programming for Indigenous businesses.

CCAB has been recognized as a pioneer for bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses. FedDev Ontario is proud to partner with this not-for-profit that continues to make a real difference across the country. FedDev Ontario remains committed to connecting with organizations like CCAB to create new economic opportunities for Indigenous communities and further progress reconciliation.

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