VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Feb. 29, 2016) - Western Economic Diversification Canada

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, today announced that the Agency will invest more than $5.4 million, through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's Strategic Partnerships Initiative, in support of economic opportunities for First Nation communities in British Columbia. This investment will help support innovation and unlock economic opportunities in the province's clean energy and natural resource sectors.

Federal funding of $3,950,000 will be provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada to support the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to provide early support to boost Indigenous communities' capacity and readiness to develop clean energy projects by fostering awareness, providing needed funding, as well as facilitating private sector engagement and partnerships.

A second investment of $1,500,000 will support the New Relationship Trust to create an Economic Development Support Team (EDST) that will provide advice and support to First Nation communities that want to advance economic opportunities in the West Coast Energy sector.

Quick Facts

  • The Strategic Partnerships Initiative is an innovative program designed to increase Indigenous participation in complex economic development opportunities.
  • The Strategic Partnerships Initiative is administered by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Contributing departments, like Western Economic Diversification Canada, also play a lead role in investment decision-making and implementation of initiatives under the program.
  • The BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative is expected to involve at least 35 Indigenous communities in the development of clean energy projects, while helping to create at least 40 jobs, and supporting expansion for 30 businesses. It is expected that this support will also help leverage $5 million in new capital investments.
  • The Economic Development Support Team will provide economic development advisory services to at least 12 First Nations in BC. The team will work with communities to help them take steps to advance economic development opportunities related to the West Coast energy sector.
  • These projects will help support construction jobs, investments and procurement contracts related to clean energy projects, including hydro, solar, wind and tidal power, while also helping some communities reduce their dependency on conventional diesel power generation.


"The Government of Canada is proud to support Indigenous peoples to become full economic partners in the development of our abundant energy resources. By working together, we are building a relationship that will be a foundation of economic growth and opportunities for First Nation communities and all Canadians."

- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada

"Genuine partnerships with Indigenous communities in the clean energy and natural resource sectors increase Indigenous participation in economic opportunities, as well as strengthen local economies. All Canadians benefit when Indigenous communities are key partners in sustainable economic development that promotes stronger, healthier communities."

- The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

"The Government of Canada is committed to working with Indigenous communities to support the sustainable development of Canada's energy resources. These initiatives are excellent examples of collaborative activities that support opportunities for Indigenous peoples in the transition to a low-carbon economy."

- The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources

"Many First Nations in BC are building their economies through renewable energy. Having the ability to bring in expertise to assist in the planning, development and operations of these projects is a very positive initiative by Western Economic Diversification Canada."

- Dr. Judith Sayers, former Chief of the Hupacasath First Nation and Board Member for Clean Energy BC

"New Relationship Trust's (NRT) goal is to assist in building capacity in First Nation communities throughout British Columbia. Our partnership with Western Diversification Canada (WD) with the Economic Development Support Team is a new initiative that will assist First Nations in BC to take advantage of economic projects happening within their traditional territories. Also, NRT is excited to partner with WD in the new BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative, which will assist BC First Nations in pursuing clean energy business opportunities for their economic benefit."

- Cliff Fregin, Chief Executive Officer of the New Relationship Trust

Additional links

Strategic Partnerships Initiative - Overview

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Contact Information:

Ben Stanford
Regional Communications Manager
Western Economic Diversification Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia

Media Relations
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Cliff Fregin
Chief Executive Officer
New Relationship Trust

WD Toll-Free Number: 1-888-338-WEST (9378)
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-877-303-3388
Website: WD is online at