The Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan) is investing over $4 million into two organizations based in British Columbia to support economic development projects for Indigenous peoples.
The First Nations Technology Council received $2 million, while the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI) secured $2.3 million. BCICEI also received $1.6 million from Indigenous Services Canada.
Recent report stresses continued need for programs that encourage Indigenous participation in the tech sector.
According to BCICEI, the combined $3.9 million it received will help 14 Indigenous communities in developing new clean energy projects.
BCICEI is funded by PacifiCan through the federal government’s Strategic Partnerships Initiative, with contributions from the Government of British Columbia’s CleanBC plan. The initiative is mandated to support the planning and development of clean energy generation projects, as well as solutions for energy efficiency and storage.
Since its inception in 2016, BCICEI said it has provided $26 million to support over 100 clean energy projects in First Nations in BC. These initiatives have generated enough clean energy to power over 3,600 homes and reduced enough CO2 emissions to take the equivalent of 128,000 cars off the road for a year, said Minister for PacifiCan and International Development Harjit Sajjan.
Additionally, BCICEI-funded projects have created nearly 1,400 jobs and reduced diesel usage by over 2.8 million litres annually.
Indigenous-led not-for-profit organization First Nations Technology Council will use the funding to deliver its technology employment training program named Digital Horizons.
First Nations Technology Council is mandated to support all 204 First Nations communities across British Columbia in the areas of digital skills development, connectivity, information management, as well as technical services. It claims to have partnered with over 150 Indigenous communities across the province to deliver its programs.
The Council published a report in February that maps the Indigenous tech landscape in British Columbia. Examining labour market opportunities and constraints, skills development and gaps, the review highlighted the need for more programs that encourage Indigenous participation in the tech sector. It found that 23 percent of Indigenous-owned businesses in BC are technology-focused.
The Digital Horizons initiative aims to train over 700 Indigenous people with the skills they would need to be “hired for in-demand jobs or to launch their own tech or tech-enabled businesses in the province,” according to the Council.
Featured image courtesy First Nations Technology Council