January 10th 2019 something incredible happened. A comprehensive report was created regarding Manitoban finances. What’s even more mind blowing? It is centred around Indigenous people in Manitoba and shows the strong contributions that were made to the provincial economy. Some of you (racists or bigots, take your pick) are going to want to take a seat, this news might seem ludicrous to you, I mean, Indigenous people… being a positive factor on the economy??? Well better believe it because this report is local, comprehensive and was based on research only within the past few years.
One of the major findings of the paper includes the fact that Indigenous spending in Manitoba totalled $9.3 billion in the year of 2016, equivalent to 3.9% of the provincial GDP. That spending and putting back into the economy is greater than the contributions made from oil and gas, food and accommodations or manufacturing.
This is a huge number that shows the scale of ongoing Indigenous impact in Manitoba. Who did this report though? Why should it be considered credible? Because it comes from local organizations and community members like those people at Brandon University’s Rural Development Institute (RDI). Together with the Southern Chiefs’ Organization Inc. (SCO) and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) the team produced the report as just a single year snapchat of Indigenous contributions. It is reports like these which can be used to unlock even further potential in the future, through study and research.
The director of RDI, Bill Ashton, said “Indigenous economic impact has enormous growth potential,” and this is due to the fast growing Indigenous populations as well as the opportunities for economic development. Ashton notes that the economic development is increasing “both on-reserve and off-reserve, but also by expanding the opportunities provided by urban reserves.”
This report is the first one of its kind, being foundational in terms of research and analysis which was in accordance with the First Nations principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Possession.
Truly an incredible feat, congratulations goes out to those people at RDI and the people in surrounding communities who helped create this groundbreaking research. For those interested in reading the report you can check it out on Brandon University’s webpage at https://www.brandonu.ca/rdi/projects/indigenous-economy/.