Economic Development: Three Programs that Empower Indigenous WG2STGD+ People

Aug 04, 2023
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The Community Workforce Development Program

Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the Community Workforce Development Program is a one-year project, ending in March 2024. Its mission is to empower Indigenous WG2STGD+ individuals living in communities with populations of less than 10,000.

The program consists of two vital components. First, the skills training, which can be conducted either online or in-person. Second, work placements within local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with wage subsidies provided to individuals who have completed their training. The aim is to encourage local employers to hire the individual once the subsidized work placement ends.

The training sessions encompass a wide range of skills, including digital literacy, job-specific proficiencies, and hands-on trade-like abilities such as barista or culinary training. By offering a diverse range of training opportunities, we aim to equip participants with the tools needed to thrive in the workforce.

The Economic Development team is implementing the project in collaboration with NWAC’s provincial and territorial member associations (PTMAs). The PTMAs are identifying the communities that would be targeted, as well as local labour market needs. This involves engaging with SMEs to determine available job opportunities and skills gaps.

This partnership with ESDC enables us to contribute to the development of a National Workforce Strategy. The strategic framework will outline key priorities, policies, and initiatives that shape an approach to workforce development and employment for Indigenous WG2STGD+ people. As part of our commitment, we are conducting extensive background research and engaging in roundtable discussions with various stakeholders. Our aim is to foster a more inclusive and resilient workforce, addressing the unique challenges faced by Indigenous communities and contributing to overall economic resilience.

We are eager to see this transformative project unfold, paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future for all.


#BeTheDrum is an entrepreneurial outreach and navigation program developed by NWAC. It is designed to build the skills of Indigenous women and gender-diverse people entering the spheres of business, management, and entrepreneurship. #BeTheDrum has been a very successful program and has been in operation for over three years. Since then, we have attracted over 330 Indigenous women and gender-diverse entrepreneur members.

#BeTheDrum works to engage and prepare existing and budding Indigenous entrepreneurs for continued success. Those who join our program will be greeted by a team of dedicated entrepreneur navigators and mentors, with access to relevant workshops, networking events, peer-to-peer groups, and our live social media Q&A sessions.

The impact of such support will increase the likelihood of business survival past the start-up phase, into successful enterprise, and finally leading to higher presence in the economic landscape of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

This summer, #BeTheDrum has covered a vast array of business-related topics for workshops. These include:

  • accounting
  • business success
  • marketing for makers
  • preparing for tax season

We hosted presentations from a number of groups, including:

  • Business Development Canada and its services to Indigenous entrepreneurs
  • Indigenous financial institutes in collaboration with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association
  • doing business with government in collaboration with Public Services and Procurement Canada

We also held bi-weekly networking circles.

This year, we are hosting over 47 workshops and networking circles, with at least one event occurring each week.

Indigenous Women's Entrepreneur Accelerator

The WES Accelerator is a new program to NWAC. Through the Accelerator program, we have held five workshops since the April on the following topics:

  • art of entrepreneurship
  • creativity in digital spaces
  • artistry and digital illustration
  • making it in the beading industry

We also continue to provide mentorship and navigational support to member entrepreneurs.