THUNDER BAY – Millions of dollars worth of economic impact. “We were amazed when we began to add up how much money is contributed to the economy by First Nations, First Nation businesses and organizations,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic, who organized the event. “We initially started this because we want to share with the general public how First Nations are significantly contributing to the economy of Thunder Bay and as more and more results come in, the figures are only increasing.”
Massive impact of First Nations Spending
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic along with business and community leaders highlighted the nearly $52-million contribution made by NAN First Nation organizations to the Thunder Bay economy during the Celebration & Contributions open house at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School on Tuesday.
The $52 million figure does not include the impact brought into Thunder Bay from Fort William First Nation and Matawa First Nations.
What does this mean for the City of Thunder Bay? A common multiplier of seven times is usually applied to the impact on the economy of money. That would peg the impact of First Nations spending in the city to a massive figure.
A recent survey of 12 NAN First Nation businesses and organizations with offices in Thunder Bay found that they contributed an estimated $51.8 million to the economy over the past fiscal year.
The economic impact figures are echoed by national figures released today by Statistics Canada.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo says the Statistics Canada data released today from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) underscores the importance of investing in potential and opportunity of First Nations in Canada.
“While we have concerns about the new process for collecting information, the results released today further highlight the importance of First Nations as one of the fastest growing and youngest population, and as drivers of and partners to economic development,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo, adding that a First Nations driven approach to data gathering, holding and assessment based on respect for First Nation jurisdiction, principles and priorities is required.
Released this morning by Statistics Canada, this is the first wave of data from the 2011 National Household Survey and is focused on Aboriginal peoples, immigration and ethnocultural diversity.
Some of the key data illustrates that the First Nation population continues to grow at a much higher rate than the non-Aboriginal population at almost 23 per cent compared to 5.2 per cent for the non-Aboriginal population. The survey further outlines that the First Nation population is much younger than the non-Aboriginal population with a median age of only 26.
Some of the more staggering statistics, including Aboriginal children representing almost half of all children under 14 years of age in foster care, and 8 per cent of First Nations people reported losing their traditional language. The Survey reports that while there are more than 314,000 speakers of First Nation languages, this number has declined since 2006.
Impact on Thunder Bay
The survey was conducted by a committee of representatives from local NAN organizations. Data was collected on office expenditures, property taxes, payroll, meetings and conferences, travel expenses as well as education expenses for NAN First Nations students attending school in Thunder Bay. The findings are preliminary, but data pending from 13 more organizations and the retail sector is expected to boost the total financial contribution to as much as $100 million annually.
“The truth is we are major economic contributors to the economy,” said Kakegamic, who plans to continue gathering data on a quarterly basis. “First Nation organizations offer a variety of professional services and hold numerous meetings, conferences and cultural events that support the economies of urban centres.”