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CIB helping Indigenous communities tackle infrastructure challenges

June 21, 2024  By CHC Staff

One major project funded through this initiative is the Bekevar wind energy project in Kipling, Sask. (Photo credit: Canada Infrastructure Bank)

TORONTO – The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) continues to find success in  helping Indigenous communities across the country address their need for economic and community development through its Indigenous Equity Initiative.

To date, the CIB has invested $501.5 million of its more than $1 billion goal to fund projects in partnership with Indigenous communities. Funding for this project has been distributed across 15 projects so far, ranging from solar farms in Alberta and a regional airport in Thompson, Man., to broadband connections in many small and remote communities.

One major project funded through this initiative is the Bekevar wind energy project in Kipling, Sask.; a collaboration with the local Cowessess First Nation. Cranes are being used to lift wind turbines across the 200-megawatt project, with completion expected this summer.

According to Sean Willy, CEO of the Des Nedhe Group, a First Nations economic development corporation, access to affordable capital is the biggest obstacle to these communities addressing their infrastructure needs due to the perceived risks of lending to Indigenous communities and their impact on unfavourable lending terms.

“Overcoming these roadblocks means we need to provide targeted support, including more favourable financial conditions and training programs, to empower communities to build the infrastructure they need for long-term growth,” Willy said.

The First Nations Bank of Canada is also matching $100 million from the CIB to address these infrastructure needs.

“The infrastructure gap that exists in First Nations communities alone, estimated around $208.9 billion, requires many industries, sectors, governments, and institutions like CIB pulling in the same direction,” said Bill Lomax, CEO of the First Nations Bank of Canada. “The ability to grow an economy and build a thriving community requires basic infrastructure to meet critical needs like bringing in groceries on reliable roads or creating the ecosystem for business growth.”

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