Three New Funding Programs for Aboriginal Community Wellbeing

by Scott Mackay, Managing Partner and CEO/CFO



Of interest to indigenomics junkies, Aboriginal communities, and proponents working with Aboriginal communities, we have recently become aware of three new federal and provincial community and economic development funding sources that are focused on or can be accessed by Aboriginal communities. They are:

  • The Small Communities stream of the Building Canada Fund (Canada-Ontario)
  • The Ecoenergy program for northern and Aboriginal communities (Canada)
  • The Aboriginal Economic Development Fund (Ontario)

These programs are about funding capacity building in aboriginal communities, aboriginal-private sector business partnerships, and aboriginal energy partnerships.  We provide links to information about these programs below along with some highlights.


The Building Canada Fund

Infrastructure Canada’s “Building Canada Fund” ( has a focus on large infrastructure projects of a national or regional scale, but also has a “Small Communities Fund” ( envelope for infrastructure projects in communities smaller than 100,000 people. First Nation Band Councils are eligible to apply for the funding. Eligible project categories include:

  • Public transit
  • Drinking water
  • Wastewater
  • Solid waste management
  • Green energy
  • Innovation
  • Connectivity and broadband
  • Brownfield redevelopment
  • Disaster mitigation infrastructure
  • Local and regional airports
  • Short-line rail
  • Short-sea shipping
  • Highways and major roads
  • Northern infrastructure (applies to Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories only)

This funding is allocated to the provinces and territories who will then decide on project-specific funding allocations and individual project maximum allocations.   Cost-sharing limits are also detailed and apply to the funding. Where applicable, a proposal for an Aboriginal on-reserve project must demonstrate project benefits extending beyond the reserve community. If you have an eligible project, you are encouraged to contact the relevant provincial or territorial delivery agency, which are listed on the fund webpage.


Questions of a more general nature about the program can be directed to Infratructure Canada:

Email: Phone: 613-948-1148 Toll Free Number: 1-877-250-7154


EcoEnergy Program for Northern and Aboriginal Communities

While not a new funding program, the funding for this program has been renewed. Information is available at . While it is open to all northern and Aboriginal communities (including First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities and organizations), the fund has indicated its priorities are to:

  • Projects in northern communities (in the territories).
  • Projects in off-grid communities (those not connected to a provincial or regional electrical grid)
  • Communities/proponents that have not received funding since 2007. 

The fund will provide up to $250,000 for either

  • Renewable energy projects- must result in greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 4000 tonnes over a 20 year life cycle.  Eligible activities all aspects of planning, engineering, and environmental approvals but do not include equipment purchase or related capital costs.

  • Renewable energy projects integrated with new or existing community buildings- eligible activities include engineering and renewable energy equipment purchase, shipping, and installation.

If you require additional information, please contact the program through

In Ontario, this funding could be paired nicely with the Ontario Power Authority’s Aboriginal Energy Programs- .


The Aboriginal Economic Development Fund

This is an Ontario provincial program only- delivered through the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. The program information can be found at There are three ‘streams’ of funding:

  • Business & Community Fund- designed to enhance business financing and support services of Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs).  THIS FUNDING STREAM IS NO LONGER OPEN.
  • Economic Diversification Grant-  promotes the development of economic diversification strategies to help communities broaden their economic base and identify new or emerging areas of economic opportunities, facilitate the implementation of economic strategies by supporting forward-looking planning that identifies high-potential economic opportunities within a wide range of sectors, and support feasibility studies and project funding for initiatives that contribute to economic diversification as well as employment, business and/or training opportunities.   The funding window for this grant program opens on February 2, 2015 and all applications need to be submitted by 5 pm EST on March 6, 2015.
  • Regional Partnership Grant- Grants support key ‘building blocks’ of successful economic development through strategic investments on a regional or province-wide scale with a focus on improving skills training opportunities (particularly on-reserve) and facilitating access to financing for promising projects. Grants support new projects as well as the ‘scaling up’ of existing projects that have showed promise at a local level and have the potential for success at a regional or province-wide level.       Grants can also support business opportunities where there are significant economic development, employment, skills, and training benefits. Funding applications for these grants are accepted quarterly, with the next application deadline of 5 pm EST on February 27, 2015.

The regional partnership grant funding stream can involve private or non-profit sector partners to deliver the projects or business opportunities, but the funding must be applied for by the Aboriginal community and they are accountable for delivering and measuring all required outcomes. If a private sector or non-profit sector partner is involved, formal agreements for delivery of the project or business opportunity must be in place by the time a funding agreement is signed with the Ministry.


Questions about the AEDF should be directed to or by telephone at 416-326-4740 and 1-866-381-5337.

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