Supporting Indigenous-Owned Environmental Businesses in Canada: A Path to Sustainable Growth and Reconciliation

Supporting Indigenous-Owned Environmental Businesses in Canada: A Path to Sustainable Growth and Reconciliation

Safeguarding our natural environment is crucial in Canada.  As we become more aware of environmental challenges and opportunities, there is a notable rise in Indigenous businesses in the environmental sector.


In a collaborative effort, Indigenous Community Engagement (ICE) and ECO Canada spoke with Indigenous environmental businesses across various sectors—forestry, mine remediation, modular housing, and wildlife rehabilitation. Our conversations aimed to gain insights into these businesses’ challenges, primarily with recruiting and employing Indigenous workers. Beyond key challenges and solutions, a directory of Indigenous environmental and consulting firms across Canada was compiled to highlight Indigenous expertise within the environmental sector, integrate Indigenous perspectives into environmental decision-making processes, and foster partnerships that cultivate a sustainable future for all.


Key Challenges and Solutions

Hiring Indigenous Talent

Many Indigenous businesses are eager to hire from within their communities but encounter obstacles in finding qualified candidates.  A significant barrier is the need for more networks and established pathways for Indigenous job seekers.  Building stronger connections among Indigenous businesses and fostering dialogue on employment and skills development are vital to overcome this.

Additionally, some communities may lack adequate support for projects on the ground. This lack of support often results from not having community-appointed members or enough qualified individuals available. Such a shortfall significantly hampers the timely and effective response to local needs and concerns.


Initiatives like targeted recruitment, mentorship programs, and skills development can bridge the gap between Indigenous job seekers and employers, empowering Indigenous Nations and communities through education and training programs.


Access to Funding

Another significant challenge is navigating the complex world of grants and funding. The intensive nature of grant applications can strain resources, diverting attention from core business activities.  Simplifying these procedures to secure the financing of projects and initiatives and offering Indigenous-tailored support can ease this burden, enabling businesses to focus on growth and sustainability.



National Directory of Indigenous Environmental and Consulting Firms

The creation of this directory is motivated by a recognition of the invaluable contributions Indigenous-led environmental consulting firms and services make towards sustainable development, environmental stewardship, and the reconciliation process in Canada. By combining traditional knowledge with Western scientific approaches, these firms offer a comprehensive approach to environmental challenges. Specifically, this directory:


  1. Highlights the valuable knowledge and experience that Indigenous communities bring to environmental projects,
  2. Fosters partnerships between Indigenous firms and other organizations for more effective environmental solutions,
  3. Supports economic development in Indigenous communities, and
  4. Promotes reconciliation by recognizing Indigenous rights and knowledge in environmental decision-making.


The directory is comprised of two main sections, Environmental Consultation Services and Remediation Services and Sustainability Initiatives, and includes company mission & vision, regions of operation, areas of expertise, proportion of Indigenous ownership, Indigenous partnerships, organizational affiliation, and contact information.


The full directory can be downloaded here.


Moving Forward Together

The obstacles encountered by Indigenous-owned environmental business in Canada highlight the importance of joint efforts and specific strategies to foster their development and prosperity.  We can cultivate a more inclusive and lasting environmental sector that advantages every Canadian by tackling these obstacles.


Through meaningful collaborations, policy reforms, and solutions led by the community, Indigenous businesses can gain better access to essential resources and support, paving the way for a more equitable and environmentally sustainable future for upcoming generations.  This approach is in harmony with reconciliation principles, emphasizing the empowerment of Indigenous communities and honoring their knowledge and stewardship of the land.


Guided by mutual respect and collaboration, we can work together to see Indigenous-owned businesses are at the forefront of creating a thriving and environmentally sustainable Canada.

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are ECO Canada’s and do not necessarily reflect those held by the Government of Canada.

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