FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial and federal governments have made a two-year funding commitment to the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI), which aims to strengthen entrepreneurship and economic development opportunities for First Nations.

“First Nations communities are significant drivers of economic growth throughout New Brunswick,” said Treasury Board President Roger Melanson, who is also the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs. “Our government values our relationship with First Nations chiefs, community members and, indeed, our partnership with the Joint Economic Development Initiative. It is truly a pleasure to work with JEDI to create opportunities and foster economic development in First Nations communities.”   

The JEDI office, located on St. Mary’s First Nation, provides programs and services to support indigenous entrepreneurship, economic development, workforce development, and partnerships with the public and private sectors.

The provincial government is contributing $210,000 over two years for community economic development, entrepreneurship training and support, the Indigenous Internship Program, JEDI conferences and communications, and the Indigenous Business Accelerator Program.

The federal government is investing more than $2 million in the initiative. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is providing $1,024,690, with a portion of that funding coming through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Business Development Program is contributing $994,476.

“The Government of Canada is pleased to invest in JEDI to help build a stronger entrepreneurial community that fully involves indigenous participation and stimulates greater economic opportunities throughout New Brunswick’s First Nations communities,” said federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, who is also the minister responsible for ACOA.

“The Joint Economic Development Initiative has been working with partners to foster economic and workforce development for indigenous peoples and communities in New Brunswick for over 20 years,” said JEDI president Alex Dedam. “This two-year funding agreement from the Province of New Brunswick provides us with additional financial stability and allows us to focus our efforts on helping our indigenous clients. The support that we receive from our funders is crucial to our continued work and carrying out JEDI’s vision of striving for full indigenous participation in the New Brunswick economy.”

The provincial government has identified First Nations economic development as an important element of the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan.