Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce

Join the Indigenous Supplier Database

Dear Cando member,

Cando is currently part of an initiative from various national Indigenous organizations, joining forces to be part of the response against the COVID-19 pandemic, and to make sure that Indigenous businesses are part of the solution.

Our economic development officers are therefore being called to action, and invited to submit the information of the businesses they represent, so they can be part of this comprehensive and searchable Indigenous Business database that will be used by federal government departments that are looking for prospective suppliers in all sectors of economic activity.

As you may know, the Government of Canada is currently the largest public buyer of goods and services in Canada, purchasing about $22 billion worth every year.

We are currently working with an Indigenous consulting firm, called Acosys, to reach out to our members. They will be contacting you in the coming weeks to collect information, so the businesses you represent can be contacted regarding procurement opportunities.

If you wish to submit this information yourself on behalf of these businesses, you can also click this link:



and fill out the form and repeat the process for each business.

For more on the database, please visit the website! 



Cando kickstarts pandemic taskforce unifying Indigenous organizations

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

There’s no denying the pandemic has forced people throughout the world to change their lifestyles and ways of thinking.

One of the positives, however, has been the creation of the Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce.

This initiative was brought forth by officials from the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO), the organization that promotes economic development in Indigenous communities throughout Canada.

Besides Cando, the taskforce, supported by Indigenous Services Canada, includes seven other organizations. They are the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA), Assembly of First Nations, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, National Indigenous Economic Development Board and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.

The purpose of the taskforce is to bring together First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations to provide the federal government with one Indigenous business voice during the pandemic.

Keith MatthewAnd its goals include providing analysis on Indigenous businesses and communities so the government can assist with proper support as well as assembling the Indigenous supply chain to take part in calls for manufacturing and distribution of medical equipment and supplies.

“It’s historic that these organizations are working together,” said Cando president Keith Matthew said. “In my mind that’s very notable.”

Some of the organizations in the taskforce had talked about working together dating back to early 2019. The thinking then was to combine forces and collectively seek federal funding, instead of doing so individually.

The pandemic and its ensuing impacts heightened the need for some sort of Indigenous taskforce involving various organizations.

Ray Wanuch

“We saw an opportunity to work together and we reached out to the feds,” Matthew said. “We said (Cando would) be happy to act as the catalyst.”

Ray Wanuch, Cando’s executive director, said a couple of things were quickly discovered once the eight groups agreed to join forces and form the taskforce.

“The need for a national database populated with Indigenous companies became evident right away,” Wanuch said. “The other thing that became evident right away was a need for a national Indigenous skills inventory. That will be built in time.”

Wanuch believes the eight organizations that comprise the taskforce could potentially work together on post-pandemic ventures as well.

“I would like to think that would be the case,” he said. “There are some politics involved. But that would be the hope.”

Matthew would also welcome future collaborations.

“We’ll have to see,” he said. “It’s not up to any one organization. It’s all voluntary. But I’m hopeful we can do some other things together.”

Tabatha B - CCABTabatha Bull, CCAB’s president and CEO, said it only made sense to have the taskforce participants work together.

“From the outset, we believed joining together as one voice focused on the Indigenous business economy would provide the government of Canada with the informed information they required to ensure the appropriate support measures for Indigenous business were put in place,” she said.

Bull also believes it has been encouraging to see organizations, previously devoted to their own missions, working side by side with others towards a collective goal.

“If there has been a silver lining to this crisis, it has been the coming together of communities, business and organizations,” she said. “We will need to continue to work and advocate collaboratively to make positive progress for Indigenous business and communities.”

Shannin - NACCAShannin Metatawabin, NAACA’s CEO, said the taskforce was launched in response to the pandemic. But he also believes working together with other Indigenous organizations in the future could also prove to be beneficial.

“The taskforce is a COVID-19 targeted scope to maximize Indigenous participation in procurement,” he said. “If we continue it will be under the scope of improving economic development outcomes. Prosperity is the goal.”




Taskforce Key Findings Discover the key research findings of the Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce!