Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce

The database is now accessible to any organization looking for prospective Indigenous PPE suppliers and COVID-related services, and can be accessed through PSPC’s PPE supply hub, as well as at

Cando among Indigenous organizations that partnered to create successful taskforce

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

There’s no denying the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on businesses throughout the world in 2020.

But numerous positive stories have also emerged during this challenging year.

For example, a handful of organizations, including the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando), joined forces to create the Indigenous Business Taskforce, in response to federal government’s call to companies to increase their production of personal protection equipment (PPE).

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada are the other organizations currently part of the taskforce.

George MorrisonThese organizations then collectively hooked up with Indigenous Services Canada and Acosys Consulting Firm, an Indigenous consulting firm, to launch a database of Indigenous businesses.

The goal was to have some of those Indigenous businesses in the database step up and offer to respond to the country’s massive demands for PPE supplies, including masks and sanitizers, to deal with the pandemic.

One of the companies that has been successful with its procurement bids via the federal government is the First Peoples Group of Enterprises. This company, which has offices in British Columbia and Ontario, offers diverse services, including the development of housing and commercial projects.

But one of its other ventures is manufacturing skin products, including sanitizers.

“Before COVID we probably couldn’t give the stuff away,” said George Morrison, the principal of the company’s First Nations consulting team. “After COVID it was like gold.”

Read more: 

Creation of Indigenous Business Taskforce netting results
for various companies

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Teamwork can often produce considerably better results than individual efforts.

That has certainly proven to be true with the creation of the Indigenous Business Taskforce.

Early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government called on businesses to increase production of personal protection equipment (PPE), in order to better deal with its response to the widespread illness.

As a result, a number of national Indigenous organizations teamed up to create the Indigenous Business Taskforce. The goal with this venture was to assist Indigenous businesses so they could hopefully land some federal contracts by providing much-needed supplies.

Officials from the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando) spearheaded the establishment of the taskforce.

Other organizations currently involved with the taskforce are the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.  Keith MatthewOthers who offered support to the creation of the taskforce were Indigenous Services Canada and Acosys Consulting Services, an Indigenous consulting firm.

“We anticipated the initial wave and I’m not sure we’re done with the first wave but we’re definitely entering the second wave of the pandemic,” said Cando president Keith Matthew. “I would say there’s an even greater need now for PPE.”

Matthew is pleased to see some Indigenous businesses have landed contracts with the federal government to provide PPE. And he believes Indigenous businesses are capable of landing many more deals in the future.

“Once they get their foot in the door, it’s easier to navigate federal government purchasing,” he said.

Read more:



Taskforce Banner

New Indigenous Business Database Assisting with
Economic Recovery During Pandemic

EDMONTON, October 30, 2020 - At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government called all Canadian businesses to action to increase production of personal protective equipment (PPE), to support Canada’s purchases in response to COVID-19.

Since the call was made, several National Indigenous Organizations have partnered up and created a 100% Indigenous-led Taskforce to mobilize Indigenous suppliers, who then responded overwhelmingly to either manufacture supplies such as hand sanitizer, gowns, or masks, or retool their businesses to do so.

In partnership with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) the Indigenous Business Taskforce includes the following National Indigenous Organizations:

  • Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando)

  • Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)

  • Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

  • Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC)


‘’It is truly historic to see as many National Indigenous Organizations work together towards a common goal. The magnitude of such a collaboration has never been seen before, and Cando, as contribution agreement holder, is enormously proud to be a part of it.’’

Keith Matthew, President and Cando Director for British-Columbia.


The Indigenous Business Database

With the support of ISC and Cando, Acosys Consulting Services, an Indigenous consulting firm, partnered with Google and SADA Systems, to create a technical solution for a single, national database of verified Indigenous businesses, using Google Cloud.

‘’This Indigenous-led solution will undoubtedly help satisfy Canada’s need for PPE and COVID-related services, especially now that the second wave is well underway. Moreover, it provides Canada with a pathway towards economic reconciliation.’’

David Acco, President of Acosys Consulting Services.

Generating business

The initial release to government buyers with the support of PSPC resulted in more than $5M of business towards registered Indigenous suppliers for purchases of hand sanitizer, disposable masks, and sanitizing wipes to support the reopening of government offices.

AMI Medical Supply Inc. seized the opportunity and was recently awarded a contract to supply 3-ply nonmedical disposal masks to the Government of Canada. Edgar Davis, Executive Director, expressed his gratitude to the Taskforce for its commitment to providing Indigenous-owned businesses greater opportunities for growth and prosperity.

"Now more than ever, we need to support one another and work collaboratively towards a common goal, taking care of our families and our communities."

– Edgar Davis, Executive Director, 
AMI Medical Supply Inc.

Other businesses that won contracts following their registration on the database include Dreamline Canada in Alberta, and First Peoples Group, a company rooted in B.C. & Ontario.

The database is now accessible to any organization looking for prospective Indigenous PPE suppliers and COVID-related services, and can be accessed through PSPC’s PPE supply hub, as well as at

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, two of the biggest challenges we face are keeping people safe and supporting Indigenous businesses. The Indigenous Business Taskforce has risen to the challenge and is doing both. The Government of Canada is proud to have partnered with the Taskforce and we encourage all businesses and communities in need of PPE to consider purchasing it from a supplier or manufacturer in the Indigenous Business Database.  Together, we can fight the pandemic and support people and businesses through this crisis.”

– The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services.


Registering a business onto the database is completely free, and an integrated concierge service provides assistance to businesses as well as prospective PPE buyers in the process.


Paul Macedo
Communications Officer, Cando
Phone: (780) 990-0303 #236

For registrations:
Justine Germain
Communications Consultant
Acosys Consulting services
514 262-3461


Media Release English Docx

Media Release English PDF

Communiqué taskforce Français Docx

Communiqué taskforce Français PDF

 Taskforce Banner


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.”




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