The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Aboriginal Economic Development Corporations (AEDCs), 2019–2021: An Interview-based Perspective with CEOs




Indigenous economic development, business reponse to COVID, resiliency, digital divide, social inequality


Collaborating with the Canadian Council on Aboriginal Business (CCAB), the authors investigate how Aboriginal Economic Development Corporations (AEDCs) responded to and, in most cases, weathered the commercial disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from survey interviews, supplemented by business data from previous CCAB national surveys and other governmental information, the authors explore the challenges that CEOs faced and how they managed their companies through the COVID crisis. For many of the AEDCs respondents, the problems they were facing were not necessarily brought on by the pandemic but were outgrowths of pre-existing socioeconomic disparities that had been exacerbated by COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, these CEOs battled to maintain operations, manage and support staff in trying circumstances, and keep their assets operating or safely managed. They frequently assisted their home communities with services not normally within their purview, including producing PPE products and delivering groceries and medicine to remote communities. This report focuses on crisis management and can be a useful reference point for policymakers and decision-makers looking to create coherent responses to whatever the next crisis faced by EDCs might be.


Anderson, Thomas. (2021). Chapter 4: Indigenous Youth in Canada. Portrait of Youth in Canada: Data Report. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 42-28-0001.

Anderson, R.B., Camp II, R., Dana, L.P., Honig, B., Nkongolo-Bakenda, J.-M., & Peredo, A.M. (2005). Indigenous Land Rights in Canada: The Foundation for Development? International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2(2), 104–133. https:/ /

Aassve, A., Alfani, G., Gandolfi, F., & Le Moglie, M. (2021, April). Epidemics and trust: The case of the Spanish Flu. Health Economics. 30(4), 840–857.

Bleakney, A., Masoud, H., & Robertson, H. (2021). Labour Market Impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous People Living Off Reserve in the Provinces: March 2020 to August 2021. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Brüssow, Harald, & Timmis, Kenneth. (2021). Editorial. COVID-19: Long COVID and Its Societal Consequences. Environmental Microbiology, 23, 4077–4091.

Canada, Immigration and Citizenship. (2022). How the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Works.

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. (2021) COVID-19 Indigenous Business Survey, Phase 2.


Cision News. (2012). Game Changing First Nations Energy Company Announced.

Coates, Ken, & Finnegan, Gregory. (2022a). Fixing Indigenous Governance: Why the Civil Service Is a Basic Essential for Indigenous Sovereignty. Ottawa: The Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

Coates, Ken, & Finnegan, Gregory. (2022b). Give Us Good Measure: Assessing the Value of Federal Funding for First Nations Government. Ottawa: Macdonald Laurier Institute.

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. (n.d.) First Nations Financial Transparency Act, First Nation Profiles.

Daschuk, J.W. (2013). Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and the Loss of Aboriginal Life. Regina: University of Regina Press.

Dinku, Y., & Yap, M. (2022). Young Australians’ Labour Market Engagement and Job Aspiration in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Australian Journal of Social Issues, 58(1), 131–149.

Dinku, Y. (2021). A Longitudinal Analysis of Economic Inactivity among Indigenous Youth. Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 24(1), 25–46.

Dinku, Y., Hunter, B., & Markham, F. (2020). How Might COVID-19 Affect the Indigenous Labour Market? Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 23(2), 189–210.

Finnegan, G.F. (2013). Analyzing the Role of Aboriginal Public Administration in Yukon—The Survey of Employment and Payroll Hours. Aboriginal policy studies, 2(2), 88–107.

Graney, Emma. (2020). Alberta to Declare Oil Sands Workers Essential as Province Prepares COVID-19 Pandemic Response. Toronto Globe & Mail (March 24), online:

Gupta, Shikha, & Aitken, Nicole. (2022, August 30). Stats in Brief: COVID-19 Mortality among Racialized Populations in Canada and Its Association with Income. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Hilton, C.A. (2021). Indigenomics: Taking a Seat at the Economic Table. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers. (See also

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, Coronavirus Resource Centre. (n.d.). Mortality Analyses. (accessed Jan. 12, 2022)

Indigenous Services Canada. (n.d.) Confirmed cases of COVID-19. (accessed Jan. 10, 2022)

Indigenous Service Canada. (n.d.). Indigenous Business Directory.

Lan Hoang. (2020). Indigenous Business Month Finds New Ways of Connecting During COVID-19. Melbourne Business School News (Oct. 21).

Peredo, Ana María, Schneider, Bettina, & Popa, Audrey Maria. (2022). Indigenous Entrepreneurial Finance: Mapping the Landscape with Canadian Evidence. In David Lingelbach (Ed.), De Gruyter Handbook of Entrepreneurial Finance, Chapter 17. Boston: De Gruyter.

Richards, John, with Mark Krass. (2015). First Nations Own-Source Revenue: How Is the Money Spent? Commentary Number 437. Toronto: CD Howe Institute.

Statistics Canada. (2023). Profile Table: Membertou 28B, Indian Reserve (IRI) Nova Scotia. Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population. Census Catalogue no. 98-316-X2021001. Ottawa: Released February 9, 2022; Updated March 29, 2023.

Statistics Canada. (2023, January 6). Labour Force Characteristics by Indigenous Group and Educational Attainment. Table 14-10-0359-01.

Statistics Canada. (2022). Labour Force Survey, December 21, Chart 3: Upward trend in public sector

employment continues, employment change (%) compared with February 2020. The Daily (January 7).

Statistics Canada. (2021). A snapshot: Status First Nations people in Canada. Indigenous Peoples Thematic Series.

Statistics Canada. (2020, Oct. 20). Impacts on Indigenous People.


Statistics Canada. (2018, June 21). Aboriginal Population Profile, 2016 Census.

Swartz, Kenneth I. (2014). The People’s Airlines. Skies Magazine (December).

Taylor, Laura, Bakes, Nicole, & Richardson, Don. (2020). Into the Right Hands: Conjuring a Sanitizer Supply Chain to Indigenous Communities. Shared Value Solutions.

Yarn Strong Sista website:






Lessons From Research