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a, What is Luminary:

Luminary is the name that Indigenous Works has given this initiative to design and implement an Indigenous innovation strategy and plan leading to economic transformation, employment and wellbeing. In 2020, over 140 Luminary Charter Partner signed onto a planning initiative to co-design an Indigenous innovation strategy to harness research and innovation to create economic transformation, employment and wellbeing.  [click here to see the 2020 Luminary Charter Partner document]

Luminary Strategy Sessions Introduction Video April 2021

Luminary partners learn more about the eight strategy themes in this dynamic 19 minute video with voices and perspectives from across Canada.

b. Why Innovation Matters in the Indigenous Landscape

The current strategies for Indigenous business and socio-economic development are not working fast enough. In a 2019 report the National Indigenous Economic Development Board used a comprehensive range of indicators to assess Indigenous Economic Progress. They concluded that … ‘there are some (very modest) positive trends and improvements in specific markets and communities across Canada. However, no substantive changes have been made in the main socio-economic gaps which characterize Indigenous circumstances today’.[1] This is hard to believe after so many years of effort and resources. Yet the figures show this to be the case. We need some new approaches.

Transformative and accelerated business and economic growth is needed. Indigenous companies should embrace their own innovation agenda to grow and diversify their businesses and economies and strike the connections needed to engage with the mainstream economy to a level and scale that is attractive to all parties.

Indigenous businesses face an engagement gap with Canada’s mainstream economy. A corporate-Indigenous Engagement Index Score developed by Indigenous Works in 2017 places the national engagement level at a mere 13 out of 100. This low score is indicative of the sad state of readiness of Canadian corporations and to engage and work with Indigenous people, businesses, and communities. In the absence of these relationships, full Indigenous participation in the Canadian economy will be elusive for many years to come. The lack of connections, linkages and partnerships mean Indigenous progress into the mainstream economy will continue to be slow.

An emerging narrative announced by Indigenomics is that the Indigenous economy has the potential to grow to $100 Billion over the next few years if the right conditions are created. (It currently sits at about $26 Billion). The aspiration is right but how will we actually attain more accelerated and transformative goals in the near future? How will Indigenous people, businesses and local economies achieve sustainable gains?

The National Research Tri-Agency Report and Plan, ‘Setting New Directions to Support Indigenous Research and Research Training in Canada’ was released in January 2020 with numerous ‘intended outcomes’ such as “research partnerships created between Indigenous communities, the granting agencies, and the broader research community”. Luminary and its partners can help implement and measure many of these important intended outcomes.

[1] 2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report, National Indigenous Economic Development Board, 2019