The Evolution of Equity: The Impacts of Active-Equity Participation to Indigenous Nations in Project Development

April 1st, 2024 | Luticia Miller

The shift from Indigenous participation to Indigenous leadership through active influence and Indigenous equity investment in major projects in Canada has accelerated in recent times. This shift has been at the behest of unrelenting Indigenous work and leadership, and more recently supported by capacity maturity, collaborative government supports, and increased capital market interest. However, the full benefit of Indigenous ownership and participation is being realized creating greater value not only for the Indigenous nations that are involved, but also for the projects and surrounding economy as a whole.

A New Era of Indigenous Participation

Indigenous nations are recognizing that the value of equity participation in project development isn’t only in the revenues generated, but in the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the development process, in operations, and in policy and decision-making roles. Through this greater depth of engagement, Indigenous asset owners are seeing a maturity of capacity and building strong commercial and industrial experience that positions Nations for increasing leadership in subsequent developments. Active equity participation operationalizes governance for Indigenous decision-making at board tables to materialize into on-the-ground activities that directly impact the Nation membership they represent. Leaving behind the bare-minimum standard of a few short-term jobs for the Indigenous nation today has emerged as Indigenous equity ownership as leaders and decision makers in prime contractor selection and contract administration, including Indigenous procurement at every level of the supply and value chains.

Government interest and support in Indigenous economic reconciliation has played a role in the advancement of Indigenous equity participation. In Canada, governments have increasingly upheld Indigenous rights and established standards for Indigenous leadership in environmental and cultural impact assessment. Concurrently, they have created pathways to accessing affordable capital through mechanisms such as loan guarantee programs. By doing so, they have set a predictable and effective landscape for Indigenous nations active investment in project development. Innovations such as the loan guarantee program, first deployed by Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, are being emulated in other provinces, with also commitments from the Federal Government. These programs are what facilitate access to affordable, non-recourse financing solutions, which ultimately support Indigenous nations equity participation.

Unlocking True Value Through Indigenous Equity Projects

Capital markets, buoyed in confidence by the supports assured by governments in the form of Indigenous loan guarantee programs and other credit enhancements, have sat up and taken notice this shift in Canada. As industry’s literacy around Indigenous partnership grows, the competitive landscape is becoming one where the market’s keen interest is illustrated in the reducing costs of capital. Indigenous equity ownership in major projects are increasingly seen as not just ‘one way’ or ‘a good way,’ but as the ‘best-‘ or ‘only way’ to develop energy, net zero, infrastructural, or critical mineral projects in Canada. The confidence of capital markets translates through more competitive rates to higher profitability for Indigenous equity holders in those projects.

The full benefits that project equity can bring to Indigenous nations can only materialize when those Indigenous partners exercise their influence through active participation in project development. By not only being at the table, but having influence at all levels of decision-making, Indigenous equity holders can fortify developments with Indigenous values and fully realize the ripple effects of economic growth on the health and wealth of their Nation membership and beyond.

RIA Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view or position of the Responsible Investment Association (RIA). The RIA does not endorse, recommend, or guarantee any of the claims made by the authors. This article is intended as general information and not investment advice. We recommend consulting with a qualified advisor or investment professional prior to making any investment or investment-related decision.


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Luticia Miller

VP of Project Development

Ms. Luticia Miller has had a notable career in major projects, initially starting as a welding apprentice and subsequently specializing in planning & execution, project controls, contracts & risk management. With over 20 years of experience in industrial construction, her portfolio spans diverse sectors from conventional oil & gas to renewables (including geothermal, wind, & solar), power & transmission, wastewater, infrastructure, and transportation. Luticia is Cree-Metis, and a champion of First Nations active-equity participation in energy project development as a major contributor to Indigenous health & wealth and to greater levels of project success. Ms. Miller holds an MBA from Queen's University: Smith School of Business. She has sat on both public and private boards, and is an active speaker and contributor to executive education on the topics related to Indigenous Business engagement for corporate Canada. Ms. Miller is honoured to contribute her projects expertise along with her professional passion for Indigenous economic empowerment to serve FNMPC's valued members.