Creating Systems Change by Unlocking Potential of Indigenous Innovations

(OTTAWA, ON – July 29, 2016) – A new partnership seeks to unlock much-needed capital for early stage Indigenous social innovation projects with the goal of increasing their impact in Indigenous communities across Canada. Announced today, the Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund (IIDF) provides support to organizations seeking to develop or expand their Indigenous social innovation and enterprise projects.
“Innovation is an Indigenous value,” said Nelson Mayer, President of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC). “In an era of reconciliation, supporting Indigenous innovations is key to creating meaningful systems change that supports both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.”
With the Expressions of Interest open until September 16, 2016, the IIDF will play a support role by generating new approaches based on Indigenous knowledge, supporting Indigenous innovation ideas and scaling their impact.
“This is an opportune time to invest in Indigenous innovation. We hope to hear from communities and organizations with solutions that can lead to lasting changes,” said Stephen Huddart, President of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.
There are two opportunities for communities or organizations to access the IIDF: a coaching stream, which provides $10,000- $20,000 for the development of Indigenous social innovation or enterprise projects; and an impact stream, for more developed initiatives, which provides up to $100,000 towards the scaling of successful projects to share learnings and support other Indigenous social innovations.
Interested organizations or communities that meet the criteria can apply for the fund starting July 29, 2016 online at:
The partnership consists of the NAFC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation (McConnell), building on conversations from the inaugural 2015 Indigenous Innovation Summit about the need for flexible capital with capacity supports to help advance innovations and ideas that emerged over the course of the Summit.
For more information on the Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund, visit

About the National Association of Friendship Centres

The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is a network of 118 Friendship Centres and seven Provincial and Territorial Associations (PTAs) from coast-to-coast-to-coast. For over 50 years, Friendship Centres have been the primary providers of culturally enhanced programs and services to urban Indigenous people living in urban areas.
About the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
Established in 1937, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation engages Canadians in building a more innovative, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient society. The Foundation’s purpose is to enhance Canada’s ability to address complex social, environmental and economic challenges. From an endowment of approximately $600 million, the Foundation provides over $20 million annually in charitable disbursements. Its policy objective is to direct 10% of the endowment to impact investments (currently at 5%).  The Foundation helped establish and works closely with Canada’s core social innovation and social finance infrastructure through such initiatives as the Social Innovation Generation and the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing (Toronto).