Who We Are

Our Creation Story

Indigenous Peoples have always been innovative. The very story of our survival demonstrates our ingenuity and resilience. In 2015, there was a re-awakening to Indigenous innovation, and First Nation, Inuit and Metis leaders and community members set out a plan to support Indigenous Peoples with a dedicated program to spark a new generation of Indigenous innovation in Canada. Supported by these Indigenous leaders, the McConnell Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada, the Indigenous Innovation Initiative was born. The purpose of the Initiative is to support and grow innovative First Nation, Inuit and Metis businesses and social enterprises from across Canada’s urban, rural, remote and Northern communities.


About us

Our vision is to improve all life through Indigenous innovation

Through values of inclusion, self-determination, sustainability and creativity, the Indigenous Innovation Initiative enables First Nation, Inuit and Metis innovators and communities to identify and solve their own challenges, transform lives and drive inclusive growth and health through Indigenous innovation. Indigenous innovation is a new idea, program, product or service, or the clever modification of a current program, product or service, that is either designed, developed or invented, in whole or in part, by or for Indigenous Peoples and their communities. 

Murray Sinclair quote

The Indigenous Innovation Initiative is hosted at Grand Challenges Canada. Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact®. Funded by the Government of Canada and other global partners, Grand Challenges Canada brings ten years of experience in supporting over 1400 innovations in more than 105 countries and growing. The bold ideas that Grand Challenges Canada supports integrate science and technology, social and business innovation and are saving and improving lives around the world.

Click here to learn more about us, including the model we use to
create spaces where Indigenous innovation thrives. 

Community leadership

Role of community: To amplify and privilege the voice of community, we co-create our programs with First Nation, Inuit and Metis Peoples. For example, we have established reference groups to support the design and implementation of each program in a way that is relevant and responsive to community. This includes collaborating with community members to ensure the programs are based in the needs, priorities, contexts and lived experiences of the innovators, entrepreneurs and communities we aim to support.

Montreal Youth

Indigenous Innovation Council: To ensure we can meet the needs of the innovators, entrepreneurs and communities we aim to support, our initiative is deeply rooted in Indigenous values and wisdom and is built on a foundation of Indigenous ways of knowing and being. To do this right, we draw on the guidance of our Indigenous Innovation Council which is made up of remarkable First Nation, Inuit and Metis leaders, Elders and Knowledge Keepers with a strong commitment to community engagement and co-creation, and with expertise in innovation, impact investing and entrepreneurship.

                             Wendy Phillips   Diane   Karri-Lynn

                             Nadine   Killu   Nathalie

 Click here to learn more about the Indigenous Innovation Initiative team.