Remote communities in Canada often lack the services that their big-city counterparts take for granted. With smaller numbers of residents and large unpopulated areas between towns, it can be difficult to attract and retain businesses to provide access to essentials like groceries, clothing or gasoline.
For Canada’s Indigenous communities, which are often located in remote areas, there remains the desire to maintain community ownership of local businesses and while also increasing local employment opportunities.
To address this desire, both the community and private organizations need to think differently about local businesses. This means creating a business model that allows for local entrepreneurs to retain ownership and hire from within their community, while accessing the opportunities that larger corporations can provide is key.
Organizations like Petro-Canada have been working on this model with communities for years, beginning to partner with Indigenous business owners in 1997. Today, First Nation communities own and operate more than 30 Petro-Canada branded gas stations across the country. From Metlakatla First Nation in BC to Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan and Esgenoopetit First Nation in New Brunswick, each partnership model is designed to meet the needs of the community, enabling local ownership and job opportunities. And since each owner is part of the community; they understand the needs and preferences of those they serve every day as retail operators.
The communities benefit not only from access to services, but local employment and economic growth. By thinking about business models differently and developing unique partnership models, there is tremendous opportunity for both local communities and the private sector for shared success.