Engraved on Our Nations

Indigenous Economic Tenacity

Wanda Wuttunee (Editor), Fred Wien (Editor)


A testimony to Indigenous resilience in business

Despite investments in nation building, self-autonomy, and cultural resurgence, Indigenous economic development has remained an underexplored and underestimated area of research. Engraved on Our Nations overturns the discouraging deficit perspective too common in policy and academia and amplifies the largely undocumented history of successful Indigenous economic activity in Canada.

Following David Newhouse’s overview of Indigenous economic history, the authors of this collection illustrate how First Nation and Métis individuals and communities have met and overcome an array of challenges. Case studies focus on First Nations from Membertou (Nova Scotia) to Tahltan (British Columbia) and Indigenous-led enterprises like McDonald Brothers Electric (Northwest Territories) and Neechi Commons (Manitoba). Simultaneously celebrating Indigenous entrepreneurs and exploring concerns around sustainable development, the book also asks: can capitalism be Indigenized?

This first-of-its-kind collection shares stories not only of entrepreneurial excellence and persistence but savvy leadership, innovation, and reciprocity. In doing so, Engraved on Our Nations provides hope to Indigenous business leaders, youth, and elected officials working on the front lines to improve economic conditions and achieve "a good life" for their communities.


“There are few books that can compare to this. The strengths-based approach used by each author is refreshing and will be of service to First Nations communities and to Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars in community economic development.”

Shelley T. Price, Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria

Engraved on Our Nations clearly articulates the strength, courage, and foresight of Indigenous people. The uplifting stories within this volume will open the eyes of readers and elicit hope, inspiration, and pride.”

Bob Kayseas, First Nations University of Canada

About the Authors

Wanda Wuttunee is Professor Emerita at the University of Manitoba, where she was Director of Aboriginal Business Education Partners at The Asper School of Business. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development.

Fred Wien was Director of the Maritime School of Social Work at Dalhousie University where he currently holds a professor emeritus appointment. He also served as Deputy Director of Research at the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples, 1992-96. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 2015.

Other contributors: P. Jerry Asp, Clifford Gordon Atleo, Charlotte Bezamat-Mantes, Mary Beth Doucette, Isobel M. Findlay, Christopher Googoo, Catherine Martin, Daniel M. Millette, David Newhouse, Judith Sayers

Table of Contents

Preface: Exploring Indigenous Economic Tenacity in Canada – Wanda Wuttunee and Fred Wien

Introduction: Indigenous Economic History as the History of Tenacity – David Newhouse

Part One: Strategic Leadership

1. How Does First Nation Social and Economic Development Contribute to the Surrounding Region? A Case Study of Membertou – Mary Beth Doucette and Fred Wien

2. Incremental Planning: The Tsawwassen First Nation Experience – Daniel M. Millette

3. Fulfilling Treaty Promises: Treaty Land Entitlement and Urban Reserves in Saskatchewan – Charlotte Bezamat-Mantes

Part Two: Culturally on Point

4. Trading on Tradition: Innovative Indigenous Enterprise – Isobel M. Findlay

5. Capitalism: Can It Be Indigenized? – Clifford Gordon Atleo

6. Challenges and Opportunities for BC First Nations’ Economic Self-Determination – J. Sayers

Part Three: Family Connections

7. Honouring Entrepreneurial Resilience: Atlantic Region Lifetime Achievers – Chris Googoo, Catherine Martin, and Fred Wien

8. A Métis Light in the Northern Darkness—Case Study – Wanda Wuttunee

9. Neechi Commons Case Study: A Lost Love Letter to Winnipeg – Wanda Wuttunee

Part Four: Partnering for Success

10. Tahltan Economic Tenacity—From Affluence to Poverty to Affluence – Jerry Asp

11. Stronger Together: First Nation Community/Municipality Collaborations – Wanda Wuttunee

Conclusion: What Did We Learn About Indigenous Tenacity? Fred Wien and Wanda Wuttunee




University of Manitoba Press is grateful for the support it receives for its publishing program from the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund; the Canada Council for the Arts; the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, and Tourism; the Manitoba Arts Council; and the Aid to Scholarly Publishing Programme.