Government of Canada supporting Indigenous-led partnership to create new business opportunities and jobs in Alberta’s agriculture sector

$5 million contribution through PrairiesCan to support the construction of an Indigenous owned industrial hemp processing plant in Elk Point, Alberta

ELK POINT, AB, May 3, 2024 /CNW/ – A competitive and sustainable agriculture sector is a vital contributor to the Canadian economy. Crop and animal production, processing of food and food ingredients, and manufacturing of products like biofuels and hemp fibre are key economic drivers that support quality jobs. The Government of Canada is investing in initiatives that increase the value of agriculture, advance reconciliation, create jobs, and establish new opportunities for businesses.

Government of Canada supporting Indigenous-led partnership to create new business opportunities and jobs in Alberta’s agriculture sector (CNW Group/Prairies Economic Development Canada)

Today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, announced $5 million in federal funding through the Community Economic Development and Diversification fund for the Askiy Hemp Limited Partnership (Askiy) to construct a state-of-the-art industrial hemp processing plant in Elk Point, Alberta. When complete, the plant will process 40,000 tons of hemp stalk annually for use in a variety of products including textiles, building materials, fertilizer, and paper. Increasing demand for hemp will provide a new revenue stream for farmers and diversify Alberta’s agricultural sector.

Askiy is a partnership between Frog Lake First Nations and Logistik Unicorp. As part of the agreement, industry experts and Indigenous communities will work collaboratively to build on Alberta’s existing agricultural strengths. Frog Lake First Nations will engage surrounding communities, organizations, and residents to build awareness of new business opportunities and share information that maximizes economic and community benefits for east-central Alberta.

The Askiy hemp processing plant is expected to be operational in summer of 2025 and is one component of a multi-million-dollar development that Askiy will lead in the Elk Point area. Once complete, this facility will directly employ more than 45 individuals, with at least one third of these jobs expected to be filled by Indigenous Peoples. Initially the hemp materials produced in this facility will primarily be used in textiles.

Quotes

“Our government is taking action to advance reconciliation and to develop meaningful partnerships that contribute to an economy that works for everyone. By supporting the Askiy Hemp Limited Partnership hemp processing plant we are helping to strengthen the economy in the Elk Point area, creating quality jobs for Albertans, contributing to economic reconciliation, and adding value to Canada’s agriculture sector. This investment will help build a stronger and more sustainable economic future across the Prairies.”
–The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan

“The agriculture sector plays an essential role in the lives of all Albertans. It is a key economic driver in communities across the province and provides quality jobs, especially in rural Alberta. This investment will help farmers in the Elk Point region access new opportunities in agriculture and will create more good jobs for area residents, including members of the Frog Lake First Nations.”
–The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages 

“As the Chief of Frog Lake First Nations, we are committed to enhancing the lives of our people. This can only be done by diversifying and by making investments such as this as it is an important factor to the nations’ growth. I want to take this time to thank Logistik Unicorp, for approaching Frog Lake First Nations to develop a joint venture partnership and form Askiy Hemp LP. This is a great opportunity for economic growth for Frog Lake First Nations. It will provide a large scale of opportunities in green energy, food and water sovereignty, clean transportation, carbon sequestration and sustainable projects.  It will also provide a number of employment opportunities for our nation’s members as well.”
–Chief Gregory Desjarlais, Frog Lake First Nations

“On behalf of the Town of Elk Point, we are excited that with the assistance and encouragement of our government, Askiy Hemp LP had decided to invest in our town. Askiy Hemp LP is a shining example of the collaboration between our First Nation friends and the private sector to promote economic and agricultural development within our region. Most important of all, this venture also provides employment opportunities for our Frog Lake First Nations and residents, as well as future economic development opportunities within our region.”
–Parrish Tung, Mayor, Elk Point

“We are pleased to be part of the transformation of the Canadian industrial landscape by fostering economic development for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Working with Frog Lake First Nations is a natural step in creating this new branch of our economy, which is in line with Canada’s vision of growth and representation. This project, which is rooted in our environmental values, will bring about the creation of a unique hemp industry, in the image of all Canadians.”
Louis Bibeau, President and CEO, Logistik Unicorp

Quick facts

  • A repayable $5 million federal contribution is being provided for this project through the Community Economic Development and Diversification fund, administered in Alberta by PrairiesCan.

  • PrairiesCan programs and services help businesses, not-for-profits, and communities grow stronger: its mandate is to support economic growth and diversification in the Prairie provinces and advance the interests of the region in national economic policy, programs, and projects.

  • Through the Community Economic Development and Diversification fund, the federal government is making targeted investments in not-for-profit organizations that aim to generate sustainable, inclusive growth and help communities to fully participate in, and benefit from, economic opportunities.

  • The Framework to Build a Green Prairie Economy is a long-term commitment to work differently, through stronger coordination among federal departments on investments for the Prairies and closer collaboration with Prairie partners on their priorities for a prosperous and sustainable Prairie economy.

  • The Framework is intended to encourage greater collaboration, leverage additional funding, and attract new investments across the Prairies.

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SOURCE Prairies Economic Development Canada

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