TD Bank Group provides $450,000 in funding for Indigenous Accelerator Program at Capilano University

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      Capilano University can celebrate some good news in the midst of a pandemic that’s created havoc for postsecondary institutions’ budgets.

      On September 28, the TD Bank Group announced a $450,000 donation to the university’s Indigenous Digital Accelerator program. This initiative advances educational opportunities and mentorship for Indigenous entrepreneurs.

      Over the next three years, the IDA program will work with 10 to 20 Indigenous businesses, according to a Capilano University news release.

      There’s a strong focus on startups and companies that can increase Indigenous participation in the digital-creative and cultural sectors, including film, TV, games, digital media, and communications.

      Doreen Manuel, a documentary maker and director of Capilano University’s Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation, noted in the release that fostering Indigenous-led businesses contributes to healthier First Nations communities.

      “The IDA program bridges gaps in digital skills and business training to help Indigenous entrepreneurs break through barriers and succeed in the tech, digital-creative and cultural sectors,” Manuel said.

      The goal is to create a cluster of digitally focused businesses and organizations in B.C.

      TD regional senior vice president Andy Cribb pointed out that Indigenous-led businesses will play an important part in future economic success.

      "TD is proud to support a program that will encourage Indigenous participation in the economy, and it affirms our commitment to the prosperity of Indigenous Peoples and communities in Western Canada for years to come," Cribb said.

      Manuel, the daughter of influential First Nations leader George Manuel, has long had a passion for providing Indigenous people with more opportunities in the creative sector to tell their stories.

      “My dad used to always say that every single First Nations band should have a communications department,” Manuel told the Straight in an interview earlier this year. “We can use communications and culture to market our businesses and to support our political initiatives.”