Bridging the gap

Bridging the gap

< Back to Articles | Topics: Member Profile | Published: November 7, 2023

Nadine Bernard is helping pave the way for a closer working relationship between indigenous communities and private sector businesses, working to move the bar towards economic reconciliation that much closer.

Originally from Cape Breton’s Waycobah First Nation, in 2019, Barnard, who has a background in Finance and liaison work, says she saw a gap in terms of supporting businesses in the private sector, and Indigevisor was born.

An indigenous consultancy supporting multisector indigenous inclusion, strategies, recruitment, retention, strategic planning, and HR, Bernard says Indigevisor is about helping companies make that ever-important connection with indigenous communities.

“We can do an overview of a company’s policies and help with some recommendations to better equip it for indigenous inclusion,” she says. “And in my different positions I noticed that they just didn’t know how to establish relationships with indigenous communities, so it was this niche kind of market.”

On the flip side, Bernard also helps indigenous communities with procurement; navigating the rules around the Federal government’s 2021 Indigenous Procurement Policy.

“We help identify indigenous business in Eastern Canada to be able to be successful in tendering within the private sector, able to meet minimum targets, and identifying and making linkages for those indigenous companies to be privy to the opportunity,” she says.

Slow initially, a year ago, Bernard says, things began to change.

“Up until late October 2022, I had three major clients and was working a day job as a senior policy analyst with the province,” she says. “Then there was this major boom and demand was all of a sudden huge.”

As a result, Bernard was able to bring on her first employee and started to create a delivery structure; a model which would allow her to build the capacity in others to work alongside her. That capacity has since grown to a point where she now has an intern and is about to hire a fifth employee.

“The mechanisms that we’ve created have been phenomenal and have been game changers in terms of creating opportunities and streamlining the process,” she says.

Bringing wealth back to indigenous communities — as part of the path to economic reconciliation — is what it’s all about for Bernard. Something, she says, that means a lot to her on a number of levels.

“I just wanted to be part of it. As an indigenous woman and as someone who watched my father’s role in economic development for the last 30 years,” Bernard says.

The father she’s speaking of is Louis-Joe Bernard, Economic Development Officer with the Union of Nova Scotia Indians at Membertou First Nation, for the last 21 years.

Currently working with 21 clients across Atlantic Canada, including the Atlantic Science Enterprise Centre, on a $320M DFO expansion project — Bernard says though busy, and with an office in Cape Breton and a sub-office in Halifax, she still has her sights set on expansion further west.

“I’m looking to double my workforce by employing indigenous women to represent community and build capacity for future women to be those leaders and mobilizers, so an office in Ontario and one on the West coast would be amazing.”

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< Back to Articles | Topics: Member Profile

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