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LaFlesche Chosen as First Participants in Indigenous Business Defence Sector Accelerator

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

LaFlesche co-founder, Leo Hurtubise, with high-tech injection molding equipment the company special-ordered from Germany.

Kahnawà:ke, Quebec, Sept. 26th, 2023 - The Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) recently announced the Indigenous companies selected to participate in the Indigenous Business Defense Sector Accelerator program, which opened to applications in June of this year. Of the many businesses vigorously vetted across the country, just six were chosen. Among them wa LaFlesche, an Indigenous plastics manufacturing and innovations company from Kahnawà:ke, QC. “It’s incredibly exciting and humbling,” expressed LaFlesche President Thawennontie Thomas.

The accelerator is the first of its kind and will provide opportunities for Indigenous businesses in Canada, which are traditionally underrepresented in supply chains, to engage in the defense industry. The Government of Canada recently rolled out mandates to target at least 5% inclusion of Indigenous businesses in all federal procurement, but until now have fallen far short of these goals. Programs like this aim to change that. With Canada expecting to spend $553 billion on defense over the next 20 years, 5% inclusion in this one sector alone could amount to as much as $27 billion dollars for Indigenous communities.

“Being chosen and believed in by this pioneering program speaks volumes about the trust being placed in LaFlesche and our team. With this support and invitation to participate in a multi-billion-dollar industry, we are excited and honoured to break barriers for other Indigenous businesses,” said Katie McGowan, LaFlesche co-founder. “Although there is a willingness for Indigenous participation in the defense sector, actual access for companies like ours has been difficult. This program really puts words into concrete actions."

The program is sponsored from major stakeholders across the industry, including the Canada Council for Aboriginal Business, General Dynamics’ business units in Canada, Land Systems–Canada, Mission Systems–Canada, and Ordnance and Tactical Systems–Canada. Over the next year, the selected six businesses will receive mentorship and support from the program’s sponsors to prepare them to enter an industry that was all but inaccessible until now.

The successful applicants are:

Acosys Consulting Services Inc. Montreal, QC

COTA Aviation Parksville, BC

Gestion ADC Laval, QC

MBS Techservices Inc. Vancouver, BC

LaFlesche Inc. Kahnawake, QC

Xtended Hydraulics and Machine Regina, SK

LaFlesche’s Tehionerahtathe Thomas calibrates production equipment. As participating companies are mentored by their sponsors, they will learn about regulatory requirements and acquire skills to leverage opportunities within their sponsors’ global supply chains. CCAB will help facilitate connections between sponsor organizations and Indigenous business leaders participating in the program to increase awareness of sector-specific opportunities and will provide mentorship and coaching for navigating the process of becoming a supplier within Canada’s defence industry.

“A big congratulations to the inaugural candidates of the Indigenous Business Defence Sector Accelerator Program. They will have the opportunity to participate in a bespoke supplier development program and expand their network and further engage with the defence sector supply chain,” said Philip Ducharme, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Procurement at CCAB. “Thanks to the support and leadership of General Dynamics, we hope to continue this valuable program and invite other mature defence sector partners to join the program. Together we can continue to help Indigenous businesses climb to success with new procurement opportunities.”

LaFlesche manufacturing facilities in Kahnawà:ke, Quebec.

About LaFlesche

LaFlesche is an Indigenous-owned plastic manufacturer in Kahnawà:ke, Quebec, specializing in high-quality, sustainable plastic products. With a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and excellence, they offer a wide range of plastic manufacturing services, including custom injection molding, CNC machining, prototyping, mold making, medical device manufacturing, sustainable plastics innovation, and product development.

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