Fraser Forum

Own-source revenue: a non-government source of revenue for aboriginal communities

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Given Prime Minister Trudeau’s vows of a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Canada’s indigenous peoples, aboriginal issues will likely be a key element in the upcoming federal budget.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) recorded more than $7.9 billion spent in 2013/14, and many are calling for an increase in spending. However, it’s important to remember that government transfers are not the only way for aboriginal communities to generate revenue. In addition to federal government transfers, which has risen more than 800 per cent over the past six decades, all First Nation communities have the ability to generate own-source revenue (natural resource revenue, casino revenue, user fees for services, etc.). And many are doing so in large amounts.

For the first time, the public is able to see how these communities are raising their own-source revenue due to the introduction of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA). Signed into law in 2013, the FNFTA requires all bands to make their audited financial statements and salaries public.

Using data collected from 539 First Nations audited financial statements, a recent Fraser Institute study found that in 2013/14 alone, First Nations communities generated more than $3.3 billion in own-source revenue.

In fact, Tsuu T’ina Nation (southwest of Calgary), which recently honoured Prime Minister Trudeau with a headdress, generated the most own-source revenue—$113,068,892 in 2013/14. For Yale First Nation in southern British Columbia, their own-source revenue translated to more than $45,000 per member in 2013/14.

Natural resource revenue makes up a considerable share of own-source revenue for some communities. For example, in 2013/14, 188 communities reported having some type of natural resource-based income. Frog Lake First Nation (east of Edmonton) generated more than $45 million in natural resource revenue in one fiscal year, amounting to $14,000 per Frog Lake resident. With total revenue of approximately $61.5 million, almost three quarters of the community’s income came from natural resource revenue.

These communities, with their relatively large shares of own-source revenue, can serve as examples for other First Nations across Canada.

Top 10 Own-Source Revenue (OSR) Generating Communities (2013/14)



Tsuu T'ina Nation (AB)


Membertou (NS)


Fort McKay First Nation (AB)


Samson (AB)


Squamish (BC)


Chiniki (AB)


Saint Mary's (NB)


Frog Lake (AB)


Enoch Cree Nation #440 (AB)


Chippewas of Rama First Nation (ON)



Top 10 Natural Resource-Revenue Generating Communities (2013/14)


Natural Resource Revenue

Frog Lake (AB)


Samson (AB)


Lax Kw'alaams (BC)


Chiniki (AB)


Moose Cree First Nation (ON)


Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam  (QC)


Squamish (BC)


Alexander (AB)


Tataskweyak Cree Nation (MB)


Yale First Nation (BC)





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