EDMONTON -- The UCP created a crown corporation that will receive a $1-billion backstop for Indigenous natural resource and infrastructure projects.

The Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC) is expected to have eight or nine board members, and it will operate at "arm's length" from the government and report to Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson.

The AIOC will loan money and acquire existing loans, issue loan guarantees, enter into joint ventures and purchase shares or other equity, the province said. It will also offer technical and financial expertise.

"Many of our First Nations do not have the depth, on their balance sheets, or the size and scale to participate in larger potential financial transactions," Premier Jason Kenney said. "The Indigenous Opportunities Corporations will try to deal with that gap."

Kenney called Bill 14 "historic," and said "too many First Nations people have been left behind."

"For too long our Indigenous people have not benefited from the enormous value of resources in Alberta," the premier said.

Indigenous groups as defined by the Indian Act are eligible to apply for AIOC support.

On Tuesday, leaders from Enoch Cree Nation, Treaty 8 and Siksika Nation attended the province's news conference and praised Kenney and the UCP for creating the AIOC.

Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey said it is time to "remove some of the economic barriers and become true partners."

AIOC is expected to be running by spring 2020.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Timm Bruch