» Business Innovation Business Innovation | Ecotrust Canada

By Jordan MacDonald, Employment Social Enterprise Project Coordinator

Hecate Strait Employment Development Society (HSEDS) has been assisting the residents of Prince Rupert, Queen Charlotte City, Masset, and surrounding communities achieve their employment, training, and settlement goals for more than 25 years.

Since January, I have fulfilled the role of Project Coordinator, Employment Social Enterprise with HSEDS in partnership with Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab. The goal of this partnership is to explore employment social enterprise initiatives that HSEDS could undertake to provide experiential learning activities and support its clients to gain hands-on work experience.

Jordan MacDonald is the Employment Social Enterprise Coordinator with Hecate Strait Employment Development Society and Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab in Prince Rupert, B.C. (SHANNON LOUGH/ECOTRUST CANADA)

Social value

Social enterprises are business organizations that prioritize the creation of social value over profits alone. For an employment social enterprise this means the organization works with its employees to address the barriers to employment they experience and provide training in workplace-specific skills while developing other essential and transferable skills. This approach seeks to provide a supportive work environment where individuals are viewed as employees – not simply clients – and they are able to build the confidence needed to achieve gainful employment in the community.

To date this project has connected with other employment social enterprises to gather best practices in the field. It has also worked within HSEDS to better understand both the programs and services that are offered, as well as the needs and expectations of the people who interact with the organization. A review of employment social enterprise models has also been completed with special attention to ideas that could address the specific needs of Prince Rupert’s labour market.

Tourism and event planning

In the coming months, I will be working with HSEDS to develop an experiential training cohort that will integrate both in-class and community-based learning activities focused on tourism, event planning, and customer service. Through this course participants will learn and complete specific tasks related to working in a retail or tourism environment. This cohort will support the entrepreneurial spirit of Prince Rupert and act as a pilot and learning opportunity for any future retail-based social enterprise activities.

More than 20 cruise ships are visiting Prince Rupert in 2019. (SHANNON LOUGH PHOTO)

Extracurriculars

While in Prince Rupert I have also had an opportunity take in many of the exciting activities and events that make this community so unique. This includes attending the All Native Basketball Tournament, Salmon Fest, La Cabane à Sucre, and exploring several historic sites and trails along the way.

I have also had the privileged of continuing to participate in several events and conferences relating to my current program of studies. In early June, I attended the Congress of the Humanities where I presented on the connection of university-based refugee resettlement groups to their community contexts.

Innovative approaches

While at Congress, I also attended workshops and sessions hosted by the Association of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, which had specific relevance to the work I am a part of in Prince Rupert. This included the ability for social enterprises to take part in government and business procurement and purchasing activities, youth outcomes in work-integration social enterprises, and strategic planning in the non-profit context.

Each of these areas – whether they be social enterprise, employment, skill development, food literacy, or immigration – are connected through the lens of social innovation. In each of these projects I am working to explore how existing initiatives are socially innovative or can be innovated in some way. Barriers to employment, childhood obesity, and the integration of newcomers pose complex challenges that require socially responsible and innovative approaches and solutions.

READ MORE: Exploring restorative ocean farming in Northern B.C.

READ MORE: Growing a jungle of edible veggies for Indigenous food security

—————————————————————————————————————–

The North Coast Innovation Lab internships are made possible through support from Mitacs Canada.

By Morgan Sage, Food Security Project Coordinator

Prince Rupert has a deep connection to local food through its history and culture of fishing. However, locally grown produce is really only available to people who grow it themselves in their own gardens, or gather it from the wild. Growing food in Prince Rupert has its challenges including soil quality, climate, and deer. Many of those problems are mitigated with protected agriculture, or greenhouse growing.

Morgan Sage holds up a bunch of carrots that she grew inside the greenhouse at Rupert Lawn and Garden to provide for members of the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society in Prince Rupert. (MORGAN SAGE PHOTO)

Since this January, I’ve been the Food Security Project coordinator as part of Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab and my partner organization the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society. The latter owns and operates Rupert Lawn and Garden (RLG) as a social enterprise/business.

RLG has three greenhouses onsite that are used as nurseries and plant sales throughout the growing season. As the spring turns to summer the greenhouses start to empty, leaving unused valuable greenhouse space. My project is using this space to produce food. Because the greenhouses have gravel floors, immovable tables, and is used for different purposes throughout the year, I’m using containers to grow vegetables.

Large scale container gardening is the best way to describe what my project physically looks like. Pots upon pots of tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, carrots, salad greens, peppers and eggplants are filling Greenhouse 3 at RLG. Planting started mid-March and from there everything has exploded. “It looks like a jungle in here!” has been uttered more than once upon someone’s entry into the greenhouse.

Fresh food

The ultimate goal is to increase food security for Nisga’a in Prince Rupert. Recently there was a Nisga’a household survey conducted in Prince Rupert and Port Edward that identified that the number one household need for members is food, and price was the largest barrier to accessing food. Gitmaxmak’ay already has a household food distribution program in place for traditional foods such as oolichan and oolichan grease, herring row, and salmon. This distribution setup will be used to make fresh food grown at RLG available to Nisga’a members.

Just one of the many cucumbers growing from inside the greenhouse. (MORGAN SAGE PHOTO)

However, about half of the produce grown at RLG will be available to purchase by the general public at Rupert Lawn and Garden to help cover some of the costs of production.

So far there have been three harvests of salad greens, that have went to staff at Gitmaxmak’ay and Rupert Lawn and Garden, volunteers for Salmon Fest, and the Elders Fundraiser at the end of May.

Food programs

Even though growing food is the most visible part of the project, I’m aiming to initiate a few programs including a community kitchen where people can cook, eat, and spend time together over food, as well as a program for elders and youth to get their hands dirty at Rupert Lawn and Garden. Elders and youth could also share in the harvest by having their monthly meetings over a meal they helped produce.

Also as part of my project I was able to attend the Northwest Food Action Network’s Food Conference, Food Glorious Food, in Terrace this spring. While there was able to connect in person with some of the Food Action Network’s members; attend sessions on food waste; monitoring fish stocks; and attend workshops on seed starting and community kitchens. This conference highlighted the place-based nature of food security and how important food security is for the Northwest.

Since Morgan Sage planted seeds in the spring the greenhouse dedicated to her project has exploded with edible veggies to distribute to members of the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society. (MORGAN SAGE PHOTO)

READ MORE: The Spirit of Innovation

READ MORE: Exploring restorative ocean farming in Northern B.C.

—————————————————————————————————————–

The North Coast Innovation Lab internships are made possible through support from Mitacs Canada.

Theory put into practice in northern B.C.

By Taylor Reidlinger, Restorative Ocean Farming Project Coordinator

Do you feel like the world is changing ever more rapidly? I do. To thrive as humans, we need to address both the effects of climate change and the needs of growing populations. This demands that communities act as stewards of the environment while adapting to its changes.
An exciting initiative that aims to support both community food needs and environmental well-being is restorative ocean farming, an aquaculture practice where seaweeds and shellfish are grown together in vertical ocean plots. Since January, I have been exploring restorative ocean farming — tangibly — in Metlakatla territory.

Shannon Lough photo

Taylor Reidlinger, who is the Restorative Ocean Farming Project Coordinator with Coastal Shellfish and part of Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab, holds up a tiny scallop at the facility on the coast of Prince Rupert, B.C. (SHANNON LOUGH/ECOTRUST CANADA)

Is it feasible?

Working in Prince Rupert with support and guidance from Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL), Coastal Shellfish Corporation, Metlakatla Stewardship Society, and Metlakatla Aquatic Resources, I have been scoping the realm of feasibility to understand what governance structures, business models, and project plans could lead to local positive outcomes through restorative ocean farming.
The main goal is to provide access to wholesome local seafood while reducing the energy inputs, space requirements, and environmental impacts of food production. I also hope that we can lay a foundation for this program that encourages community connection to the environment and to one another, which can help further diversify the local job market and marine economy. By building on Coastal Shellfish’s success in shellfish aquaculture, we are working to design a program that respects Coast Tsimshian heritage and territory and supports the community into the future.

The benefits

Shellfish aquaculture produces delicious protein that is healthy for humans and the environment. Kelp aquaculture regulates oceanographic imbalances and provides habitat for other species while it grows into nutritious food, and a product with a variety of other uses. When grown in combination, these species create a restorative ocean farm that becomes a nutritious, delicious, and sustainable combination.

Shannon Lough photo

Taylor Reidlinger stands inside Coastal Shellfish’s algae microbrewery in Prince Rupert, B.C. (SHANNON LOUGH/ECOTRUST CANADA)

Seeding the ocean

Now that the realm of what is possible has started to develop, I will be working toward setting up test plots, engaging further with community members and knowledge holders, and continuing to find ways to mitigate any potential roadblocks to success. By the end of summer, we hope to start our Coastal Shellfish pilot program – seeding the ocean with species that will grow to demonstrate what local seafood could be produced in a larger long-term, financially self-sustaining program.
The Mitacs–NCIL opportunity has enabled this partnership and the exploration of an idea that has, until now, rested only in the hopeful minds of community members.

From theory to practice

Working as a project manager on an initiative in its early stages has been an amazing professional learning experience for me. While working on the project, I’ve also completed coursework toward my Master of Science degree in Environment and Management. I’ve been able to apply the theory of sustainable community development coursework directly into this real-world scenario.
This type of coursework has synced beautifully with the Ecotrust Canada social innovation lab model – where theory is applied to practice – and learning from the resulting effects helps us to progress closer toward intended outcomes where community members act as stewards in a changing world.

—————————————————————————————————————–

The North Coast Innovation Lab internships are made possible through support from Mitacs Canada.

READ MORE: The Spirit of Innovation

Electronic monitoring (EM) has been in use as a fisheries management tool for more than a decade. And what started out 8 years ago as a way for Ecotrust Canada to meet the needs of a BC fishery partner for a cost effective EM system, has now grown into the launch of a new social enterprise – Teem Fish Monitoring Inc.

Meeting a community need

With electronic monitoring, onboard computers record data from video cameras and GPS sensors to give fishery managers a detailed view of harvests and prevent overfishing and illegal practices. But most EM systems are cost-prohibitive for smaller fishing operations. So in 2010, with our deep expertise in sustainable fisheries management and hearing the community need for a more cost-effective alternative, Ecotrust Canada partnered with the Area A Crab Association in Prince Rupert, BC to innovate and develop an EM service of its own.

By building our own technology, we developed a system that was both cost effective and could be adapted for almost any fishery, with the goals of improving communities’ ability to pursue environmentally and economically sustainable livelihoods. By fostering partnerships with other local organizations over the years, our EM service has expanded to monitoring more locations and fisheries across Canada and the U.S., providing services to a mix of fish harvester associations and sectors, First Nations fisheries, and federal government agencies.

Partnering for world-class technology

Due to concerns over fisheries sustainability, the seafood industry faces increasing regulation, and there is the global recognition that most, if not all, fisheries should move towards some level of monitoring and auditable reporting. By launching our EM service into a new social enterprise this year, Teem Fish Monitoring Inc. can continue to grow in its mission to provide world-class electronic monitoring technology to local fisheries at an affordable price.

Instead of continuing with our own in-house technology though, Teem Fish Monitoring has formed a partnership with Snap Information Technologies Ltd. from New Zealand, who are world leaders in their field and who share the same values-based business model. This will allow our EM service to expand globally and to meet the growing demand for innovative high-tech fisheries monitoring technology that is effective, affordable, and practical for fish harvesters to deploy.

Expanding our fisherman-focused, mission-based model

“We are incredibly proud of keeping our focus on the needs of fish harvesters, providing them with accessible, affordable and appropriate monitoring services to meet their regulatory requirements,” says Amanda Barney, General Manager of our Marine Monitoring Initiative for the last seven years, and now CEO of Teem Fish Monitoring. “At the same time, they get robust data that empowers them to take a lead role in fish stock sustainability and habitat conservation.”

For over 20 years, Ecotrust Canada has been building practical economic solutions to drive better social, cultural and environmental outcomes – particularly those that help local communities share in the management of, and benefit from, local natural resources.  

This is the fifth for-profit entity that Ecotrust Canada has launched, where we enable our strategic initiatives to grow outside the confines of the charity and to scale impact by entering the marketplace. We’re excited to launch Teem Fish Monitoring, and see it continue to grow beyond our borders as a successful commercial enterprise.

To learn more, visit teem.fish (full website still in development)

Our new Director of Climate Innovation, Joseph Pallant, shares about the current carbon challenge facing Canada and the innovative forest carbon solutions he’s working on to help take climate action.

Managing our forests is key

Canada is falling well behind when it comes to meeting our climate target of a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 – a target reduction of 220 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year (tCO2e/yr). Even rosy projections show us at only reaching a 19% reduction. This January’s release of the National Carbon Inventory marks the first time Canada has included forest carbon in its official reporting. Even so, managed forests will only generate net emissions reductions of 29 million tCO2e/year in 2030. Surely we can manage our vast forests to take a bigger bite out of climate change than that?

All this highlights a powerful imperative for us at Ecotrust Canada to help build community-led climate action through the sustainable management, restoration, and conservation of Canada’s forests.

 

Our 3-pronged approach

  • Community action is at the core of our work with First Nations, rural and resource-dependent communities. Our initial priority on this front will be continuing Ecotrust Canada’s long-standing work in the North East Superior region of Ontario to support First Nations communities in enabling community-led climate action, with an emphasis on forest carbon management on their traditional territories.
  • Our infrastructure and policy work strives to unlock the climate action created by Canada’s 2017 inclusion of forest carbon in the National Carbon Account. For the first time ever, increases or decreases in carbon stored in Canada’s managed forests will be reported as part of our national “footprint” to the United Nations and the Paris Agreement. This appropriately puts forest carbon emissions on par with fossil fuel emissions as both a problem, and a solution. Our vision at Ecotrust Canada is to connect on-the-ground emissions reductions that arise from improved management of forests to the Canada’s National Carbon Account, creating a “dashboard” that allows government policy makers to clearly register landscape carbon impacts. This will give governments an entirely new, cost effective, path for investment into sustainable, community-led, forest carbon management startegies across Canada.
  • Blockchain for climate, as Ecotrust Canada has developed a partnership program with the Blockchain for Climate Foundation to put Canada’s National Carbon Account on the blockchain. This will be the initial national deployment of the Foundation’s work to “put the Paris Agreement on the blockchain,” connecting the national carbon of the world to enable cross border collaboration on emissions reductions.

In building continuity across community action projects, transparently connecting those projects to Canada’s National Carbon Account, and linking Canadian projects to the carbon markets of the world through blockchain technology, we’re proud to be innovating a new way forward for Ecotrust Canada to impact one of the greatest challenges of our time.

The Amp, a coworking space in Downtown Vancouver, was launched in 2014 as a social enterprise by Ecotrust Canada. What started as a solution to a need for affordable office space, has grown into a thriving community of mission driven organizations creating impact across Canada.

Over the last 10 years, not only have residential rental rates increased in Vancouver, but so have commercial and office spaces. During the last 5 years The Amp has provided an affordable home for over 20 different organizations and more than 100 individuals from a wide range of organizations, each creating impactful work socially or environmentally. Members are supported daily by the Coworking Community Manager to help develop inter-member collaborations, build relationships and help with day to day tasks.

Coworking with co-workers

Two words with important differences (other than just the hyphen). Co-workers have the same employer, while coworkers work in the same location. Having both at The Amp is advantageous as individuals can get support from their colleagues (co-workers) and also benefit from shared knowledge and resources from within the community of different organizations sharing the work space (coworkers).  An example of this was seen over the summer when two of our members Light House Sustainable Building Centre and Catalyst Community Developments Society were able to share an intern. This provided the student with a broader range of work experience from different industries, and the organizations could share the cost and time between them.

RevAmp-ing office culture

Collaboration within organizations can be difficult, luckily The Amp’s Coworking Community Manager seeks to tackle this task by facilitating the networking process through hosting weekly Huddles to exchange news about projects and achievements, regular lunch & learns and of course – monthly pub nights!

Coworking spaces contain a mix of different work cultures and individual personalities that may not naturally mix outside of the space. We like to approach this as though conducting a cacophony of sounds into harmonic symphony that enables each unique organization to feed into a thriving coworking community.

Book a desk and join the community!

The Amp’s members are an inspirational community of change makers, and we are always on the look-out to welcome similarly driven organizations into our space. In the last year:

  • Spring have raised over $18 million for early stage impact businesses and launched Cohort 2 of their Impact Startup Visa (ISV) with 5 entrepreneurs who have moved to Vancouver.
  • Catalyst Community Developments completed their award winning project Madrona which provided 49 affordable housing units at 30% of Housing Income Limits.
  • Affordable housing developer, New Market Funds have invested in 49 units of affordable housing in Victoria, BC and have committed to invest in another 358 units in Vancouver.
  • Fellow member Light House celebrated the first-year anniversary of their circular economy program NISP and has contributed to helping notable green building projects achieve certification.

Interested to find out more? Feel free to drop by in-person, check out theampvancouver.ca or contact the Amp Coworking Community Manager at info@theamp.space for availability, rates and benefits.

 

 

Indigenous communities in British Columbia face a number of unique challenges related to housing and energy use that cause or exacerbate other social, economic, and environmental issues on reserves. With limited access to affordable fuel for these remote communities, coupled with poor quality housing, the proportion of household income needed to adequately heat their homes is significantly higher than the average BC resident.

Graham Anderson, our Energy Program Manager, shares more about the issue of energy poverty and his recent work to help find solutions.

Energy poverty has significant impacts

Early on in my work at Ecotrust Canada, I picked up an elderly hitchhiker from one of the remote Indigenous communities I was working with in the Interior of BC. On the ride, he told me the purpose for his trip – he was going into Lillooet to pay his BC Hydro bill, which was over $1,000 for just two months of electricity. He had usually heated his home with wood in the winter, but was sick this year and primarily relied on electric heaters instead. At the time I was shocked to hear about such a high electricity bill for a home with electric heat. Unfortunately, in the years since that encounter, I’ve learned that this experience is all-too-common in BC’s remote Indigenous communities.

Only about 40% of people living on-reserve in BC have access to natural gas to heat their homes – compared to 95% of other BC residents. This lack of access results in Indigenous communities having to transport more expensive fuels such as diesel or oil into their towns, increasing the heating cost for individual households who may already be struggling to make ends meet financially.

With this limited access to affordable fuels, low quality housing and, in some cases, no access to grid electricity, a typical on-reserve household is estimated to spend three times as much of their income* as the median Canadian household on meeting their basic energy needs. These excessively high energy costs exacerbate the social distress and impact of poverty on people, while inadequate heating systems lead to negative health impacts due to lower air quality and mold.

 

Heating efficiency solutions are available

We’ve seen that energy efficiency retrofits to home heating systems can really help families switch to cleaner fuels and dramatically reduce their energy costs. If done in partnership with Indigenous communities, these retrofits can also create new training and employment opportunities for local residents, as well as addressing their longstanding health, social, and environmental challenges.

Earlier this year, we worked in partnership with the Heiltsuk Tribal Council in Bella Bella, BC, to install heat pumps in twenty community homes. The heat pumps work like an air conditioner in reverse, collecting warmth out of the air and bringing it inside the home, typically using one third of the energy used to create the same heat by a furnace. The results of this pilot were impressive, saving about $300/month on average for the impacted residents. We were also very pleased to see community members trained and employed in installing and maintaining the new systems, creating new opportunities for local people and building local capacity to support the new equipment.

 

Barriers exist to taking solutions to scale

While clean energy solutions are available, unfortunately they are not happening at scale across Indigenous communities due to barriers to financing, vastly insufficient funding programs, and capacity constraints within communities.
So throughout 2018, we’ve been undertaking a program of research, exploration, and convening in order to gain a deeper understanding of the barriers in place, explore solutions that have been developed in other parts of Canada and the rest of the world, and validate the appropriateness of these solutions to the realities faced by Indigenous communities in BC.
I’m especially looking forward to planning a convening event with community leaders and policymakers in the coming months, to directly engage about the most appropriate solutions to the problem of energy poverty on reserves.

* This figure was estimated by Ecotrust Canada based on available data and project-based knowledge of typical community experiences. There are a wide range of household experiences and this estimate is intended to reflect a reasonable average.

Watch the video about the project here:


Thank you to Vancity Credit Union, Patagonia, and the Province of British Columbia for supporting this important project.

 

 

September 5th marks the International Day of Charity – established by the United Nations to recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. This day creates a time for us all to reflect and mobilize around how we voluntarily give our money, goods or time to those in need, either directly or by means of a charitable organization.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who make donations, big and small, in support of our vision of people and nature thriving together. At Ecotrust Canada, we are firm believers that the solutions to poverty lie in a hands-together approach, so that communities are equipped with the tools they need to create widespread prosperity. That means creating opportunities for meaningful work and prosperous livelihoods while also ensuring the health of our environment is sustained.

This short video shows the impact of one of our most recent projects, tackling housing and energy in partnership with the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, in the remote community of Bella Bella, BC. The results are impressive – reduced heating costs, improved air quality in their homes, and better health for their children.

If you believe in our vision, please consider a one-time or monthly donation to help us continue our vital work. Our Board of Directors has kindly committed to matching any new donations made during the month of September, up to a limit of $10,000 – doubling the impact of your money!

From coast to coast to coast, our work helps to transform communities into vibrant, sustainable and interconnected hubs of health, justice and security. It couldn’t happen without your support.

Thank you.

 

The standard model of housing on reserves is failing Indigenous communities, where a system of poorly built homes has resulted in overcrowding, disrepair, health issues and cultural degradation. A growing Indigenous population with a real need for a new approach to housing requires a reformulation of this problem and innovation in how housing is conceived, designed, planned and constructed.

Anthony Persaud, our lead researcher on Ecotrust Canadas Housing and Energy Initiative, shares his thoughts on his recent work to create a housing assessment framework as a tool for communities seeking to transform their housing systems to maximize local economic, social and cultural benefits for their communities.

Learning from communities

Housing projects offer incredible potential to achieve sustainable and equitable economic development, create meaningful livelihoods, and enhance individual well-being and cultural resilience in Indigenous communities. Developing the Framework for Assessing Community Housing Systems has been a major learning process. It’s a great example of how an initiative with a broad, national scope can be effectively informed and designed in its early stages with community input and participation.

In April of this year, Satnam Manhas, Ecotrust Canada’s Director of Forestry and myself set off on a BC-wide roadtrip to discuss housing with communities. We spoke with First Nation bands, National governments, Indigenous economic development corporations, forestry practitioners, and many others with both direct and indirect connections to housing. Our goal was to build awareness around this approach, strengthen partnerships, and to receive input from communities on the development of the Framework. The trip included thousands of kilometres of driving, an unexpected lunch of sea lion meat, a sit in a traditional pit-house style sweat lodge, and a dip in the Aiyansh hot springs in the stunning Nisga’a valley.

Tackling a housing crisis

The Framework was always considered an important part of the development of the Housing and Energy Initiative, but it wasn’t until we started visiting and speaking with communities specifically about this work that we realized just how important this initial activity really was.

Indigenous communities across Canada are simply overwhelmed by the housing crisis that they face, leaving little time or resources to look at the broader picture of housing and its connections to other processes occurring within and beyond their communities. All of the leaders that we spoke with realized the need for a different approach, but putting that need into action is a major challenge. The Framework we’ve developed achieves a first step, providing practical resources and information to help them assess their readiness for a self-determined housing system.

Building culturally inspired homes

There are many examples of Indigenous communities that are taking the lead on transforming housing, and we hope to build upon those examples moving forward. The cultural resiliency of Indigenous peoples is what has allowed them to remain and grow as distinct First Nations today despite 200 years of colonial policies aimed toward erasing such identities. The transformation of the Indigenous home succeeded in destroying the traditional domestic spaces of Indigenous peoples physically, but never in essence.

This indicates that solutions to the First Nation housing crisis in Canada must be built upon the cultural values and development visions of indigenous peoples themselves. With this approach, communities can build dignified, culturally inspired and sustainable housing in a way that also helps them build more resilient, thriving communities.

Our North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL) in Prince Rupert is bringing people together to try out new ways of creating lasting, positive change for both the economic and social systems of the community. The NCIL is focusing its first year on a small number of projects that already have some support or momentum in the community, but would benefit from new networks, additional human capacity, research, coordination and/or business thinking.

Project Co-ordinator Kara Herbert is a student in the Masters of Public Policy program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, doing an internship for the summer of 2018. Here she shares her work as part of the NCIL team, focusing on ways to enhance co-working, information sharing, and resource sharing in Prince Rupert.

Different groups have different needs

Our community engagement efforts highlighted that supporting entrepreneurs, which include home-based businesses and micro businesses, can be a powerful tool for economic resiliency and community well-being.

We’ve seen that there are many existing and thriving entrepreneurial training and educational programs in Prince Rupert, hinting at an emerging entrepreneurial spirit. However, it is also clear that there is a need for additional support, networks, and resources for individuals who complete these programs, so they don’t have to overcome the common challenges of starting a business by themselves.

The needs differ across different groups. The artistic community has expressed the need for professional development – workshops, business planning, online marketing, and connections to existing programs in order to grow. Some have also been interested in sharing resources such as studio space or certain tools.

The professional and online services community identified similar professional development needs, but also want a physical space to work from to bring about collaboration and networking opportunities. Many have used co-working spaces or incubators in other areas in BC and are seeing the need for one in Prince Rupert.

Solution-building with the community

Now that I have a base understanding of some of the needs here, I’m looking to the Project Advisory Committee and other community members to help craft what kind of initiative makes sense and may best benefit all kinds of entrepreneurs.

Building on this, we want to undertake a small pilot before the summer ends, and then have some more detailed aspects of a potential shared working space ironed out with concrete recommendations at the end of the summer.

It’s been amazing to approach this issue from the bottom up and co-create solutions with the community. And in working to build the foundation of this social innovation lab, I’ve found it so important to really embrace the uncertainty that comes along with an approach such as this. I think there will be many important lessons learned and knowledge shared as a result.

A welcoming place

Even though I’m only living in Prince Rupert for the summer, I’ve really been welcomed with open arms – there is a great sense of community here. I was born and raised in BC, and this is the first time I’ve gotten to explore the North. So, on weekends, we’ve been adventuring to surrounding glaciers, lava beds, towns, and islands – and spending weeknights playing baseball or paddling in the outrigger. It’s been a great experience living here, and I would encourage other young people to try it out too.