» Prince Rupert Prince Rupert | Ecotrust Canada

 

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.

 

 

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 Rabia Ahmed is pursuing her Masters in Environmental Studies with a focus on Planning at York University, and halfway through a four-month internship in Prince Rupert. Here she shares her work as part of the NCIL team, focusing on feasible ways to increase access to the local fish and marine economy in Prince Rupert.

Identifying the need

Prince Rupert has a strong connection to its fishing history and culture, and yet we’ve heard from the community that opportunities to access fresh, local seafood are hard to come by. My work so far has focused on understanding why this disparity exists, and what can be done to address it. Conversations with community members, alongside insights gleaned from research into local priorities and case studies from other coastal towns, are beginning to paint a picture of why access to local seafood is so challenging.

A significant barrier is, of course, access to the resource itself – fisheries are closely monitored to ensure conservation of fish, especially species deemed to be at risk. This means that there is perpetually more demand than supply for locally caught seafood. The high cost for consumers; the relatively limited retail opportunities for buying seafood; and a lack of access to information on what to look for, how to prepare and ways to cook seafood are all barriers holding people back from enjoying this wild, local protein.

Piloting ideas

One of ways we’re assessing the needs of the community is through open discussions with the public. We carried out a small pilot at Cow Bay Days (a local street festival) on July 7th, where Dolly’s Fish Market set up a small outdoor fish market. The aim was to gauge the community’s response to outdoor fish sales and engage with more people about the barriers and potential solutions they would like to see in Prince Rupert to increase their access to local seafood.

Over 50 people came to speak to us – giving us their insights and even suggesting new ideas that we hadn’t thought of! It was a day of thoughtful discussions and emerging and exciting possibilities.  We now have more grassroots data to continue to guide project planning.

Working differently

The solutions to this issue will be determined by the needs and input of the community – that’s what the NCIL model is all about. I’m really enjoying this process, particularly the openness with which we get to approach these projects. The goal of the Social Innovation Lab model is not to come at the issue with assumptions and project ideas already in mind, but rather to draw on local insights, multiple perspectives, and research to guide the process. What this means in practice is that there is a constant zooming in and out on potential ideas. There is constant refinement and reflection, and lots of pivoting as new information becomes available. I’m learning to be comfortable sitting with the chaos that can occur with this less-structured approach, and letting the ideas and solutions emerge organically.

Rabia was invited to talk about her research on CBC Radio One BC’s show ‘Daybreak North with Carolina De Ryk’ – listen here.

Photo credit: Devlin Fernandes

 

Prince Rupert, a town of around 12,000 people in northern BC, has been historically dependent on resource-based activities and vulnerable to boom-and-bust economic cycles. It’s a microcosm for many remote communities dotted across Canada who are seeing increased unemployment as jobs move overseas, fewer benefits going to locals from the natural resources near them, the loss of young and educated people to urban areas, and seasonal employment.

But residents want to turn this around. To support this shift, Ecotrust Canada has initiated the North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL), which aims to bring local people together to try out new ways of creating lasting, positive change for both the economic and social systems of the community.

Our Project Manager, Nathan Randall, explains what this model of social innovation looks like, and how it’s getting started with the community.

Nathan, what is the North Coast Innovation Lab?

The NCIL draws on Ecotrust Canada’s learnings from eight years of community-based work in Prince Rupert and our award-winning LEDlab in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. While a strong economy is necessary to provide the employment and services needed by a community, the harder-to-measure aspects of a community – such as quality of life, culture, environmental health, and human connections – are also imperative to a community’s health and growth.

I can see that the NCIL will work to enhance collaboration across silos, sectors and cultures to align efforts and resources towards practical initiatives that will have triple bottom line impacts for the community. Unlike many economic development or civic engagement projects, the NCIL doesn’t have a specific structure or roadmap of outcomes – its role in the community and future impacts will emerge as the design-thinking process itself unfolds.

This may seem counterintuitive to some, but we believe that the best ideas for building local economies and communities come from the people and organizations that reside there. Our goal is to support Prince Rupert’s “movers and shakers” and their “game-changing” ideas by providing human capacity to advance ideas, a safe space for design and experimentation, and a supported process to develop and evaluate projects that enhance social and economic resilience.

How are you getting it started?

We spent 2017 figuring out if a North Coast Innovation Lab would be a good fit for Prince Rupert — whether we were in a position to add value to the existing initiatives and organizations in the community; could we bring capacity and attract funding to this work; and whether the social innovation lab approach was the right one. Our work, soul searching, and partnership discussions led us to the same place — yes.

The next step was to conduct over 40 community interviews with local leaders and community builders to help scope and design the NCIL. We want initiatives to complement the community development efforts already underway, not compete with them for resources, so listening and learning are key components of the NCIL. We published a report, Interview Reflections and Program Design, to share what we heard and what the scope of the NCIL will be moving forwards.

Most recently, I’ve been thrilled to hire two Project Coordinators to focus on our first projects:

  • Rabia Ahmed is pursuing her Masters in Environmental Studies with a focus on Planning at York University, and will be taking a deep dive into opportunities for access to the local fish and marine economy in Prince Rupert, and,
  • Kara Herbert is a student in the Masters of Public Policy program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and will be working in the NCIL to enhance co-working, information sharing, and resource sharing.

What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve learnt so far?

It’s been amazing to see how networked and connected people in Prince Rupert are, and how important those relationships are for both personal and professional reasons. That sense of community connection really acts as the glue that holds Prince Rupert together, and I love being a part of a community like that. The fact that my role in the NCIL is to strengthen those networks that already exist means my work is super rewarding. I’m excited for what’s to come, so stay tuned for more updates on the North Coast Innovation Lab!

Image: @chelseyellisphotography

It is your last chance to make a tax-deductible donation to Ecotrust Canada in 2017. End the year by showing your commitment to transforming communities into vibrant, sustainable and interconnected hubs of health, justice and security. With your support, we will develop, pilot and scale innovative economic solutions that promote environmental sustainability and social equity.

The holiday season has been busy and the New Year is at our doorstep.

Around the world and at home this has been a year of experiencing what is possible when people believe in a more equitable, sustainable and vibrant world – and come together in community to create it.  And it’s been a year of experiencing the consequences of inaction when we don’t.

Will you end 2017 with a commitment to be a part of the solution?

At Ecotrust Canada, we are committed to developing, piloting and scaling innovative economic solutions that support widespread community prosperity. We are demonstrating that when we embrace the connection between economy, environment and human wellbeing, we successfully support all three.

Please demonstrate your support by making a tax-deductible donation by the end of the day.

We have big plans for 2018. With your support, we’ll work to ensure that promising innovations developed and piloted in specific communities, become available to all communities. Together, we will take real steps towards a fair future where every parent has a job they feel good about, every child has the education they need, and every person has access to the basic ingredients for economic success without damaging themselves, their community or their environment.

Will you join us? Show your support by midnight to ensure we have the resources needed for 2018.

Today is your last chance to donate this year. End of the year with a commitment to help transform communities into vibrant, sustainable and interconnected hubs of health, justice and security.

Image: @chelseyellisphotography

In moments of quiet reflection, we can see through the messiness of this complex work to a fair future where every parent has a job they feel good about, every child has an education that sets them up for success and every person can access the necessities of life without damaging themselves, their community or their environment. Will you join us in realizing this vision?

The past few days have given us an opportunity to stop, breathe, reconnect with family and friends and reflect on all the incredible work we’ve done together in 2017.

Through our work in partnership with communities, we’re proving beyond doubt that when we embrace the connection between human, environmental and economic wellbeing, we can build fair economies and healthy communities that benefit us all.

In those moments of quiet reflection, we can see through the messiness of this complex work to a fair future where every parent has a job they feel good about, every child has an education that sets them up for success and every person can access the necessities of life without damaging themselves, their community or their environment.

As 2017 draws to a close, we renew our commitment to developing, piloting and scaling practical economic innovations to support that vision.

We know it’s possible because we’ve seen it emerge in communities where we work. Please join us.

There are only three days left in 2017 to add your name to the growing community of Ecotrust Canada donors committed to this work.

The opportunities for impact in 2018 are monumental – beginning with the historic review of the Canadian Fisheries Act – but we can only ensure the promising innovations developed and piloted in specific communities become available to all communities with your support.

Close your eyes. Imagine a future where new economic models transform our communities into vibrant, sustainable and interconnected hubs of health, justice and security. Together, we can achieve this.

Please make your tax deductible donation to Ecotrust Canada before midnight December 31st.

Join the wave of new Ecotrust Canada monthly donors who believe that when we embrace the connection between economy, environment and human wellbeing, we successfully support all three.

Thank-you amazing Ecotrust Canada Community!

Through our work we’ve come to believe that it is absolutely possible to create fair, sustainable and resilient economies that support widespread community wellbeing.

We’re inspired to learn that you do too!

All month, we’ve been sharing stories about the impact of developing, piloting and scaling innovative economic solutions, and have asked for your support to help us take it to the next level in 2018.

Your response is awesome!  New donors have signed up to support Ecotrust Canada. And existing donors have increased their contributions. Will you join us?

Like others around the world, we’ve witnessed how easily progress can be unraveled when viable alternatives to broken economic models aren’t readily available.

The Ecotrust Canada Community is stepping up. Together we are building and scaling those alternatives. In partnership with communities, we are demonstrating that when we embrace the connection between economy, environment and human wellbeing, we successfully support all three.

The coming year is stacked with critical opportunities to prove what’s possible – and with your support we will do just that!

The first big opportunity in 2018 is already here – we’re getting ready to contribute to a historic review of the Canadian Fisheries Act. Because this once in a generation opportunity represents a critical chance to bring a decade’s worth of innovation and learning to a pivotal piece of policy that benefits us all, we want to leave nothing on the table.

Will you make a tax deductible donation in 2017 to be a part of the solution in 2018?

As a charitable non-profit, donations to Ecotrust Canada qualify for a charitable donation tax credit. Monthly donations received by midnight December 31st will matched by a generous donor and have double the impact.

And yes, you absolutely can make your donation in honor of friends or family. Because we agree that your support is a wonderful holiday gift.

At Ecotrust Canada, we work to develop, pilot, and scale innovative economic solutions that enable sustainable communities. This work is messy, imperfect, and complex, and we don’t tell enough of the stories of the lives that are changed by our work.

Starting today, we are going to change that by sharing more stories from the communities, partners, and individual people that we work with. We hope that these stories inspire you to join us on our mission to develop, pilot and scale innovate economic solutions that enable the emergence of sustainable communities.

In 2007 a group of fisherman on the West coast of British Columbia recognized the link between the loss of their vibrant fishing industry and the community’s socio-economic challenges. They wanted a solution for the fishery that put the wellbeing of community at the centre of the plan, and partnered with Ecotrust Canada to develop it.

Together, we built and piloted a Fisheries Licence Bank, based on a triple bottom line approach. We wanted a fishery that would keep the ocean and the community healthy – a fishery that would ensure parents had jobs, kids had opportunity and families stayed safe and stayed together. We built a model through which the community shares the risk and the benefit of the fishery, and the results were promising. Based on learnings from this work, we refined the model and created a toolkit for other fish harvesters or communities to replicate it.

In 2008, the government of Canada introduced a new program to help First Nations rebuild their commercial fisheries. The ‘Namgis Nation recognized the opportunity to leverage this program in support of their own, much larger vision for a healthy, vibrant community based fishery, firmly rooted in their identity as a seafaring nation. Ecotrust Canada, who had supported the ‘Namgis in the development of their fishery vision, partnered with the Nation to adapt and operationalize their own Fishery Licence Bank, Mama’omas, with the explicit mission of creating as many viable local fishing jobs and as much benefit across community as possible.

These initial successes proved the potential for a Fishery Licence Bank model rooted in a community vision. Since then, triple bottom line Fishery Licence Banks have been replicated from coast to coast to coast and are supporting the emergence of healthy, sustainable and resilient communities.

Despite these successes, we still have a very long way to go. Models like the Fishery Licence Bank have the power to be catalytic, but their full potential has yet to be realized. To realize their full potential, significant changes in policy and regulation are required.

In 2018, The Federal government of Canada is conducting an historic review of the Canadian Fisheries Act. With your support, we can bring a decade’s worth of innovation and learning to the review of this keystone legislation and the policies it will direct. Together, we can create lasting transformational change.

Ecotrust Canada is small non-profit that’s proving it’s possible to build fair, sustainable economies that reflect and support the community. With your support, Ecotrust Canada will continue to develop, pilot and scale economic innovations to build healthy, sustainable communities. Please join us as a monthly donor or make your one-time donation before Dec 31st.

Donations made before December 31st will be matched by an anonymous donor, doubling your impact.

Ecotrust Canada is dedicated to developing innovative economic solutions that promote environmental sustainability and social equity.

We’re on a mission to scale our impact.

For more than twenty years, we’ve been developing viable economic innovations based on our belief that healthy economies and resilient communities are built on the connection between human, environmental and economic well-being. And we’re going to keep doing that because our results are extraordinarily compelling.

Through our work in partnership with communities, we’re proving beyond doubt that healthy economies and resilient communities are built hand in hand, based on economic models that embrace the connection between human, environmental and economic well-being.

2017 has been a year of reflection and refinement. Like others around the world, we have witnessed how easily progress can be unraveled when viable alternatives to broken economic models aren’t readily available.

So now we are committing to scaling our impact to achieve systems change. Our work moving forward is to develop, pilot and replicate innovative economic solutions that enable the emergence of sustainable communities.

And since we’re scaling impact, we need to scale our donor base too!

So over the month of December, we’re going to be sharing stories of impact from our community, stories that prove the possibility of building sustainable, resilient economies that work for community, and stories that we hope will inspire you to become an Ecotrust Canada Monthly Donor.

And since we’re scaling things, we will also scale the impact of your donation!  Until December 31st, a generous match donor will double your gift.

There are unique and momentously important opportunities to scale impact through policy reform and community engagement in 2018. We are committed to pouring our energy into maximizing this moment. So please, help us scale our donor base too by making a one time or monthly donation today.

PR - Nov 7th

Ecotrust Canada’s Prince Rupert team, from left to right: Devlin Fernandes, Gerry Riley, Amanda Barney, and Chelsey Ellis.

Good fisheries planning and equitable community development hinges on accurate and accessible numbers. Will a recent federal move to expand public access to fisheries data move the needle?

Last week, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced it would open up public access to currently-hidden stats on the state of the nation’s larger fish stocks and fisheries.

Since information democracy is one of the cornerstones of our work at Ecotrust Canada, we wanted to find out what Ottawa’s move will mean for harvesters, resource managers, communities, and those who support them. We spoke with Devlin Fernandes, senior manager of programs in our four-person Prince Rupert office, to learn about why healthy fisheries and resilient communities rest on a sea of data.

Is the government’s move to open up fisheries data going to make your work easier?

Yes. Information democracy is one of Ecotrust Canada’s key principles—we believe people need good information to make informed decisions. We welcome increased transparency and the greater availability of data, because data underpins many of the decisions that communities have to make when they think about the future of their fisheries. So on that front, I am very hopeful. This is a good step in the right direction, and we do see this announcement as exciting and very welcome.

What part of this announcement makes you go “hmmm?”

Well, we don’t yet know what exact information is going to be made available, and how useful it will be. For example, there will be a survey once a year and there will be 17 questions across fish stocks. It’s not clear if we can see the data behind those questions, and if we will be able to really dig into the data.

In the Skeena region, Skeena and Nass sockeye are rolled up as one piece of DFO data. In reality, there are more than 30 different conservation units of genetically distinct sockeye populations that are all managed differently in the Skeena. So while we are looking forward to more information on the data, it’s unclear how detailed it will be.

Why is data important for fisheries?

Data is essential for fisheries—in understanding historical trends, managing current stocks, and making decisions about the future. What does the future fishery look like? How can the community best support its fishermen? What are the potential impacts of climate change, markets, and stock fluctuations, and how can we best mitigate those impacts? Fishermen, fisheries managers, and community members all want to be part of this discussion, and accessible and accurate data is key.

There are many types of data—collected by DFO, academia, the fishing industry, monitoring programs, stock assessment programs, socio-economic data, traditional knowledge, and harvester collected data—all is important to understanding the complexity of fisheries.

Why is data democracy important to your work?

The importance of sustainable resource management is unquestioned; so, too, is the need to involve diverse interests in policy making and decision making. However, in order to have open, transparent, and inclusive management, there needs to be access to the data upon which decisions are made. Data needs to be accessible & shared to understand what factors are at play in decisions that impact livelihoods, resources, and the health of communities.

Why is your approach working?

Across our programs, we work hard to build relationships and the trust of our partners. In the Skeena region, we entered this space at the invitation of the community—municipalities, First Nations, regional districts, and fishing industry associations. We supported the Sustainable Marine Fisheries & Communities Alliance (SMFCA) to develop a vision and a strategic plan, and we have been supporting elements of that plan and moving it towards implementation. We also used the Fisheries Diversification Model to make commercial fisheries data accessible.

What sets your team apart from others who work on fisheries issues?

We have technical expertise and deep fisheries knowledge, and experience working with harvesters, regulators, and community monitoring programs developing data-collection systems. Anyone can have technology, but to really make it work and make it useful to decision makers, we need to make sure it is accurate and trusted by a wide range of parties.

How does ready access to historical data help you support coastal communities?

We created the Fisheries Diversification Model, which is a decision support tool that allows a community to plan for resilient fisheries, and explore historical and current fisheries data to build and compare scenarios. The tool combines local information with typically hard-to-find federal data. To build it, we tracked down and compiled 15 years of federal catch records along with cost data, licence information, and ex-vessel prices. Users can explore changes in harvested weights and earnings in each fishery over time to inform their understanding of what’s going on out there today. It was really challenging to access that historical fisheries data.

Are you seeing other governments embracing transparency and open government?

The British Columbia government has made big efforts to increase the amount of data it has released publically. Governments are also really trying to balance access to data with very valid privacy and security concerns, using the Party of Three rule. B.C. has created a Marine Conservation Analysis. There is a limited ability to download and play with the data, but it does allow people to better understand what is happening with our land and resources. It is a step in the right direction.

What’s the biggest barrier?

Really, its capacity—both on the human and resources front. Provincial and federal departments across Canada have been really strapped vis-a-vis what they can do. For instance, there is a long tradition of stream walking—a patrolman will go out and walk a stream to count how many spawning salmon, and of what species. That helps them understand the timing of the run, what particular fish are coming back, and also in what abundance. If you had a great return and high abundance, you could predict what will be happening down the road. When dollars get cut, that’s the kind of thing we lose. Whether governments continue to to do this, or it transitions to community monitoring programs, people and resources are needed for good data collection.

What should the federal government do next?

I look forward to more details on the announcement, and seeing exactly what data – and in what forms – become accessible. I hope that this announcement doesn’t supercede the existing data requests that are already in the queue, as people and organizations continue to make requests for datasets to support their planning discussions. It’s encouraging that more data is becoming directly accessible, but people should not have to wait years to get the info that they need to make better planning decisions today.

 

Further reading:

Will new open data portal help information democracy?” Ecotrust Canada, July 2013
Fishing forFacts: Barriers toAccessing FederalFisheries Data inBritish Columbia,” Ecotrust Canada, 2008.

 

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Birds Convention, the Canada-USA treaty that has been protecting wild migratory birds for a century. To celebrate, the Pacific Flyway Ambassadors were in Prince Rupert, BC and we joined them at Lucy Island, an oasis for the 25,000 pairs of Rhinoceros Auklets that breed there each year.

We are celebrating our own partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment Canada & Climate Change). For the past five years, as part of our Catch Monitoring & Biological Sampling program, we’ve collected data on encounter rates with seabirds when Observers are on the water to begin to understand if, when, where, and how seabirds get caught in fishing gear. At Lucy Island, we shared this work and some of our other Ecotrust Canada projects, building a sense of place, ecosystems, and people that make this region special. Talking about fishing and what it brings to the communities on the coast; Observers; and the importance of monitoring and management led to great questions from the Ambassadors.

The Lucy Islands Conservancy is jointly managed by BC Parks and local First Nations, and besides the thousands of birds, the area is important because of the food resources, cultural values and archaeological sites, and beacon for navigation. The lighthouse has been standing for 110 years, and tulips were in bloom, the forgotten remnants of past light keeper’s garden. However, that is only a blip in the timeline compared to the history of local settlement. The Tsimshian can link the lineage of living members to the remains of a 5,500-year-old-female that were excavated from an ancient settlement site on Lucy Island.

Respecting the Tsimshian, collaboration and partnership for data collection, and promoting the importance and benefits of using local resources and capacity for monitoring will continue to guide our work in the Skeena. For the auklets, they will return soon to their earthly burrows – which are up to eight feet long and underground!

 

Devlin Fernandes is Senior Manager of Programs and heads our Skeena office.