Ecotrust Canada wasted little time inaugurating their SFU/Ecotrust Canada social innovation field school interns into the various communities in Clayoquot and Barkley Sound to engage with community members and gain real-life examples for their four- month projects.

For four days in early October, these SFU MBA candidate interns joined Ecotrust Canada’s program manager, Satnam Manhas, for a series of meetings and discussions with various groups: Ahousaht First Nations and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations Chief and Council and their key administration staff, as well as important community leaders from Ucluelet and Tofino.

Each intern has a different project based on their interests and background.
Kartik Manghnani, whose past experience is in architecture, is poised to improve on previous work done on the green and culturally appropriate housing initiatives by identifying the various communities’ energy retrofit opportunities for their existing housing stock as a means of reducing the monthly utilities bills.

Complementing Kartik’s work is Gene Sun, whose passion is real estate. He is using his talents to focus on identifying funding opportunities for these communities as well as developing additional housing capacity.

Arjun Maruthi, whose background is in consulting, is working on a general framework for a cumulative impacts assessment for the triple bottom line which will enable communities to gauge the impact on existing industries when making a new decision.

Kristin McIlhenney, who is working with Aph-cii-uk Community Society, has a Masters in geography with a focus on the value-added wood products sector. Her goal as a former educator is to explore possibilities of creating training and possible educational opportunities through carving and other artisan work.

The interns felt that their trip was a “cultural meeting experience” that enabled them to better understand the possibilities as well as the challenges these communities face as they embrace development.

What was palpable for them was the great deal of respect and trust that Ecotrust Canada has built amongst in the region over the past two decades, enabling them to establish dialogue with the communities. They look forward to future visits to the area as well as building upon those relationships and continuing the rich conversations.