The North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL) is a community-based social innovation lab in Prince Rupert – which essentially means a “place” for bringing people and organizations together to understand complex challenges within the community, and to work together to find lasting solutions. The NCIL works to empower the community to reclaim their economy to work for their residents, and not the other way around.
NCIL Manager, Nathan Randall, shares an update of how the NCIL is contributing to building a more resilient Prince Rupert, and where things are at as the initiative proceeds into its second year.
Year 1 was all about direction setting and building meaningful relationships within Prince Rupert. From November 2017 until December 2018, the community members co-developed the NCIL’s structure and focus areas, hired two project coordinators for four-month research and feasibility projects, and built foundations of knowledge on models for local seafood access and coworking space viability. We also co-organized several demonstration projects – namely, a seafood literacy workshop and a capacity-building workshop and market for small-scale entrepreneurs.
Year 2 of the NCIL is building on our past momentum to bring four projects to life with our first cohort of community partners and Masters student Project Coordinators. These initiatives, which all vary in their stages of development and area of focus, align with the NCIL’s community-directed objectives around resilience, inclusive and sustainable economic development:
- Taylor Reidlinger, MSc Environment and Management candidate with Royal Roads University, is working with Coastal Shellfish Corporation to conduct a Restorative Ocean Farming Feasibility and Planning project that aims to address food insecurity and sustainable seafood access.
- Morgan Sage, MA Geography candidate with Queen’s University, is working with Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society to develop a food production and distribution initiative as a means to educate and localize fresh produce for Rupertites.
- Jordan MacDonald, MSc Capacity Development and Extension candidate with University of Guelph, has teamed up with Hecate Strait Employment Development Society to research and pilot an employment social enterprise project, providing a bridge between employment training, practical experience, and meaningful employment for HSEDS clients.
- Denise Gonzalez, MA Human Geography candidate with York University, is working with Redesign Rupert to better understand and enable downtown revitalization, in the form of pilot social programs and events that complement the larger shifts in municipal planning and investment around downtown Prince Rupert.
The NCIL team look forward to sharing their progress and project directions on Tuesday, April 30th at Coast Mountain College in Prince Rupert. This is an opportunity to inform the community of their work at large, and to gain valuable feedback and ideas from residents about how to better contribute to a more resilient community. Stay tuned for future updates from the four Project Coordinators about their experiences working and living on the North Coast!
~Nathan Randall, Project Manager North Coast Innovation Lab