Impactful & Inspiring: Indigenous Social Innovation 2019
For National Indigenous Peoples Day, we’ve assembled a list of social enterprises, social labs, and research organizations that are Indigenous led and/or that demonstrate meaningful, impactful collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations. This list is by no means complete and we will continue adding to it as we learn about other enterprises and initiatives. We’ve included short summaries directly from the organizations’ websites and encourage you to visit the website and social media accounts of each initiative to learn more.
Kanuu is an Indigenous-led social enterprise that provides skill development, coaching, and ongoing support in entrepreneurship for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and beyond. Kanuu was designed to activate economic progress for Indigenous Peoples, provide incubation, acceleration and support to Indigenous entrepreneurs, and to provide an opportunity for Canadians to contribute in support of economic reconciliation.
A soon to be launched online and in-store retailer of Indigenous food production supported by the Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS) with goals of providing an income stream to VNHS to support the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of the urban Indigenous population of Vancouver while creating economic opportunities for Indigenous food producers.
A Winnipeg-based social lab that uses social innovation tools and processes to develop community-driven solutions for complex social issues such as poverty, homelessness, and racism. Their goal is to improve outcomes for young children in the Point Douglas community area.
A First Nation-led research centre based in the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University in Toronto. Privileging First Nation philosophy and rooted in community networks, Yellowhead is focused on policies related to land and governance. The Institute offers critical and accessible resources for communities in their pursuit of self-determination. It also aims to foster education and dialogue on First Nation governance across fields of study, between the University and the wider community, and among Indigenous peoples and Canadians.
A company that designs and manufactures genuine leather goods, apparel and accessories that elevate Indigenous women and girls by providing a connection to share stories and Indigenous knowledge, develop dynamic skills, and engage in meaningful work. Their designs are a catalyst to transform public perceptions of Indigenous women by sharing stories, conveying cultural teachings, building empathy, and accentuating We facilitate creative thinking, communication, and collaboration skills through a community design process that help transform our designs.
Their Red Purse Collection “was launched to shed light on the reality of MMIWG and was inspired by Jamie Black’s REDress Project — an installation art project — which serves as a visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us. It serves to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Indigenous women, and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence.”
An Indigenous-led venture capital fund that works in partnership with Indigenous social enterprises to accelerate their success by providing access to capital and bespoke technical assistance, within an Indigenous cultural framework. Their objective is to help Indigenous entrepreneurs achieve their goals, strengthen the Indigenous economy, and have a positive and lasting impact on the ecosystem.
A project initiative that offers programming to empower Indigenous and community-based entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses and livelihoods across Northern Canada. EntrepreNorth is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform, which supports on-the-ground efforts to create uncommon solutions for the common good. Tides Canada is a national Canadian charity dedicated to a healthy environment, social equity, and economic prosperity.
This three-year collaborative project will create occupant-focused housing need assessments, determine local housing needs, support First Nations’ right to self-determination in their housing system, and develop housing action plans at the community and regional level. Centred around First Nations knowledge and lived experience, the Strategy will develop community relevant housing indicators in order to support and advocate for First Nations in the planning, governance and design of their housing systems. The NAN Housing Strategy will fulfill the right of access to adequate housing and end the collective housing emergency in NAN territory. NAN has partnered with Ryerson University’s Together Design Lab to develop this strategy.
As a social enterprise, inPath works with Indigenous communities to connect youth, community leaders, artists, and educators as they co-create arts-based programming, resources, and events that focus on youth creativity and empowerment. Their arts and music-based programs support student expression and encourage learning, sharing, and celebration. Through their N’we Jinan Mobile Production Studio, they’ve co-created music videos with youth, working with more than 600 young Indigenous artists in 60 Indigenous communities. N’we Jinan also also produced over 100 songs and 68 music videos. Its record label has signed Indigenous artists Mariame as well as The NorthStars.