Student Energy has recently launched a report on insights from the Energy Transition Skills Project!

In 2022, Student Energy launched the Energy Transition Skills Project, in partnership with Orsted, to learn what young people are looking for in a job and what barriers they face to employment in the energy transition. This newly launched report shares valuable insights and recommendations for both youth and energy actors on how they can better support youth skills development and employment in the energy transition. Below are a few key insights from the report:

  • Youth respondents chose purpose of work, salary and compensation, and opportunities for growth as their top three priorities when looking for a job.
  • The most commonly selected barriers that respondents face include a lack of awareness about existing job opportunities (47.6%), lack of available entry-level positions (46.0%), and lack of access to skills training (44.9%).
  • The majority of respondents (64.8%) believed skills-building programs would help them learn the necessary skills to pursue energy transition jobs. The second most common answer was internships, co-ops, or work-learn opportunities (54.8%).

Read the full final report for more global insights, regional and demographic insights, and Student Energy’s recommendations to act on these findings here.

Student Energy is a global youth-led organization empowering young people to accelerate the sustainable energy transition, engaging 50,000+ young people in over 120 countries.

Head to their website to learn more about how you can get involved in their programming.

Thomas Griffin Owens (they/them), who goes by their middle name, embodies the idea that there really is more than one way of thinking and being in the world. And with passion and support, that can be okay—in fact, it can turn out to be more than okay. With their Instrumentation Engineering Technology diploma completed, the young graduate attended Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Moose Jaw convocation ceremony on June 8 having already started a career working with systems technology firm Convergint in Regina.

“Way back in elementary school I was diagnosed with Asperger’s,” explains Owens. “The big thing for me is that I’m really good with logical processing and pattern recognition, but motor skills and social skills are harder.” Owens’ mother, Tiffany, recalls noticing differences in her child early on. “I work in education and have a background in support services for kids with challenges, but I kept saying, ‘It’s nothing, it’s just a phase.’ I finally recognized that it was more than that. Griff was diagnosed with autism comorbid with ADHD.”

Tiffany lovingly describes Owens as being a bit like the character Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, with a few Amelia Bedelia traits that caused funny misunderstandings while they were growing up. As a young person, Owens scored high on IQ tests in some areas and extremely low in others. They only recognized three emotions, and their reduced executive functioning meant that they struggled with time management and other basic life-functioning skills.

Owens’ family spent countless hours working on everything from time management to communications, including reading body language and understanding idioms and metaphors. “Autism is often described as a linear disorder,” she says, “but in fact it’s more pie shaped. Someone with autism can have real strengths in one area and huge challenges in another.”

One of Owens’ strengths was taking things apart and analyzing them. “At Disneyland when all the other kids were enjoying rides Griffin was 100 per cent focused on the center pole of the carrousel,” recalls Tiffany. “Griff was figuring out how it worked. Griff was that kid. We’d get a phone call from the school to tell us the pencil sharpener had been taken apart and I’d say, ‘Oh, sorry! Griffin is just really curious.’”

It wasn’t clear to Tiffany and her husband Mike what their child’s path would be, and imagining life as a fully launched adult wasn’t easy. “Griffin struggled with peer relationships in elementary school,” she remembers. “Kids were mostly kind, but friendships were fleeting. You just hope your kids find their people once they hit high school.”

As hoped, Owens found peers with a common interest in robotics, a passion that made high school more fun and relevant. “I like working with my hands,” says Owens, “but I also like technical, theoretical problems.” When considering post-secondary options, they thought they should pursue electrical engineering technology. “Finding my way to instrumentation was kind of an accident,” Owens explains. “I attended a Sask Polytech open house and the program head got talking to me and steered me towards studying instrumentation because that program really matched my interests.”

Owens started the three-year diploma program in Fall 2020 immediately after graduating from Moose Jaw’s Vanier Collegiate. They describe their first few semesters in pandemic lockdown as a bit of a trial by fire. “There were 40 or so people in the program and all I saw were profile pictures on Zoom. That was hard. Once we started in person it was a lot of work but a way better experience. Instrumentation is very hands on and rather than just learning about a pneumatic controller we got to take one apart.”

Owens soon gained a reputation for finishing three-day labs in three hours. Tiffany remembers the new Sask Polytech student coming home unexpectedly from class and it took her a while to accept that Owens was on top of things and had simply finished the day’s work. Owens recalls working with an older student with previous trades experience on a lab early in the program: “We had to diagram how to connect pneumatic lines in a certain way to make sensors work and he kind of brushed me aside and said, ‘I’ll handle this.’ He spent 15 minutes staring at the problem until I finally asked if I could show him. It took me 15 seconds to draw.”

Nearing the end of the program Owens was paired with another student, Curtis Dammann, for their capstone project. The two came up with a solution to a problem faced by Dammann’s co-operative work term employer, Yara Canada. Their Belle Plaine fertilizer operation uses a large tripper car to move fertilizer along a track, but the car’s parts were frequently under repair due to sudden termination under heavy loads. Owens explains, “We came up with a solution that uses a variable frequency drive to slow down the car as it nears the end of its track, kind of like putting it through molasses. We were able to demonstrate how using this solution would save time as well as maintenance and parts costs. It would pay for itself within days.”

The project got the attention of instructor Babith Varghese, who encouraged Owens and Dammann to submit their work to several competitions and to pitch the idea to Yara Belle Plaine, a nitrogen fertilizer facility for Yara. The pair were rewarded for their effort, taking second place and an $800 prize in the technology division of the Sask Polytech Applied Research Student Showcase. Kyle Nicolay, the electrical and automation supervisor at Yara Belle Plaine, attended the showcase and expressed a keen interest in their work.

“I was very proud of the work Griffin and Curtis did on this project,” says Varghese. “It was exciting to have Yara visit the showcase and their rep even mentioned the possibility of implementing the solution across multiple sites. That’s potentially a big step beyond a typical capstone project outcome.”

Owens looks back on his time at Sask Polytech and is happy with how it went. “I was the second youngest in my program and I’m also non-binary. We weren’t all the same, but people were really accepting once we got to know each other,” Owens says. “The instructors want to help you graduate and demonstrate that, ‘If you come to me for help, I will help you.’ Other students in the program saw me as a logical spark, so they understood that if I asked for help, I really needed it and often I was able to be a resource for them in other areas.”

Tiffany is equally happy with the outcome. “We never wanted to limit Griffin,” she says. “We met with Sask Polytech’s student support services and they connected us with a few technology tools and funding for a laptop with special programs to help with motor skills issues. They created an accommodation plan, but in the end the instructors built in extra time and Griff didn’t need to access that service.”

“Griffin really surprised us. Because he found something that matches his passion and found the support he needed, it’s allowed him to build self-confidence to gain the skills required to do the other things he finds more challenging. He’s learned to adapt and overcome some of his challenges and although some of them will be struggles for life, he’s discovered how to live with them and find success. We are incredibly proud of Griffin and all the work accomplished these past few years. We are excited to see where this education will lead.”

Post-graduation, Owens is living on their own, working for Convergint (the co-operative education employer they proved themself with over two work terms) and demonstrating that, with support and hard work, being yourself can take you far.

Last fall, Shelia Grantham and Kerry Potts began working as Indigenous Pedagogy and Curriculum Consultants at Algonquin College in the Learning and Teaching Services (LTS) department in Ottawa, Ontario. The goal of LTS is to foster a culture of teaching innovation and excellence and build relationships with faculty, academic schools and Applied Research that support strategic collaboration, pedagogical and technological exploration, and ideas sharing. As part of their mandate, Grantham and Potts, in their roles with LTS will further advance the TRC’s Calls to Action relating to Indigenous education.

Since then, connections, relationships and partnerships have been created with local communities, organizations, student services, schools, deans, chairs, faculty, professors, instructors, and students, as well as other post-secondary institutions throughout Canada.

“There are different ways the college needs to be interconnected that’s it’s not,” Potts said. “We are looking at connecting the Mamidosewan Centre (for Indigenous students) with the Office of Truth and Reconciliation, and the Office of Applied Research with the Critical Pedagogy group to build lines of communication and open up possibilities for collaboration that may seem unconventional.” Indigenizing means “shaking things up a bit in terms of the systems that are in place.” She said people she and Grantham have met with are supportive and open to these ideas.

Grantham and Potts have conducted professional development sessions for faculty discussing Indigenous student experiences, they have spoken about how to talk about residential schools in classrooms. They have shared research ethics that is grounded in Indigenous community practice, and they have also shared how to integrate Indigenous resources into courses and encourage professors to create Indigenous-focused learning outcomes. Another session is planned for this fall related to treaty responsibility and land-based pedagogy.

Since they began their work, they have spoken to many teaching and non-teaching faculty and staff throughout the College. They are currently working with various faculty to redesign the Aboriginal Studies program, Bachelor’s of Child and Youth program, the Indigenous Pre-Apprenticeship Culinary program and the Forestry program, by incorporating Indigenous content within the curriculum, exploring possibilities for integrating land-based pedagogy and engaging Indigenous communities, and aligning program and course learning outcomes to Indigenous values and priorities.

In addition, Grantham and Potts conduct regular learning sessions open to all employees on campus. This includes the monthly Tea, Teaching and Bannock gatherings, professional development sessions to build cultural safety in classrooms and expand knowledge on Indigenous topics and organize guest speakers and panels. They also provide online training like the Indigenous Teaching & Learning Bundles on BrightSpace, and by providing support and learning during National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as Indigenous History Month.

“Because our roles are focused on supporting teachers, we want to encourage culturally safe ways to present material that is Indigenous-focused and share new ways of engaging students in a holistic way of teaching embodied by the Medicine Wheel,” said Potts. “The training you are doing has to disrupt people enough to make them reflect on the need to change what and how they are teaching. Braiding Indigenous models of education and Indigenous knowledges into our work enriches learning for all people and creates space for diverse ways of thinking and learning that have been overlooked.”

To learn more visit

On Sept. 30, 2022, The College, along with the Office of Truth and Reconciliation, decided to remember the children by commissioning a piece of art, a permanent reminder to remain on display in Ishkodewan. It will serve as a gathering place for reflection and spark conversation in learning more about this disturbing part of our history. Local metal artist Barry Ranger created a metal sculpture that captures many traditional Indigenous elements, including nurturing plants like corn, beans, squash and the spiritual and healing plant of tobacco, interwoven together with empty children’s moccasins, to remind us of the children who were failed by the residential school system. It is a stark reminder of the children who never made it home from those schools and those who still live with that tragic legacy.

Watch  a short video showcasing the sculpture.

Quick Train Canada is a collaborative project between the Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2) and 14 colleges, cégeps, polytechnics and institutions. With funding from the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program (SWSP), the project launched in February 2023 to help equip Canadian workers with the necessary skills to lead the shift to a green economy.

As we lay the foundations for a new and greener economy, we must acknowledge that the strength of the foundation does not only come from the skills we provide our workers, but it also relies on providing all Canadians an equitable chance at being involved in our workforce and reconciling with those who have been historically excluded when building economic systems.

One of the priority groups Quick Train Canada has been working to bridge sector gaps with are Indigenous communities. The 94 Calls to Action (CTAs) released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) outline the following as a CTA for businesses:  

CTA #92: We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

i. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.

ii. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.

iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

To begin addressing CTA #92, Quick Train Canada is currently offering four fully-funded microcredentials through Red River College Polytechnic (RRCP) and Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Sask Poly) in Indigenous relations and business development, with more coming soon. The current courses are:

  1. Engagement and Relationship Building with Indigenous Communities,
  2. Indigenous and Canadian Government Relationships,
  3. The Consultation Process, and
  4. Indigenous Business and Entrepreneurship.

Through these microcredentials, over 750 learners from across the country are being provided the knowledge and tools to better understand the laws, principles, policies and obligations to work towards reconciliation, such as the UNDRIP, the stages of the consultation framework, the skills to relationship-building and engagement with Indigenous communities and the history and heritage of Indigenous businesses as well as the challenges of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

 “Accessible microcredentials are one of many approaches being developed to provide Canadian workers with the understanding of the history, policies and tools that will strengthen the relationship between businesses and Indigenous communities and stimulate the growth of Indigenous entrepreneurship in a low-carbon green economy,” said RRCP Vice-President, Academic, Christine Watson.

More broadly, microcredentials offered through Quick Train Canada are developed to address upcoming sectoral needs as identified by industry partners, and the ease of access to high-value training ensures that more Indigenous people are gaining the expertise that will allow them to flourish in a net zero economy. Approximately 6.9 per cent of respondents to a project-run survey targeting all learners enrolled in Quick Train microcredentials have self-identified as part of an Indigenous group, developing skills in areas of agriculture and agri-food, construction, clean tech, transportation and natural resources and environment.

Quick Train Canada is looking forward to continue working with post-secondary institutions and industry sectors across the country to make skill training more accessible and help advance the TRC’s Calls to Action as it related to business and education.

Microcredentials are smaller courses with huge potential to enhance learning opportunities while fitting into any busy schedule. This expedited way of learning offers self-guided content that will both engage and inspire. Indigenous peoples across Canada have demonstrated their diverse approaches to using resiliency in leadership. The Indigenous Business and Entrepreneurship microcredential offers a national perspective of leadership styles incorporated into Indigenous communities with respect to business and entrepreneurship and the promotion of good relations.

Dalton Mervold, Sask Polytech Indigenous Leadership Program Head, and Dion Tootoosis, Indigenous Business and Entrepreneurship Microcredential Instructor

For almost 50 years, (Est. 1976) the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) has been growing its programs and services to support the individual goals of over 66,000 alumni representing all 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. As one of only four accrediting post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan and the only Indigenous institution in that number, it is all the more important that SIIT’s programs are developed with service to community at their center.

Indigenous worldview is foundational to all curriculum development and that commitment can be seen in programs as diverse as the Mental Health & Wellness Program that supports National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) members and counsellors in First Nation communities to the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering program that ensures rural and remote communities have safe and reliable essential transportation routes.

SIIT is no stranger to program evolution but in 2021, the Institute adopted a bold new direction focusing on the creation and support of an Innovation ecosystem provincial in scope to ensure Indigenous people were not just participating in the new technology economy but driving it!

This included the development of pawâcikêwikamik: the Innovation Collective. Not just an accelerator on incubator but a collection of community-driven initiatives in STEAM, entrepreneurship and developing technologies created by First Nations for First Nations. Over the past two years, this collective has grown to include a Mobile Makerlodge with six tech kits delivered and supported in First Nations for community-based projects, youth camps, an Auntie-in-Residence program, Micro-grants for entrepreneurs, a credit entrepreneurship program, and this month, the launch of the pawâcikêwikamik: the Nutrien MakerLodge and the pawâcikêwikamik: Canadian Tire Collaboration Space. Situated on the 1st Floor of SIIT’s downtown Saskatoon Campus, these spaces and services support entrepreneurs through the full development process of their businesses. Entrepreneurs can access 3-D printing farms, glo-forges, hydroponics and a 19’ LED Video wall for film production.

This work could not have been possible without the support of Sustainable Development and Technologies Canada, Prairies Economic Development and Crown Investment Corporate, SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SaskTel and many more sponsors that committed to economic reconciliation through their partnerships.

Officially launching on June 27th, we welcome everyone in the C2R2 community to come to our Open House from 1-5 p.m. to play with some exciting tech and meet representatives of the 17 businesses started so far and the over 60 First Nations who have engaged in pawâcikêwikamik activities.

Salmon Arm – Okanagan College (OC) students preparing for careers as education assistants are benefiting from teaching that goes beyond what you learn from textbooks and in classrooms.

Earlier this spring, a seminar led by Dodie Jones, a member of the Splatsin te Secwépemc, introduced students in the Certified Education Assistant Program in Salmon Arm to the medicine wheel, its significance and meaning.

The workshop, titled Medicine Wheel and Traditional Teaching – Grounded in Culture, incorporated traditional teachings of the Secwépemc people and the teachings of the medicine wheel, which originates from the Prairies.

“It was an honour to be able to come to Salmon Arm campus and share the Medicine Wheel Workshop with the students,” said Dodie. “I am absolutely thrilled with the strong connection I was able to make and the impact it will have for these students as they go on to work with other children as their careers begin. The medicine wheel has been such an important part of my own healing and to share that knowledge of healing with others who will be working in schools here in our community is incredibly powerful.”

Dodie began each day of the two-day workshop with a telling of her history, her connection to the new Secwépemcúl’ecw (Secwépemc land), and why the medicine wheel has so much importance in her life and her own healing.

“The strength that Dodie imparted to these students was absolutely amazing,” said Mandie Belle, program coordinator with the CEA program at OC. “It was truly an honor to have Dodie share her knowledge and strength with all of us. Understanding the medicine wheel can help us integrate more indigenous knowledge into our lives and into curriculum.”

As part of the workshop, Dodie prepared a hand-sewn offering pouch for each student in the workshop, and guided students to add what was special to them in the pouch to remember their personal gifts and strengths. She also provided tea, cedar, sage, a special piece of the earth and all the colors of the medicine wheel.

“Dodie affirmed each individual student in their decision to pursue careers as education assistants and helped them see what they have to offer children in the classroom. It was a powerful and enriching experience for everyone that they’ll remember for years,” said Mandie.

The in-person seminar is part of Okanagan College’s ongoing commitment to reconciliation and working in partnership with Indigenous communities in the region.

The Certified Education Assistant Program is available in Salmon Arm as well as the Vernon, Kelowna, Revelstoke and Penticton Campuses and is additionally offered through distance education.

For more information:
Kevin Parnell, College Relations
Okanagan College
[email protected]

Dear Valued Readers,

At Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), we firmly believe in the power of data-driven research to make a real difference in supporting economic reconciliation. Our research department was established with a clear goal in mind: to fully understand Indigenous businesses and gather the data necessary to support them effectively. Our focus is on who they are, what they need, and how we can assist them in achieving success. This commitment to research is the backbone of our work, and we are passionate about using it to make a meaningful impact.

For almost four decades, CCAB has worked to foster sustainable connections between First Nations, Inuit, Métis businesses, and the Canadian business community. As a national, Indigenous-led non-profit organization, CCAB supports a diverse membership of over 2,200 Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses across Canada.

Over the past decade, our research team has embarked on a transformative mission, engaging with Indigenous business owners, corporations, government, and academic communities to provide invaluable insights into the emerging Indigenous economy.

Research with Impact

Through extensive projects and meticulous analysis of Indigenous economic participation, CCAB research has become a catalyst for change, working to bridge the gap between corporate Canada and Indigenous businesses. Our firm commitment ensures that Indigenous business owners and communities approach the Canadian business landscape with the knowledge needed for informed decision-making.

At CCAB, our research achievements have been both groundbreaking and impactful. Let’s explore some of the strong successes we have witnessed:

  1. Driving Policy Change: Our research provided the essential data and analysis to support the all-of-government goal of raising federal expenditure on Indigenous firms to 5%, in proportion to Canada’s Indigenous population. By advocating for equitable procurement, we pave the way for increased economic opportunities and empowerment.
  2. Empowering Indigenous Communities: CCAB research played a pivotal role in shaping Ontario’s progressive $95 million Indigenous Economic Development Fund (IEDF). This fund, informed by our research, makes targeted investments in Indigenous businesses and communities, propelling them toward sustainable growth and prosperity.
  3. Strengthening Partnerships: We have been instrumental in helping corporations across the country effectively engage with their Indigenous partners. Our insights foster better understanding, collaboration, and mutually beneficial relationships, driving shared success and sustainable economic growth.
  4. Improving Funding Initiatives: CCAB has engaged with over a dozen federal, provincial, and municipal ministries to enhance funding opportunities for Indigenous businesses. Our expertise and collaboration have influenced the development of new policies that promote community growth, ensuring Indigenous businesses receive the support they need to thrive.

The Indigenous Business Landscape

CCAB’s data holdings include a series of datasets from our Indigenous Business Survey conducted in 2010, 2015, and 2019, as well as a wide range of complementary studies. The Indigenous Business Survey collects data on Indigenous businesses, specifically who they are, what their experiences have been, and what they need for future growth and success to better understand the challenges that Indigenous businesses in Canada face. These national surveys are based on phone interviews with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis business owners, with an average of 1,100 respondents drawn from the CCAB membership as well as publicly available sources and directories.

Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada have experienced significant growth and demonstrate tremendous potential for expanding their economic footprint. According to CCAB, the number of Indigenous business entrepreneurs has steadily increased since 1996, with over 60,000 reported nationwide.

These businesses have established themselves in various industries, including natural resources, construction, manufacturing, retail, and services, with a notable presence in every province and territory. The 2019 national survey revealed that Indigenous entrepreneurs have significant operations in the service sector (54%), manufacturing sector (21%), natural resources (13%), and construction (12%).

Indigenous businesspeople also excel in innovation, as seen by the novel ways they apply culture and tradition to contemporary issues. A substantial 61% of surveyed entrepreneurs use either Indigenous Traditional Knowledge or Indigenous Cultural Expressions. In 2019, half (51%) introduced new technologies into their businesses. Additionally, just over half (54%) invested in research and experimental development or introduced new products and services.

Indigenous entrepreneurs are also expanding their horizons and venturing into international export, demonstrating their ambition and potential for growth. Recent data reveals that 7% of Indigenous businesses engage in international trade, though this figure is lower than the Canadian business population, which stands at 12%. However, exporting provides a unique opportunity for Indigenous businesses to overcome locational disadvantages and tap into global markets.

While catching up to the average Canadian business’s export rate is important, there are indications that Indigenous businesses can leverage market trends to thrive and contribute to economic development within their communities. Several promising trends offer opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurs, including Indigenous-made arts and crafts, sustainable and eco-friendly practices, and cultural awareness and partnerships. The United States, Australia, the European Union, and Aotearoa (New Zealand) are popular destinations for Indigenous-supplied goods and services.

Financially, Indigenous businesses show promising results, with three-quarters of surveyed entrepreneurs reporting profitability and expressing optimism for revenue growth in 2016. A significant 39% experienced revenue increases between 2018 and 2019, with over half of them (56%) achieving growth rates exceeding 20%. This optimism was tempered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately impacted Indigenous businesses, notably those in natural resources, construction, and services industries. In particular, Indigenous tourism operators and businesses based in Indigenous communities faced numerous challenges and disruptions due to travel restrictions and closures.

Despite the achievements made by Indigenous entrepreneurs before the pandemic, they continue to face unique challenges unrelated to the global health crisis. Access to qualified Indigenous employees, skills training, investment opportunities, technical expertise, and mentoring are crucial for their continued success. The urgent need for skills training initiatives is particularly notable, as two-thirds of Indigenous business owners cite difficulties finding qualified Indigenous employees.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these concerns, with 73% of Indigenous business owners reporting negative impacts even as late as December 2021, and many remain unable to take on further loans. Indigenous entrepreneurs highlight the importance of developing digital skills and embracing online sales as key strategies for resilience and adaptability.

The resurgence of Indigenous businesses in Canada presents a significant economic growth and innovation opportunity. By providing the necessary resources and support, government, corporate, and academic communities can empower Indigenous entrepreneurs and contribute to a more inclusive and prosperous business landscape for all.

Exploring New Directions in Research

But our journey does not end here. CCAB research continues to champion economic development by gathering insights directly from Indigenous Peoples themselves and assisting in creating their research priorities. Through in-person interviews, surveys, and roundtables, we collect invaluable data on the benefits, successes, and challenges faced in economic empowerment. This ongoing research allows us to shape policies and initiatives that reflect the aspirations and realities of Indigenous communities.

Indsights: A Window into the Indigenous Economy

Indsights is a collaborative project between Humber College and CCAB, led by Professor Audrey Wubbenhorst. It aims to highlight the important role of Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian economy through digital storytelling. The project creates interactive online case studies to empower a diverse audience, including students, academics, professionals, and government officials, to explore and support Indigenous economies.

What makes Indsights unique is its focus on Indigenous business case studies. By sharing stories of success and overcoming obstacles, the project aims to inspire entrepreneurship and economic development among Indigenous Peoples through role modeling and representation. This work follows the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report from 2015. The report emphasized the importance of reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous Peoples through 94 “calls to action.” Some of these calls to action focus on education and the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in the mainstream curriculum. To fulfill this recommendation, it is necessary to provide educators with accessible and engaging content across various subjects.

Operating on three pillars—celebration, education, and action—Indsights celebrates Indigenous business excellence, educates about Indigenous economies, and empowers individuals to connect with Indigenous businesses.

Since 2020, Indsights has conducted qualitative interviews with Indigenous business owners to gather insights. These insights are transformed into engaging multimedia case studies, co-created with input from the entrepreneurs themselves. To date, there have been seven published case studies, and the project intends to generate more than 15 in total, including videos, written components, and teaching notes.

The initial phase focused on Indigenous businesses in retail, food and beverage, and sustainability sectors. In subsequent phases, the project expanded its reach to professional services, construction, and tourism.

The first three case studies featured the following Indigenous businesses:

The next set of case studies is scheduled for publication in spring 2023.

After the project’s completion in June 2024, the case studies and insights will be accessible for free as resources to foster connections, inspire, and inform future entrepreneurial journeys. Utilizing these resources can help educators compile a library of relevant material for their curriculums and classrooms. The portfolio will cover various Indigenous businesses, from small private enterprises to economic development corporations and industry partnerships.

Indigenous entrepreneurs frequently recount their early stages, the challenges they faced, and the support they needed to build their businesses. Despite barriers such as limited resources, networks, cultural and language differences, and government policies, Indigenous business owners find ways to overcome challenges. However, some obstacles are systemic and require collective efforts from businesses, government, and civil society.

To learn more about Indsights or explore collaborations (or how to become a CCAB member), visit the dedicated project website ( or contact the CCAB research department for assistance ( The project aims to empower the next generation with a comprehensive understanding of Indigenous businesses and their contributions to society.

Together, we can unleash the full potential of Canada’s Indigenous economy, driving economic empowerment for Indigenous businesses and communities. We can build a stronger, equitable, and prosperous future for all.


The CCAB Research Team

Every year on May 22, the United Nations (UN) observes The International Day for Biological Diversity to highlight innovative solutions to the biodiversity crisis. This year’s theme is centered on the actions to build back biodiversity with the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework at COP 15. The framework highlights four goals along with 23 targets to achieve by 2030, with the UN Environment Program encouraging businesses and people alike to spend the month of May taking small actions to preserve biodiversity.

At Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2), we work with industry partners that are not only working to preserve Canada’s rich ecosystems but are also releasing timely research to address the best approaches for our country to bolster its economy while protecting biodiversity.

Canada houses a vast range of biodiversity hubs, with forests being one of the most prominent. According to the State of Canada Forestry Report, our country is home to nine per cent of the world’s forests, and forestry makes up nearly 40 per cent of our landscape, making us reliant on forests for many benefits. In line with the theme of this year’s biodiversity day, Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), a C2R2 National Industry Partner (NIAC), released their conservation report to outline the practices, achievements and contributions to Canada’s forestry sector for the conservation of our forests and planet.

Conservation Forestry – Careful Use of Canada’s Forest Resources highlights the many ways that conservation serves as a core principle of sustainable forest management in Canada so that forests will remain healthy and resilient and continue to support and enrich the lives of Canadians for generations to come.

Through innovation, sustainable practices, and a zero-waste approach, Canadian forestry can work with nature to extend the amount of carbon captured from forests to build more sustainable communities, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, reimagine the products we use every day and create green jobs for the next generation.

Interested in learning more? Read the full report here.

The protection of biodiversity is necessary for the well-being of our planet and communities. To truly protect our biodiversity in Canada, industries need to shift from economic practices that negatively impact the environment toward nature conservation solutions.

By 2030, an estimated 208,700 new clean energy jobs will be added to the Canadian job market, according to a report from Clean Energy Canada – only a portion of the potential job opportunities that could become available with the adoption of green practices. This far exceeds the 125,800 jobs lost in fossil fuels, but to maximize the benefit, strategies backed by practice or research must be adopted by industries as we shift to a clean economy.

There is much to learn about the nature conservation workforce, the challenges it faces, and how those challenges can be addressed. ECO Canada, a C2R2 NIAC member, released The Nature Conservation Sector Profile, a study that begins to fill this knowledge gap by describing the nature conservation workforce and exploring the human resource strategies needed to support its growth and ensure equity.

The study also revealed potential strategies and solutions to address nature conservation workforce needs and gaps. These include:

Interested in learning more? Read the full report here.

Establishing an economy that protects our biodiversity while increasing job opportunities is going to be a long journey as countries begin to explore the opportunities within nature conservation. With sector industries – like those that make up our NIAC – pioneering the transition with research, advocacy and implementation, it is with no doubt that Canada will achieve a just transition with minimal economic impact.

Home to over 213 public higher education institutions, Canada is recognized as a global contributor to quality research, education and training. The extent of Canadian post-secondary institutions’ leadership does not stop at research and education, however. Canadian institutions are trailblazers in the shift toward more nature-conscious developments in the education and research they disseminate as well as the environments they occupy.

With the theme of this month’s International Biodiversity Day being From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity, it is important to recognize that building biodiversity starts in our own communities. Canadian colleges, cégeps, institutes and polytechnics play a critical role in communities, and are uniquely approaching the protection of biodiversity and green life at home.

From building green buildings, to holding our institutions accountable, to allocating funding toward environmental protection, our coalition members are taking the actions needed to preserve biodiversity.

Highlighted below are case studies from three of our members that local and global institutions alike can learn from going forward.


Seneca Polytechnic is embarking on a multi-million-dollar capital project to develop a health and wellness complex infused with Indigenous design, sustainability and inclusion.

Landscaped outdoor space surrounding the Centre will provide opportunities to engage with nature. Highlights include a central drum courtyard with a fire pit, an extensive arrangement of native plants and trees, regenerative forest, earth mounds and a teaching and leisure rooftop terrace.

Affirming the commitment to being the sustainable Seneca, a multitude of green building practices will be incorporated, including mass timber, rainwater harvesting, solar energy, geothermal energy, renewable building materials, green roofing, and designing for resilience and operational sustainability.

Read the full story here.

Glass building with trees in front of it


Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) is celebrating the achievement of receiving a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, or AASHE. With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.

Highlights of RRC Polytech’s recent sustainability efforts include the construction of the new Manitou a bi Bii daziigae building, designed to LEED Gold standards, and the coordinated efforts to re-use and donate over 1,900 furniture items and 3.5 tonnes of books and household items during the move of the Language Training Centre from its old location into the new building.

Read the full story here.

Two elderly man and woman standing near plaque in forest in autumn


A $2.6 million donation of a 12-acre property of environmental and historical significance will enable Holland College to establish the John and Christine Andrew Centre of Excellence in Watershed Management in East Royalty.

The donation is the largest single gift in the history of the college. President Dr. Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald said the generosity of the Andrew family and their desire to ensure that the property remains protected, sustainable, and accessible to the public, is a tribute to their commitment to the environment and to the community.

The property will be used for education, research, and activities that improve environmental and watershed sustainability. The college plans to partner with the federal and provincial governments and Island watershed groups to preserve and maintain the pond and forest.

Read the full story here.

The Canadian College for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2) is working with many institutions across the country that are committed to adopting more green practices to support Canada in reaching its goal of net zero.

Across the campuses of our 14 partner institutions, everyone is working hard to adopt waste-conscious policies, create safe habitats, incorporate sustainable practices in curriculum and create national awareness of the steps needed to reach our sustainability goals.

With Earth Day approaching, it is an opportunity to highlight some of the steps being taken and initiatives being adopted to maintain the well-being of our planet.

Throw in The Towel: Algonquin College Paper Towel Reduction Campaign

This spring, Algonquin College will be phasing out using paper hand towels in college washrooms to exclusively use electric hand dryers. In the past 18 months, the cost of paper towel has more than doubled. Not only is it more expensive, but it is non-compostable, so waste ends up in a landfill.

Currently the College spends approximately $100K/year on hand paper towels and an additional $70K in labour related costs for stocking washrooms and collecting waste. In terms of waste volume, this represents at least 44,200 bag (30 gallons) that go into a landfill annually.

The College uses 2,100 cases of paper towels each year 9,765.000 ft of paper per year. The college is committed to increasing sustainable practices, and reducing waste and emissions associated with daily operations.

Algonquin College is also encouraging staff and students to take responsibility for waste management on campus by organizing a campus-wide clean-up ahead of Earth Day. The full details can be found here.

Mohawk College Makes Waste Disposal Management Accessible

Mohawk College released the WasteFinder pilot project across its campuses to help make waste disposal management more accessible. WasteFinder is a series of tactile signage indicators that are placed on the ground surrounding waste stations. The indicators assist individuals who are blind or experience low-vision to independently and effectively dispose of their waste.

The projected was proposed by a Mohawk Alumni who helped make the project a reality, bridging the gap between accessibility and sustainability on campus by improving accessibility and social inclusion, and increasing waste diversion on campus.

The Mohawk College WasteFinder website can be found here.

Supporting Biodiversity at Nova Scotia Community College

Nova Scotia Community College’s (NSCC) Landscape Management Plan maintains grounds without the use of irrigation, harmful chemicals or pesticides, and maintains areas where native plants have been planted to promote the return of pollinators. NSCC campuses lead in their communities by initiating projects such as the keeping of local honeybee apiaries, community and native pollinator gardens, community clean-ups and piloting the use of environmentally preferred ice melt products. These projects create opportunities for students, staff and the community to support the local ecosystems.

This year, NSCC’s Annapolis Valley Campus used the College’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund to support biodiversity at their campus. The Campus’ sustainability committee received funding for four rain barrels and two wood duck nesting boxes.

The rain barrels capture rainwater to supply the flower and vegetable gardens. The rain-captured water is chlorine-free which helps maintain a healthy biotic community in the soil. The Wood Duck nesting boxes support the conservation of Wood Ducks, whose populations have declined from habitat loss and a lack of secure nesting areas.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic Celebrates First Annual Sustainability Day

Sustainability is one of Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s (Sask Polytech) four key values, and feeds into their vision and mission, to lead the rise of polytechnic education and empower a better Saskatchewan. Sask Polytech is pleased to present its first annual Sustainability Day, bringing together students, faculty and staff to celebrate all their work contributing to sustainability and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

In-person and virtual events are planned including poster presentations, lightning talks and the Student Sustainability Innovation Competition prizewinner announcement. The day is also an opportunity to connect with others across the campus community in the spirit of miyo wâhkôhtowin—good relationships. Sask Polytech plans to make Sustainability Day an annual event to coincide with Earth Day.

While there is still plenty of work to be done across Canada, it is important for us to recognize our milestones and share our success stories to encourage others to follow suit. 

Like our members, we encourage you to take Earth Day as an opportunity to reflect on how you could support the transition to net zero at your institution, place of work or at home! You can learn more about ways to get involved on Earth Day here.

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