New initiative creates ripple effect between Indigenous entrepreneurs and ocean sector

Posted on June 24, 2021 | By Simon R. Smith | 0 Comments

A new Atlantic Canadian initiative will create partnerships between Indigenous ocean businesses and companies with the region’s ocean technology sector to work on sustainability-focused projects.

Announced on World Ocean Day (June 8), Samqwane’jk will be operated by Ulnooweg Development Group in partnership with the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) and Halifax consultancy, Upswing Solutions. Through the initiative, Indigenous-led businesses will collaborate with ocean technology companies at COVE on projects that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We know we have entrepreneurs out there … that have a lot of potential ideas that just need that little extra step to support them and bring them to a space where they can capitalize on the resources that are already out there,” Ulnooweg COO, Chris Googoo said. “It’s getting them to realize that this space is available for us… and we shouldn’t be afraid to go into it.”

Samqwane’jk has been allocated $857,000 in funding from the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Program. At least three projects, which can range from aquaculture to electric vessel development, will be selected this fall to receive support and funding based on their ability to “demonstrate measurable progress” towards the SDGs and help advance Canada’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Projects can be new products from existing businesses or new businesses altogether.

“We have not set any hard and fast criteria,” Ulnooweg’s strategic initiatives officer, Paul Langdon said. “We know that there’s interest out there from several of our Indigenous clients … so, we believe we’ll be able to get several very good projects underway.”

Once the projects are selected, Ulnooweg and COVE will work together to identify which ocean technology businesses would be “natural partners,” COVE CEO, Melanie Nadeau said.

“The leadership of Ulnooweg is great for us because they can really be a champion and we can start enabling more Indigenous engagement in this sector,” Nadeau said, adding that the projects and businesses developed through Samqwane’jk initiative could have significant local and global impact.

“Samqwane’jk translates into people who love the water,” Googoo said. “This project brings together innovators who care about our oceans and who have the skills and desire to make significant strides towards ocean sustainability. The impact of these initiatives will positively affect many generations to come.” •

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