Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for North Vancouver, today announced $1.9 million in funding towards Capilano University’s new Indigenous Digital Accelerator Centre.
The funds flow from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Western Economic Diversification Canada and will provide Indigenous students the opportunity to launch and their own digital and creative businesses.
The funds will result in “Indigenous students bridging their cultural values with opportunities in British Columbia’s growing creative and technology sectors. This boosts inclusive economic growth,” said Minster Navdeep Bains.
The need for such a centre is strong on the West Coast, said Wilkinson. By the year 2021 there will be a talent gap of more than 30,000 technology workers in the province. Vancouver is known as Hollywood North and generates more than $5.7 billion in GDP.
The funding will help establish a dedicated space for Indigenous entrepreneurs to start-up or scale-up their own businesses in a culturally-supportive environment.
“Sometimes it feels like a maze for an Indigenous person to try and get this funding and try to break through,” said Doreen Manuel, director of the Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film & Animation at Capilano. She said there are all sorts of problems that this accelerator will address.
“I’m just so grateful to be a part of it,” said the Secwepemc/Ktunaxa Nations filmmaker. The whole industry is behind the project, she explained, saying it’s “mind-boggling” how times have changed over her lifetime.
Demand for talent in British Columbia’s growing creative and technology sectors has created opportunities for the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs and storytellers to transform traditional knowledge and history into innovative digital solutions for their communities and the marketplace.
Capilano University has partnered with Indigenext, an Indigenous business accelerator, to provide hands-on mentoring and technical advice to Indigenous entrepreneurs.
“Innovation is key to a growing economy and creating good middle class jobs for Canadians. That’s why our government is investing in projects like Capilano University’s new Indigenous Digital Accelerator Centre, which will provide Indigenous students the opportunity to (build) their own digital and creative businesses.
Elders will also be available to mentor students and ensure cultural values and community engagement are built into business opportunities.
This targeted approach directly supports Indigenous economic growth and will help inject more than $13 million into the Canadian economy over the next three years it’s estimated.
“The new Indigenous Digital Accelerator represents a tremendous opportunity for our university to boost collaboration with our Indigenous partners and further support Indigenous individuals, businesses and groups to enhance skillsets that contribute to strengthening the digital and creative sectors in B.C,” said Laureen Styles, Vice President Academic & Provost, Capilano University.