In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.
On June 13 and 14, 2018, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2018 Nisga’a Business Forum. This event was the first of its kind, bringing together individuals from all across the province, including people from business, natural resource, government and non-profit sector. The Nisga’a Business Forum had a two-pronged goal: to help Nisaga’a members connect with local resources and to show the community they were open for business.
As an organization, the Nisga’a Lisims Government has committed to supporting local entrepreneurs with access to loans, grants and training, and this two day business forum acted as a connector to local organizations. All four villages had representation at the event and it was incredible to learn about the economic diversity in each centre, specifically around small business and tourism.
The four Nisga’a Villages are situated in the beautiful Nass Valley, which is just over 100 Km outside of Terrace, B.C. The landscape is a rugged mix of plush forest, ancient lava bed fields and waterfalls. These communities have strong traditions in fishing, hunting and cultural celebrations, and each village has a unique personality.
Many of the panels and village chiefs spoke of the tourism opportunities and I couldn’t help but agree with them. As I drove through the breath taking scenery, I thought of the opportunities in the region. There are multiple hot spring sites, opportunities for fishing and hunting guiding and incredible entrepreneurs selling artisan goods, delicious food and a wide range of other products. I passed B&B’s and a new Nisga’a run fishing and hunting lodge on my way back to Terrace.
One of the challenges facing the villages is the distance to Terrace and supporting their members to access support, specifically support for small business. An important component of the ThriveNorth Initiative is traveling to more remote communities in order to support entrepreneurs who may not have access to more common lender. Nisga’a members have an incredible wealth of ideas when it comes to entrepreneurship and as I was chatting with their younger members, I realized how much talent was in the region.
ThriveNorth has partnered with the Nisga’a Lisims Government to offer targeted training, support and access to funding to better support the incredible young entrepreneurs living in the four villages as well as surrounding communities. It was an honour to spend two days in Gitlaxt’aamiks chatting with Nisga’a members and I look forward to continued relationship.