Support for Indigenous, women and youth entrepreneurs in B.C. aims to unlock talent and build an inclusive economy

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Support for Indigenous, women and youth entrepreneurs in B.C. aims to unlock talent and build an inclusive economy (Pacific Economic Development Canada)

PENTICTON AND GABRIOLA ISLAND, BC, Feb. 10, 2023 – Creating opportunities for people with diverse talents, abilities and backgrounds strengthens our economy and generates prosperity for all. That is why PacifiCan is investing in projects that grow our economy and create opportunity for all British Columbians to thrive.

Today, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), announced $148,000 in PacifiCan funding for two projects through its Regional Innovation Ecosystems Program. Funding from this program helps create, grow and nurture inclusive regional economies.

The Gabriola Island Recycling Organization is receiving $98,000 to launch a textile repurposing project for Indigenous, women and youth entrepreneurs on Gabriola Island and Central Vancouver Island. Funding will support purchasing a textile shredder, developing repurposed textile products, and creating a maker’s space for self-employed entrepreneurs. This investment is expected to create eight jobs and help 30 local small businesses.

The British Columbia Economic Development Association is receiving $50,000 to create economic development training materials and webinars to help community groups and local governments support underrepresented groups with economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 in British Columbia. This training will highlight best practices for supporting Indigenous, women, and youth entrepreneurs. 


“Everyone should have the same opportunity to start, grow or achieve business success.  Today’s investments support the efforts of two dedicated organizations who are advancing an inclusive economy in B.C. The Government of Canada will continue to help unlock the potential of all British Columbians, particularly those facing the greatest barriers, which leads to greater prosperity for all.” 

– The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister  responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

“We are grateful to Pacifican for supporting this circular, sustainable social enterprise. Through this initiative we are growing a network of skilled women and youth who are repurposing textiles into beautiful, durable products. Our Makerspace will become a central hub for Vancouver Island supporting textile entrepreneurs in all aspects of cradle to cradle (C2C), sustainable textile businesses. The space will provide year-round workshops on rethinking textile consumption and textile waste. This funding is also supporting our aim to scale up C2C Threads into the Nanaimo District and through workshops inspire other communities and organizations to initiate cradle to cradle approaches for their textile waste stream.”

– Michelle Kresnyak, General Manager / C2C Project Coordinator, Gabriola Island Recycling Organization

“BCEDA is grateful for PacifiCan’s support in creating new professional development manuals and webinars. Our communities have undergone major transformations in recent years, and it is crucial that we come together to tackle challenges and seize opportunities. As a province-wide organization, it is important that we showcase effective economic development practices and empower communities with the resources and knowledge they need to thrive for all citizens. The new manuals will aid us in achieving this objective.”

– Dale Wheeldon, President and CEO, BC Economic Development Association

Quick Facts

  • The Regional Innovation Ecosystem Program aims to grow and nurture priority sectors across British Columbia, building an inclusive innovation ecosystem that allows those sectors to innovate and compete globally.
  • Projects funded through the Regional Innovation Ecosystem program must support at least one priority sector, such as life sciences, clean technology, or agriculture. Additionally, these projects must support the hiring and training of under-represented groups, including Indigenous peoples, women, and youth.
  • PacifiCan is the federal economic development agency dedicated to British Columbians. PacifiCan works with partners who are building innovative businesses, creating quality jobs, and supporting inclusive growth throughout our province.
  • PacifiCan takes an inclusive approach to delivering programs and supporting economic growth and prosperity. To this end, the agency reviews each project proposal that it receives and considers its potential impacts on underrepresented groups, such as women, youth, and Indigenous peoples.

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SOURCE Pacific Economic Development Canada

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