On Friday, December 14, the inaugural class of Red River College’s Indigenous Social Enterprise hosted industry partners, including leaders from Manitoba’s successful and emerging social enterprises, to introduce them to RRC’s newest two-year diploma program.
The centrepiece of the event was unveiling the Social Enterprise Map students created over the first term to identify the social enterprise ecosystem in Manitoba. Each student had the opportunity to present a specific social enterprise in each of the main categories.
Student Courtney Clemons, whose spirit name is White Thunder Cloud Woman, presented on Fisher River Economic Development Corporation (FRED).
“They have about ten different subsidiary companies and all of them kind of help each other out financially. They kind of keep that money within the community which I find is really amazing,” says Clemons. “I’m really proud to able to say that’s my reserve, and it just makes my heart tingle a little bit by saying that’s where I’m from, that’s my home town, those are my people.”
Social Enterprise is one of the five new programs launched this fall for Indigenous learners that aim to grow Indigenous representation and assist RRC in continuing its strategic priority to advance Indigenous achievement at the College.
“I went to an Open House at the Notre Dame Campus,” continued Clemons. “They described the program to me, and I was like that is exactly where I want to be and just described how I want my career to progress.”
This two-year diploma introduces students to a multitude of for-profit, non-profit, and co-operatively structured social enterprises addressing today’s most pressing issues. Students work alongside social-enterprises here in Manitoba to gain the right hands-on experience to understand what it takes to work on these environmental, social, cultural, and spiritual needs. Students will also experience first-hand how their work can have an impact on addressing a variety of societal challenges that exist in many urban and rural communities.
At the end of the program each student will have an opportunity to incubate their own social enterprise idea and then launch it upon graduation.
“I hope to start a bunch of companies and manage some programs,” laughs Clemons. “It would be an honour to be able to work with Fisher River, just to be able to say ‘I work with my community, I’m from this community’ and that would make a lot of sense for me.”
Photography by Darcy Finley.