Impact Stories

It's the individuals and businesses that continue to make a difference in the lives and communities in Western Canada. Here are their success stories.

Impact stories from official languages minority communities


Impact stories from official languages minority communities

The Official Languages Act turns 50 this year, and we’re celebrating! Bilingualism is at the heart of being Canadian and it’s a huge advantage in international trade. Part of Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD)’s mandate is to help official language minority communities thrive across Western Canada. Here are a few stories about how Francophone entrepreneurs that WD supports are helping build Western Canada’s economy.

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forest wildfire


Rebuilding after British Columbia Wildfires

The 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons were the worst in British Columbia's history. The 2017 fires burned an area twice as large as Prince Edward Island and displaced over 65,000 people. The 2018 fires surpassed this record by burning 2,000 hectares more than the 2017 fires.

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Several government agencies and the Red Cross focused on basic short-term needs for residents, but the record-breaking wildfire seasons also had severe economic impacts.

Small businesses account for 98% of rural British Columbia's economy. They are the pulse of communities across the province. Many rural entrepreneurs in areas hardest hit by the wildfires faced barriers to rebuilding. There were fewer clients. Staff was displaced. Revenues were down. Community Futures Development Association of BC (CFBC) said the wildfires impacted up to 15,000 businesses.

Fortunately, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) worked closely with CFBC. Together, we created the Wildfire Business Transition Project. This nimble initiative helped reduce the economic impacts of the fires. It gave local small businesses custom support to rebuild in their communities.

WD provided $1.84 million towards the project, which allowed CFBC to work with their network of Community Futures offices to target entrepreneurs who needed the most support.

For some business owners, that meant giving them funds to train new employees and get back into business. For others, the project coached the owners back onto their feet. For still others, it gave access to financing to help rebuild their livelihoods.

To date, the project helped over 2,600 businesses that were victims of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires. That includes 566 women-led enterprises and 487 Indigenous businesses. It also allowed over 2,800 jobs to stay in the community, which helped re-build the local economy.

The risk of wildfire remains a concern for many people in British Columbia after two consecutive record-breaking years. But ventures like the Wildfire Business Transition Project can help. When we work together, small businesses can bounce back from natural disasters to build a strong and prosperous economy.

woman holding head of lettuce


Churchill Region Economic Development Fund

The past few years have been challenging for the town of Churchill, Manitoba. In 2016, the Port of Churchill closed. Then in 2017, all rail service stopped due to the washout. Many people lost their jobs, and the cost of food and fuel rose significantly.

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Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) developed the Churchill Region Economic Development (CRED) Fund in 2016. The fund's goal is to address the economic instability facing the Churchill region over the past few years.

Local participation comes from third-party delivery of CRED funds through Community Futures Manitoba. An independent management committee ensures that decisions are made by business and community leaders from northern Manitoba.

WD continues to show its commitment to the people of Churchill and the surrounding area. It has been working on the ground in Churchill with community members to identify economic development opportunities.

WD also provided $4.6M million to capitalize the fund when the port closed and rail service decreased. It added another $2.7 million after the rail disruption due to flooding.

CRED has funded a number of projects in Churchill and the surrounding region.

One of those projects is the Churchill Northern Studies Centre Hydroponic Growcer Project, funded with $276,350. This project set up a modular hydroponic growing system. It grows fresh produce using mineral nutrients in water instead of soil. The system uses limited space and creates a new, local source for healthy greens. It also creates new jobs for the people of Churchill and the surrounding area, and can generate new revenue in the community.

Another project the CRED Fund backed, with $243,925, is the Mould and Asbestos Abatement Program. Several vacant buildings in Churchill have asbestos in them. This project trained 10 previous employees of the Port of Churchill in mould and asbestos abatement, giving them new, in-demand skills. The 2 buildings this program cleared were the Churchill Theatre and the former Duke of Marlborough School.

The Government of Canada has been working diligently to provide a long-term economic solution for the Town of Churchill and for northern Manitoba. CRED is just a small piece of the puzzle.

The Churchill Region Economic Development Fund - #WeFundedThat

Investing in Indigenous Peoples in Alberta

Photo credit: Trade Winds to Success Training Society - [2019-02-05]

Investing in Indigenous Peoples in Alberta

In 2015, Trade Winds to Success Training Society received $1,069,938 from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to support the expansion of pre-apprenticeship training for Indigenous Peoples in Alberta.

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The Society helps Indigenous youth develop their job skills and prepare for careers in a wide range of trades.

With a lifelong passion for carpentry, Alexander Hunter is a proud recent graduate of the pre-apprenticeship program. The training helped him enhance his skills and boost his confidence in contract work in rough carpentry and cabinet making. It also helped him in his own home renovations.

Hunter says he is truly grateful for every aspect of the program. He especially acknowledges program Journeyman, Roland Large, whom Hunter says is wise, patient and intelligent.

Hunter is working on a project in his home community of Saddle Lake Cree Nation. He has his sights set on becoming a journeyman. He knows it will take a great deal of hard work, and the keys to his success will be determination, ambition and confidence.

It is easy to understand why Hunter's wife and 3 step children are proud of his dedication and achievements. He is a shining example of why Trade Winds to Success Training Society developed this program. That is why WD supports the Society and celebrates its adult learners.

woman conducting experiment

Photo credit: MOST Facility - Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan - [2019-02-05]

Getting the MOST out of mine reclamation

Returning a mine site to its original state is far more complex than covering it over and planting trees. The design and materials that go into the cover system must ensure that mine wastes are properly sealed off.

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Rain and snowmelt could seep in and carry pollutants into groundwater. Mine owners have to test:

  • plant roots
  • animal burrows
  • freeze-thaw cycles
  • stability of the covering slope

Regulators also want to know that the cover design will last for years to come.

In 2015, the University of Saskatchewan's Global Institute for Water Security received $1.8 million from WD through the Western Diversification Program to establish the Mine Overlay Site Testing (MOST) facility in Saskatoon.

MOST measures how water moves through a cover design and how that flow changes over time. The facility builds scale models of cover designs in 4-metre by 2-metre trailers. Sprinklers simulate rainfall and snow melt. Tilting the trailer simulates hill slopes. The contents of the trailers can be repeatedly frozen and thawed, speeding up the passage of the seasons. Instruments trace water flow through the layers of covering materials.

The one-of-a-kind facility makes it possible for researchers working with resource companies to test the designs of covers for closed mines. MOST works in the gap between small-scale lab experiments and complex, large-scale test sites.

According to the Global Institute for Water Security, MOST experiments more accurately predict how a cover system will work compared to conventional lab tests. And MOST does it in a fraction of the time and cost of outdoor experiments in large, outdoor test plots.

Client mining companies and engineering firms use the results of MOST's research to close and reclaim mines. They protect the environment better and potentially save millions of dollars.

Submarine navigation


Canadian Navigation Technology makes waves on a global level

Over 600 naval vessels across the globe rely on tactical navigation software from British Columbia's OSI Maritime Inc.

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In 1979, OSI's small team of engineers and computer scientists began creating navigation software for commercial ships.

Now, OSI has over 110 employees. It is transforming how navigation works at sea. OSI is the only Canadian firm that makes complex software integral to a ship's navigation.

Based in Burnaby, British Columbia, OSI makes integrated "application systems" software for:

  • warships
  • submarines
  • maritime security

The firm is using WD funding to upgrade its Electronic Chart Precise Integrated Navigation System (ECPINS) to meet North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) standards.

OSI is also using the funds to bring the ECPINS to market. It has offices on 4 continents, and supplies technology to 20 NATO-allied navies around the world.

The firm's Integrated Navigation & Tactical System (INTS) has an innovative design that can adapt to the most demanding military environments. Based on ECPINS, INTS is fully scalable and fits both old and new warships. This helps the ships function well in tough situations.

OSI's most recent contract is with Damen Shipyards and the South African Navy. It will supply 3 Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessels MMIPVs) with:

  • INTS
  • Tactical Asset Control (T-ACT) System
  • Integrated Mission Management System (IMMS)

Through sensors and data links, these OSI systems will give the South African Navy a tactical advantage. They will help Damen Shipyards' vessels curb illegal trafficking and fishing.

Innovative projects like these not only make our seas more secure, they help BC SMEs succeed on the world stage. By supporting home-grown talent and innovation such as OSI, WD helps Canadians participate and thrive in the economy.

Solving high pressure risk through intelligent innovation

Photo credit: Intelligent Wellhead Systems - [2019-02-05]

Solving high pressure risk through intelligent innovation

The aptly named, Intelligent Wellhead Systems (IWS) knows a lot about working under pressure in the energy sector.

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Founders Mitch Carlson (CEO) and Brad Martin (CTO) spent almost 20 years working in high-pressure snubbing operations, where pipe, tubing and special equipment is inserted into gas and oil wells under pressure.

Their first-hand knowledge of the stress and dangers of live well intervention inspired them to create a new tool to increase efficiency and improve safety.

In 2016, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) invested $1.1 million to IWS through the Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative. The funds helped Mitch and Brad commercialize their inVision System.

This System allows pressure control operators to see inside the wellhead and other pressurized components in real time. They can inspect pressurized systems without the need to create pressure compromising entry points. It works much like an MRI that helps healthcare professionals to see inside the human body.

This technology boosts efficiency and saves oil companies millions of dollars in non-productive rig time at both on- and off-shore live wells. It reduces the carbon footprint of oil and gas operations by enabling quicker work-over and completion times. That means less time burning diesel engines to perform such tasks. At the same time, it makes many daily tasks much safer.

IWS built 10 inVision Systems for 3 market sectors across the globe:

  • Offshore
  • Plug & Perf Land
  • Critical Well Middle East/North Africa

Working with major oil field service companies, IWS is deploying this system in the Gulf of Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Canada.

Thanks in part to WD funding, and through industry support, IWS found new uses for its technology in sub-sea and onshore hydraulic fracturing.

WD is proud of how IWS helps oil and gas companies prevent life-threatening accidents, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make operations more efficient.

cherry orchard


Semios precision technology helps growers respond to crop threats

There's an old saying that goes: "If you ate today, thank a farmer."

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We often forget the important role that agriculture plays in our communities. Having fresh food at our fingertips helps keep us healthy and active.

But what if growers can't keep up with the demand for fresh produce?

Luckily, farmers and engineers are working together to keep fresh produce on our shelves. They are finding innovative solutions to challenges from climate change, harmful pesticides, and crop disease.

Semios BIO Technologies Inc. (Semios) is at the leading edge of agricultural innovation. This trailblazing BC-based agritech company is reducing toxic chemical use in tree fruit and nut crop orchards.

In 2016, Semios got a $500,000 investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD). Those funds helped cherry orchardists increase their crop value. Semios combines big data and machine learning to deal with four pain points that growers face:

  • frost
  • pests
  • disease
  • irrigation

This helps growers maximize resources and increase harvests each year.

Semios' proprietary sensors can monitor aspects like weather, temperature, humidity and mildew. The system sends farmers text messages or email alerts for:

  • frost
  • insect invasion
  • fire blight (a common fruit tree disease)

The Semios system also dispenses pheromone-based biopesticides into the air. This is a well-known clean alternative to pesticides in orchards.

This crop monitoring and management system reduces spoilage caused by pests and poor irrigation. It also reduces soil contamination from pesticide use. As a result, more produce makes it to market.

Semios was recognized for its precision agricultural technology at the 2018 BC Export Awards. The company took home the prize for top clean technology exporter.

Semios is helping growers across North America assess and respond to crop threats in real time.

By 2019, Semios expects the new technology to boost domestic sales by $5 million and international sales by $1 million. That means each dollar from WD's investment will generate $20 in sales. Now that's a fruitful investment!

Karina LeBlanc's Field of Dreams


Karina LeBlanc's Field of Dreams

Sport has always been a passion for Canadian Olympic soccer star Karina Leblanc. Now she has a sports field in her very own town of Maple Ridge, BC. There, she can share this passion with the next generation of Canadian athletes.

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In May 2018, the City of Maple Ridge officially opened Karina Leblanc Field at Merkley Park in honour of Canada's longest standing national soccer player.

With $500,000 in funding from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, the City of Maple Ridge invested $2.5 million in this all-weather field with:

  • improved parking
  • upgraded pathways
  • new play structures
  • fencing and backstops
  • upgraded field lighting
  • a new drainage system

The park also features a new piece of public art called "Field of Dreams". It represents the history of Maple Ridge, including Leblanc's rise to sports excellence.

Karina began her athletic career on the field that carries her name. Now she has 5 FIFA World Cups and 2 Olympic Games under her belt, including a bronze medal in London 2012.

Karina moved to Maple Ridge from Dominica at the age of 8. It was sport that helped a once shy and sometimes bullied young girl gain the self-confidence and passion that drove her to pursue her dreams.

Sport also helped Karina inspire others through her work as a UNICEF ambassador and in her post-athletic career as a motivational speaker through her Karina Leblanc Foundation.

Just before the ribbon cutting to open the field, Karina ran a leadership session for 20 youth mentors at her alma mater Maple Ridge Secondary School. Following the grand opening, these young women helped Karina run a free sports clinic for young soccer players from Maple Ridge.

The Karina LeBlanc Field is more than an economic investment. It is an investment in the quality of life for all residents of Maple Ridge. It serves as a reminder of what people can achieve through hard work and determination.

Karina LeBlanc Field - #WeFundedThat

Reduce, Reuse… Rethink Recycling


Reduce, reuse… rethink recycling

That last glob of yogurt left in the container costs recycling programs millions of dollars each year.


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Many people don't know that misplacing items in the wrong recycling stream can cause several problems. A spoonful of peanut butter left over in the jar could soil a tonne of paper when people put items in the wrong recycling stream. And this could send these "recyclable" goods to the dump.

The amount of plastic being recycled has risen in the past decade. This is due to changing lifestyles, new types of packaging and the sheer convenience of plastic. It has led to higher recycling rates, but with more room for error, leaving municipalities to cope with the challenges.

Telling the public and giving them recycling tips can help reduce the problem. But a more reliable way to improve recycling success rates is through innovation.

If only there were durable materials that were also biodegradable.

A western Canadian company may have the solution. WINN-funded good natured Products Inc. aims to be the North America's leader in plant-based products and packaging. It already has over 120 customers in the United States and Canada.

good natured® makes over 100 types of plant-based packaging. The company's goal is to disrupt the wasteful behemoth of the plastic packaging industry.

The company also makes a range of durable home and business products like desk accessories, waste bins and totes. It uses the highest possible percentage of renewable, plant-based materials with no BPA s, phthalates or other chemicals of concern.

good natured®  uses the ASTM D6400 standard to test how well its plant-based materials can compost. Its food packaging will break down in a commercial compost facility within 180 days. Of 500 billion pounds of plastic produced each year, only 8% gets recycled. That makes compostable plastic exciting.

Plant-based packaging from good natured® has another benefit. It doesn't leach hazardous chemicals into the soil or water! Traditional, petroleum-based plastics cannot make this claim.

good natured® is challenging the status quo.

Coupled with newfound regulatory pressures and policies against single use plastic products and trends that move towards sustainable practices, the innovative products from good natured® will only increase in popularity.

"Our products are sustainable, green, good for your health and the earth," says Sadaf Sabet, Product Development Manager, "We're very proud of it!"

Biodegradable packaging - #WeFundedThat

Women Building Futures - You got this!

Photo Credit: Women Building Futures [2018-09-04]

Women Building Futures - You got this!

The pursuit of inclusive participation in the economy requires a change in perspectives and a change in traditional ways of thinking. This belief prompted a small group of women to set up Women Building Futures (WBF) in 1998.

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WBF's goal is to prepare women for careers in industries in which, historically, they have been under-represented. Through skilled trades training and mentorship, WBF works with industry to create programs and career opportunities to help women achieve financial security that can transform their futures.

WD has been a proud supporter of WBF since 2005. During that time, WD has funded 6 projects for a total investment of approximately $5.5 million. WD funding has helped WBF:

  • expand programs
  • develop curriculum
  • retrofit warehouse space for its facility
  • deliver programs in new ways, such as online and with virtual reality tools

With support from WD and others, WBF gives women a new path to economic freedom. But taking that path requires courage, determination, hard work and a leap of faith.

That means going for your goal even in the face of fear. Take, for example, Cora-Lee. She's the voice behind WBF's award-winning "You Got This" marketing campaign, which encourages women to consider a career in the trades. Cora-Lee says becoming a pipefitter is a major source of pride because it means she didn't back down from challenges. Her red seal ticket gave Cora-Lee independence, a sense of self-worth, and the ability to create a bright future for herself and her 2 daughters.

That sense of accomplishment can be heard in many WBF stories. Helena is proud to be called tough and courageous when she tells people she is a professional Class 1 truck driver.

Karlayne, a second-year apprentice millwright,can't wait to see an eager apprentice look up to her one day.

Kristen, a graduate of WBF's Journeywoman Start Class, is now a first-year electrician. She loves building things and working with her hands.

These stories are a small sample from the thousands of women who have participated in WBF programs. Their stories are part of why WD is so proud to work with WBF in our mutual goal of inclusive participation in Western Canada's economy. WBF continues to place women in the workforce at a rate of 90%. That suggests WBF hit the nail on the head when it set out to empower women to build their futures through careers in the trades. The rest, as they say, is "herstory".

Skills training for women - #WeFundedThat

Serious things happening at Serious Labs

Photo Credit: Serious Labs [2018-09-04]

Serious things happening at Serious Labs

Mention mandatory training to your staff and you can expect groans and eye rolling. But an Alberta company has found a way to make this unpopular task both effective and enjoyable.


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Serious Labs makes training fun, while still taking worker and worksite safety seriously. The company makes interactive and engaging courses using simulation and virtual reality. Serious Labs began by working with United Rentals (UR), the world's largest equipment rental company. Together, they created many award winning courses for UR's United Academy.

In 2014, Serious Labs' creative approach sparked the interest of Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD). The company received approximately $1 million in Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative funding to develop 7 interactive courses on:

  • worker safety
  • worksite safety
  • safe use of equipment

The funds also helped create a cutting-edge digital platform to manage courses. Employers and employees can both use it to store, track and share their training.

The approach Serious Labs took is getting noticed. In August 2017, it announced an investment of $5 million USD in Series A equity funding from UR and Brick and Mortar Ventures. These funds will help it create more heavy industry courses. These will boost worker skills, and make them safer and more productive.

Serious Labs is also now leveraging the power of virtual reality.

Digital safety training - #WeFundedThat

Saskatoon Trades and Skills Centre – creating inclusive and responsive opportunities


Saskatoon Trades and Skills Centre – creating inclusive and responsive opportunities

Vulnerable, inner city youth lack the training, experience and, in a lot of cases, confidence to secure good jobs that can lead to careers in the skilled trades. At the same time, employers in many industries find it difficult to hire young tradespeople.

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Established in 2007, the Saskatoon Trades and Skills Centre (STSC) is an innovative solution to this problem. The STSC equips vulnerable youth and adults with the skills they need to enter the workforce, while responding to the needs of local industry. It is an initiative of the Saskatoon Public School Division, Saskatoon Tribal Council, Government of Saskatchewan and other partners.

The STSC works with local businesses to offer courses they identify as being in greatest demand. Courses aim to give learners the initial experience that can lead to an entry-level position and on to apprenticeship or other skilled training. The STSC offers a range of programs, such as:

  • retail
  • carpentry and bricklaying
  • heavy equipment operation
  • hospitality and food services

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) provided over $3.6 million to the STSC to:

  • build the centre's learning lab
  • build another building
  • buy equipment for the centre's heavy equipment operator program

The learning lab has classrooms and work areas big enough for construction projects up to the size of small houses.

Students train in their chosen field, as well as for any other qualifications they need to work on a job site, such as health and safety courses. After the formal courses, learners work with a local employer for hands-on training and potentially employment at the end of the work term.

The STSC pays students throughout their program and work placement. They get support and mentoring from career coaches and Elders. The STSC works with learners to help them overcome any other barriers to employment, from providing daycare to helping obtain a driver's license.

In its first decade, the STSC has served over 2500 students with employment rates for graduates over 85%. They include a high proportion of people from backgrounds where getting into trades has been a challenge. Last year, close to half of the STSC's students identified as Indigenous, with another quarter being new Canadians.

STSC has made great impacts for both its students and the local economy. Here's to many more years of success.

Skills training - #WeFundedThat

Solido Design Automation bought by German conglomerate

Photo Credit: Solido Design Automation Inc. [2018-09-04]

Solido Design Automation bought by German conglomerate

Saskatchewan based Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative recipient, Solido Design Automation Inc, is a world leader in microchip design and characterization software powered by proprietary machine learning technology – a form of artificial intelligence.

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Solido's software helps engineers optimize chip designs in ways that are faster than working on designs using other manual or automated approaches.

Solido has hired, either directly or indirectly, 46 engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians in Saskatoon. This is thanks in part to 2 loans worth over $3 million through the WINN Initiative. The loans, in 2014 and 2017, helped it bring to market machine-learning software used to design electronic chips.

In November 2017, Deloitte's Technology Fast 500TM ranked Solido 425th among the 500 fastest growing technology companies in North America. From 2013 to 2016, Solido grew 185%. Since 2009, Solido has been growing by between 50% and 70% per year.

Siemens AG, Europe's largest industrial manufacturing company, announced in November 2017 that it had bought Solido. Speculated as one of the largest technology deals in Saskatchewan history, this transaction will enable Solido to continue to draw on the talent of the University of Saskatchewan's engineering and computer scienceprograms at Innovation Place.

Exciting times are ahead at Solido with further research and development in other areas of automating electronic chip design.

Machine-learning software - #WeFundedThat

SHEday 2018

Photo Credit: Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba [2018-09-04]

SHEday 2018

On January 26, 2018, over 1,500 people – mostly women – shared stories of leadership, business and career development. They gathered in the heart of Winnipeg at the SHEday conference, presented by the Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba (WEC). The previous year, over 1,100 people took part.

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SHEday stands for Share, Hear, Empower. The one-day, annual conference sprouted from a desire to provide services to female business professionals and a venue for them to network. Marina R. James, current CEO of Winnipeg REALTORS, and Mary Jane Loustel,former National Aboriginal Program Executive at IBM, founded the event.

From this initiative, the women created SHEACCELERATOR Inc. This incubator of programs, events and services is designed to accelerate the success and inclusion of women in business. SHEday inspired the accelerator to advance policy frameworks in:

  • gender equality
  • poverty reduction
  • affordable housing
  • healthy neighbourhoods
  • social and financial inclusion
  • Indigenous economic development

This helps others learn from the event.

Some of the speakers were:

  • Maralee Caruso, anchor of CTV News Winnipeg
  • Adriana de Luca and Michelle Lalonde, founders of Tiber River Naturals
  • Norva Riddell, Vice President, Sales, of True North Sports and Entertainment

SHEday is gaining momentum and shows no signs of stopping, all thanks to Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD)'s contributions to the WEC.

WD launched the WEC in 1994 to help women entrepreneurs start or expand their businesses. It provides them with mentorship and easier access to capital. It also helps them develop experience, expertise and credit histories for their new ventures. Ultimately, the goal was to increase the number and strength of women entrepreneurs – and it was successful. WD provides the WEC with $975,000 yearly to promote and assist women entrepreneurs.

Since the WEC's opening in 1994, it has:

  • loaned over $25M
  • reviewed 3,000 business plans
  • delivered over 2,000 workshops
  • trained over 25,000 participants
  • leveraged over $26M with other financial sources
  • helped create over 2,000 full-time job equivalents

SHEday - #WeFundedThat

Vision Quest

Photo Credit: Vision Quest Conferences Inc. [2018-09-04]

Vision Quest

The 2018 Vision Quest Conference benefitted from $20,000 of Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) funding. WD granted the funds through its Western Diversification Program.


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Vision Quest events are formed through partnerships with 5 primarily Indigenous-based Community Futures Development Corporations:

  • Kitayan CFDC
  • Southeast CFDC
  • Cedar Lake CFDC
  • North Central CFDC
  • Dakota Ojibway CFDC

These gatherings promote Indigenous business, community and economic development.

In 2018, Vision Quest marked its 22nd annual conference and trade show: "From Vision to Reality". The event took place from May 15 to 17 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It hosted about 1,000 people and showed 90 exhibits at its trade show.

The conference features the Dragon's Quest Business Plan Competition. Finalists make a live pitch to a panel of business professionals. Participants can compete in 2 categories -Rural and Urban (City of Winnipeg). This year, the Urban winner was Matt Nobess for Indigenous Vitality Sports Camp. The Rural winner was Dakota Sipie for Sipie Mobile Wash. The winners are announced at the Gala Banquet.

Video credit: Vision Quest Conferences Inc.

One of the keynote speakers of this year's conference was Earl Lambert, a Cree/Métis motivational speaker, life coach and storyteller. He is also CEO and President of PROUD TO BE Apparel. The clothing line inspires people to stand strong and be proud of who they are. The other keynote speaker was Andrea Menard, a Métis actress and singer/songwriter. She has appeared in the Netflix series Blackstone and has had roles on shows such as Supernatural.

WD has funded 10 of the past 22 Vision Quest conferences. The 2018 event was a resounding success, and proudly displayed the strength of Manitoba's Indigenous business community.

Vision Quest: Dare to Dream Conference - #WeFundedThat

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