Without question 2020 will go down in the history books as a year unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. And yet, as I reflect back on the past 12 months, I am incredibly proud of our team and my heart is filled with love and gratitude. We accomplished a lot, hired key team members and students to develop programming and expanded our capacity.
After a very special groundbreaking ceremony, we successfully started construction on the Culture Camp at Hada, in a remote location that comes with its own challenges: significant infrastructure investment, high costs for transportation and barging in supplies, and wild weather. And we pivoted quickly to deliver several food security initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on very short notice.
Four of the five tourism operators where we had secured training opportunities for our youth workers were forced to close due to the pandemic. Even so, 19 of our youth worked as part of the Nawalakw team in 2020, building and maintaining garden boxes, assisting with traditional food harvesting and language programs, and supporting the build of our Culture Camp. We are so grateful for their wonderful positive energy and skills.
We’ve learned a lot, not just about navigating permitting processes, geotechnical engineering and construction design, budgeting or fundraising or business management. Realizing big dreams requires a groundswell of support, and tremendous momentum that is infectious, in a good way. We’ve gained a deep appreciation for the power of relationships. We have been deeply honoured and blessed by people who have supported us and trusted us to carry out this work in a way that is collaborative, respectful and true to our values. We have also made mistakes along the way. As long as we accept them, learn from them, and keep moving forward, we’ll be fine.
I say, bring on 2021 – we welcome a new year with more big dreams, guided by our vision to create a social venture that is a catalyst for healing, connection and sustainable Indigenous enterprises. We will carry on this important work, to re-connect our people to our origins, our culture and our land, and create and support Indigenous businesses to sustain and instill pride in our nations.
We are blessed to be able to do this work and truly believe that what we are doing is going to help our people, in ways we can only imagine.
– K’odi Nelson, Executive Director