The newly formed Indigenous Prosperity Centre has appointed Christina Clarke as its inaugural Executive Director.
Created in 2021 by South Island Prosperity Partnership, the Indigenous Prosperity Centre (IPC) is an Indigenous-led initiative to support Indigenous interests and enhance economic reconciliation on southern Vancouver Island.
Clarke was most recently CEO of the Songhees Development Corporation, and her experience includes First Nations governance, policy and law development, community engagement and economic development. She was also recently appointed to the University of Victoria’s Board of Governors, where she is an alum with a Bachelor of Arts in Canadian History and Anthropology.
“I am honoured by the opportunity to contribute to regional Indigenous economic development,” says Clarke. “We have all the ingredients for a thriving economy and true prosperity, defined in the broadest sense to include well-being for everyone and our environment. To get there, we need to work as One. As we bring our strengths together, across all sectors, in an ecosystem that supports innovation, collaboration and inclusion, the Indigenous Prosperity Centre will create a connection point for Indigenous business and communities.”
The call to action for an Indigenous-led economic development organization on southern Vancouver Island was raised by Indigenous leaders participating in the Rising Economy Taskforce’s Indigenous Economy Committee and emphasized as one of the 10 Pillars of Recovery in Reboot: Greater Victoria’s Economic Recovery Plan, released in 2020.
The Reboot report said that “ensuring Indigenous workers and businesses are fully included in recovery is what will lead to a truly resilient and prosperous economy.” Responding to that call for action, Indigenous leaders, together with SIPP, formed an IPC Committee to create the framework and attract seed funding.
“We need to support the promotion and growth of the Indigenous economy,” says Emilie de Rosenroll, SIPP CEO. “We will all benefit greatly from the expansion of Indigenous innovation, practices, and economic leadership. Christina Clarke is well respected for her dedication to collaboration and strengthening Indigenous economic development.”
Clarke’s priority is engaging with local Indigenous leaders. She, along with members of the IPC Working Committee, assisted by Indigenomics Institute CEO Carol Anne Hilton, are embarking upon a Learning Tour to listen to the needs and goals of each First Nation in the South Island region.
Kear Porttris, Director Indigenous Relations, QM Environmental, and member of the IPC Working Committee says “economic opportunities for Indigenous people, communities and businesses are rapidly growing and I’ve been lucky to be able to work with the IPC team to be at the cutting edge of this work.
IPC will help provide support to those who need or want it to maximize their benefit from these opportunities by providing a platform for industry and proponents to connect with Indigenous businesses to achieve their goals. It will bring people together who are passionate about business and Indigenous inclusion to help be change makers in our space.”
CIBC and Vancity have provided significant investment to help launch the Centre. “We’ve worked with [them] on several initiatives for SIPP,” says de Rosenroll. “Both have stepped up in a big way, with a genuine desire to help strengthen the local Indigenous economy.”
To learn more about the Indigenous Prosperity Centre, visit www.indigenous-prosperity.ca.