How I Spent My Summer Vacation
|Anne Mease (Photo by Liam Richards)|
Study Explores Native Entrepreneurship Across Globe
Monday, September 18, 2006
(>Sixth in a Series)
By David Hutton and Charles Hamilton
for The StarPhoenix
A journey of discovery from New Zealand to Arizona and back to Canada has sparked ideas among a group of University of Saskatchewan researchers that could help revitalize Canada's aboriginal economy.
“This gives us some new perspective,” says Anne Mease, a master’s student in native studies. “If groups in
Mease is one of seven participants in the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce-sponsored research program, offered through the
“Participants are offered an international experience that will broaden their knowledge of the global agricultural and bio-resource industries,” says Thomas Allen, CIBC Scholar in Agricultural Entrepreneurship, and one of the professors supervising the project.
“These students are acquiring the skills needed to become industry leaders here at home.”
They visited and studied successful Maori ventures throughout the country – everything from a wetland restoration project to wine production to mussel farming.
“The Maori people have been able to take land that was worth nothing and turn it into prime, productive property.”
Maori people have also developed a lucrative eco-tourism industry, showcasing traditional lifestyle and customs.
This summer, the group took another trip to the southwestern
The GRIC now manages one of the most successful citrus farms in the United States.
All three contingents were then invited on a five-day tour of
The North American tour finished in Saskatoon with a conference that featured Aboriginal agriculture representatives from New Zealand, U.S. and Canada , bringing together a variety of perspectives on the future of Aboriginal agricultural and bio-resource industries.
“This is about ideas,” says Allen. “We want to find out what is and what’s not working with regard to Aboriginal economies and innovation.”
Allen and others are looking at successful marketing techniques, such as Aboriginal branding and labeling, which have been implemented in
He says this experience not only exposed participants to new forms of agriculture and Aboriginal innovation, but put them in touch with the world-wide Aboriginal agriculture community.
“I hope that the contacts and the networks developed by the participants will last a lifetime, that this year’s students will assist in offering parts of the program in future years, and that a formal, or informal, association of graduates will be created,” says Allen.
Mease hopes that what she has learned will help with her master’s thesis – a comprehensive study of land management issues surrounding her own Selkirk First Nation in the Yukon.
She is optimistic that the confidence and fresh thinking inspired by these two extraordinary expeditions will help bolster
For any Aboriginal economy to flourish, she says Aboriginal communities need to be open to new ideas. “If the Maori and American Indians could do that kind of thing in 20 years, we could do it 20 years,” she says. “This gives us hope.”
(This article is part of a partnership initiative between The StarPhoenix and
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