Ocean Supercluster launches initiative to increase Indigenous participation in ocean economy

Atlantic Ocean
The global innovation cluster is contributing $230,000 for the first phase of the initiative.

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC) has announced an initiative meant to foster greater inclusion and participation of Indigenous organizations and communities in the country’s ocean economy.

OSC, one of Canada’s five Global Innovation Clusters, is investing $230,000 in the first phase of the “Two-Eyed Seeing Initiative” to promote meaningful engagement of Indigenous communities. It is being led by Indigenous-focused professional services provider SOAR, along with Indigrow Business Management and Dillon Consulting (which created SOAR).

Engagement with Indigenous communities prior to the launch of the initiative has allowed OSC to have 54 Indigenous collaborators and 38 participants in OSC Indigenous-focused programs.

According to OSC, work on the Two-Eyed Seeing Initiative began in early December and is expected to continuously inform OSC policy and program development over the coming year.

The concept of “two-eyed seeing” or etuaptmumk is the infusion of Indigenous knowledge and Western science to see the world from both perspectives. Through the Two-Eyed Seeing Initiative, OSC intends to take several steps to increase engagement with Indigenous people in Canada that are developing solutions for the ocean sector. This includes developing a “Two-Eyed Seeing” Indigenous Traditional Knowledge framework that will guide OSC’s organizational and Indigenous community relationships through “shared understanding and an integrated body of ocean knowledge.”

Though launched at the end of this year, a spokesperson for OSC said that the start of the Two-Eyed Seeing Initiative began almost two years ago with the engagement of Indigenous organizations and thought leaders to identify how the OSC could collaborate more with Indigenous partners on projects.

“The launch of the initiative in the last year of our five-year mandate will propel our future efforts to … put in place concrete and absolute measures to develop beneficial partnerships with Indigenous peoples that focus on building stronger communities,” the spokesperson said.

The Two-Eyed Seeing Initiative’s purpose goes beyond engaging more with Indigenous groups, however. Ralph Eldrige, the Indigenous engagement lead for OSC, said that the cluster intends to “drive system change within the ecosystem that focuses on fostering relationships, elevating opportunities for Indigenous communities, and setting our course as a sector towards reconciliation.”

OSC was created under Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative in 2017, which has since been rebranded to Global Innovation Clusters. In addition to the ocean cluster, the others are dedicated to digital technology, protein industries, advanced manufacturing, and artificial intelligence.

RELATED: Ocean Supercluster provides collective $5.2 million to four new projects

The clusters were established to encourage industry and academic actors to collaborate on large-scale projects with the goal of accelerating growth across several industries. Led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), funding flows into the clusters through co-investments by government and industry, with an expectation of dollar-for-dollar matching.

Of the $1 billion that the federal government committed to the Global Innovation Clusters, $153 million has been allocated to OSC.

Since its inception, OSC claims that it has approved 86 projects with a total value of more than 390 million. These projects are expected to deliver more than 120 made-in-Canada ocean products, processes, and services to sell to the world.

The OSC said that its engagement with Indigenous communities prior to the launch of the Two-Eyed Seeing Initiative has allowed the cluster to have 26 Indigenous member companies, 54 Indigenous collaborators in its projects, and 38 participants in OSC Indigenous-focused programs.

Featured image courtesy Unsplash.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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