Calibrating Your Mindset Ahead of SEWF

Calibrating Your Mindset Ahead of SEWF

Taking social enterprise from the head to the heart

Dr. Wanda Wuttunee will share an experiential approach to mindsets focusing on gifts during the opening session of the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) on Oct. 3.

This session, which may even include the gift of song, aims to help attendees make the most of their journey over the following two days.

“We need to have a holistic way of communicating and it isn't always talking at each other. A lot can be said in other ways,” says the director of the aboriginal business education program at the University of Manitoba's Asper School of Business. She hopes to reach people on a level that “moves from the head to the heart.”

“I think social enterprise is the forum for that kind of discussion,” she says.

 
  Dr. Wanda Wuttunee

The author of Living Rhythms: Lessons in Aboriginal Economic Resilience and Vision also plans to shed light on a case study in aboriginal social enterprise in Winnipeg, called Neechi Commons.

The project comes out of a worker co-op called Neechi Foods, which operated for 24 years until it could materialize its grander vision this year. Neechi Commons (Neechi meaning friend/sister/brother in Cree and Ojibwa) is an aboriginal owned and operated community arts store, restaurant, supermarket, and fruit and vegetable courtyard located in an area which otherwise offers a 7-Eleven for obtaining groceries. As a worker co-op, the commons prioritizes providing employment for people from Winnipeg's inner city.

In understanding what can be learned form aboriginal social enterprise, it's critical to realize that this is not something new. Social enterprise is what Aboriginal Peoples have always done; they just didn't call it that.

“It comes out of the values and the way that communities had to work for people to survive. They had to rely on each other, to support each other and that continued on in their economic activity,” Wanda says.

“The greatest opportunity is for Aboriginal Peoples to appreciate the value in what they're doing. Because of our history, sometimes we don't realize what our gifts are for the larger society,” she says.

If people better understand what many aboriginal communities have done or do it is “an opportunity to build a stronger relationship within the community and outside it,” she adds.

When thinking about social enterprise, Wanda encourages people to take their vision to a personal level.

“If you want something to change, don't just look to the government. Encourage them to support the programs that are working, but really think about what you're going to do to build the community that you would like to see,” she says.

“Social enterprise, business and community economic development are vehicles for being creative about what you want to accomplish.”

For more information about Dr. Wanda Wuttunee's session at SEWF, which is taking place in Calgary, AB, click here.

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