Coffee production takes a lot of water and produces a wonderful bean filtered drink at the end. In Canada many aboriginal communities are suffering from a lack of potable water let alone good coffee. The plight of these communities enrages Canadians since one of the wealthiest nations in the world can’t even provide drinkable water for its citizens. Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow saw the hardships faced in these communities and decide to do something: make coffee that will fund sustainable healthy potable water.
More than just a coffee company, Birch Bark is a social enterprise: $2.50 from the sale of every pound of coffee will go into a trust to purchase water purifiers for every home in an Indigenous community in Ontario that’s experiencing water issues.
“I really can’t fix the bigger problem of the water plant, but I can definitely bring clean water into a home instantly,” Marsolais-Nahwegahbow said. “And when I’m done Ontario, I’m moving my way across Canada to work on every province.”
Thanks to the Resilience art project from now until August art is being shown on billboards from coast to coast in Canada. You can locate billboards near you (or on your travels) via their map. It’s a creative way to use billboards to make the world a better place instead of filled with the same old consumer messages. Images by 50 First Nations, Inuit and Métis women artists are being featured not only as an artistic act but also as a political act.
The Resilience billboard exhibition is a response to Call to Action #79 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report: the integration of “Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.” The call supports collaborations among Aboriginal peoples and the arts community to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This project is Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art – MAWA’s answer to that call: a creative act of reconciliation, and a public celebration and commemoration of the work of Indigenous women artists, who are still vastly under-represented, not only in positions of power in commerce and politics, but within the art world as well.
With greater awareness of environmental and social issues investors have asked companies to report on how their activities impact communities. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports are standard for large corporations nowadays which let investors (and interested parties) see what the company has been up to reconcile any negative impacts the company has perpetuated. Increasingly, investors are asking for CSR statements to include indigenous issues since companies that ignore local concerns tend to perform worse, a good example of this is the recent debacle of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In Canada and around the world, we are entering a time where the prudent company is the company that secures Indigenous consent before beginning activities, involves Indigenous peoples as partners, and works with them to establish a clear framework for ongoing relations in order to renew and maintain relationships. For investors, strong Indigenous relations are a marker that a company is a stable investment, with management foresight, solid partnerships and prospects for sustainable growth.