VICTORIA – The Indigenous Prosperity Centre has announced Christina Clarke as its inaugural Executive Director.
Created in 2021 by South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP), the Indigenous Prosperity Centre (IPC) is an Indigenous-led initiative to support Indigenous interests and enhance economic reconciliation on southern Vancouver Island.
Clarke’s wealth of experience includes First Nations governance, policy and law development, community engagement and economic development. She was most recently CEO of the Songhees Development Corporation.
Clarke honours both her NunatuKavut (Inuit-European of Labrador) grandmother and her Irish-born grandfather. “My ancestors walked in two worlds and I do also in my work today.”
In 2022, she was 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. Clarke earned a Certificate in First Nations Tax Administration from Thompson Rivers University and the Tulo Centre for Indigenous Economics.
“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 November 2020.
Indigenous Leaders noted their economies were hit hard by the pandemic, which exacerbated pre-COVID-19 challenges with infrastructure, training and workforce development, and access to capital for business development. 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.”
Partnership (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, CEO of SIPP. “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 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.
She says “the focus is on connecting with communities and entrepreneurs on an individual level. Every community has unique goals, and we want to ensure we support the growth they want.”
IPC is supported in its work by two major funding partners, each committed to growing and promoting the South Island’s Indigenous Economy. CIBC and Vancity have provided significant investment to help launch the Centre.