Now more than ever, it’s valuable to find stories of people doing inspiring things to build up their communities. Look no further than Tsimshian entrepreneur, Jacob Beaton. Jacob is a 2009 Indigenous Business Award (Young Entrepreneur of the Year) recipient, recognized for his innovative full-service Indigenous communications company.
These days he’s pivoted to a new career, and ever the entrepreneur, he’s bringing innovation to this new role as well. Jacob and his wife Jessica, run Tea Creek Farm on a small farm near Kitwanga, between Smithers and Terrace. During COVID their region was particularly hard hit by food insecurity.
Jacob and Jessica knew they had to help increase local agricultural production. They set on a mission to make produce more accessible and more affordable to their local community partly by helping train others to use agro-ecological techniques to increase food production.
To take it a step further, Jacob began collaborating with local First Nations to offer them agricultural training. However, there was a shortage of skilled workers to farm the land so the Beatons started a pilot project, called Indigenous Youth Works.
On Tea Creek farm, 46 Indigenous youth have recently completed a two-month skills training program through Indigenous Youth Works. Teaching agro-ecological techniques, training northern First Nations communities, and increasing production and self-reliance is all part of the plan. “In order to have a resilient economy we need a diverse and well-trained workforce.” says Jacob.
The benefits have been many so far, providing a culturally relevant experience, teaching skills to youth — many who come from low-income families, and bringing in partnerships for financial support. Along with training and mentorship, the youth also received an employment wage. “Through our food sovereignty program, we focus on a wide range of skills training and experience in a culturally safe environment that also produces a lot of food!”
It’s a win-win for northern communities and another example of Indigenous businesses strengthening the BC economy.
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