In 2013, seven years after founding BUILD, I co-founded Aki Energy. This non-profit social enterprise employs First Nations communities in green energy and health food initiatives, and reaches more communities every year. The job now is to engage the new Canadian government so that we can remove the barriers preventing the re-emergence of the local economy.
After over a decade in the social purpose field, I have just written a book called An Army of Problem Solvers: Reconciliation and the Solutions Economy. A cross-Canada book tour starts this September. The book talks about problem solvers and what they can do to improve Canadian society. Why are there no gardens in Garden Hill First Nation? What does reconciliation really mean for Canada? In all of this there is a new role for government: it must shift from focusing on problems to focusing on problem solvers.
With a personal mandate to build the conditions for prosperity, Shaun is transforming the framework for building successful social enterprises by leveraging success in the creation of community run and locally owned green social businesses. He is combating economic and employment barriers by establishing a market which addresses the employment needs of Canada’s First Nations communities, while simultaneously lowering the green house gas emissions produced due to poor energy infrastructure and insufficient financial support. His vision is all encompassing, first, targeting and mitigating significant employment barriers such as criminal backgrounds, lack of formal education and substance abuse issues, then equipping segments of the aboriginal community that are most vulnerable to unemployment with training in an extensive range of advanced, modern green energy methods such as, solar power, home retrofitting, and geo-thermal infrastructure development.
Shaun sees these modern energy technologies as the best fit solutions for putting First Nations led local economies at the forefront of a growing national and international green energy sector. As such, Shaun is reversing the effects of decades of a growing poverty and unemployment crisis of Canada’s First Nations peoples. His work weaves together the issues of greenhouse gas emissions, job creation, prosperity and indigenous well-being, by challenging public, private and citizen sectors alike to acknowledge the inherent and undeniable new reality of greener localized economies. His framework is simple yet successful in building livelihoods and sets the stage for scale and replication across Canada and throughout North America.
Using the methodology of building a “prosperity ladder” in collaboration with Indigenous communities across Manitoba, Shaun has a established a growing network of indigenous-owned and operated social businesses mandated with creating jobs for hundreds of individuals and improving the energy burdens of the community in which it serves.