Indigenous communities on the frontline of climate change action
A young start-up is collaborating with Indigenous communities to develop and sell carbon offsets.
Anwaatin, which means “calm weather” in Ojibway, is a social economy business that helps Indigenous communities fight climate change, while creating value. The company is located a few kilometres south of Hamilton, Ontario, on the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation reserve, where it works together with local partners to develop wind farms, sustainable forest management programs or companies that practise sustainable fishing. These projects allow Anwaatin to generate carbon offsets, which it sells to organizations and businesses interested in reducing their environmental impact.
Created in 2015, Anwaatin sells carbon offsets to charitable organizations, businesses and even individuals. One of their main clients is The Neighbourhood Group, a B Corp certified local restaurant chain in Guelph. “Buying carbon offsets is a way of helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are major contributors to climate change,” explained Mary-Kate Gilbertson, business development manager at Anwaatin. “Many individuals, businesses and organizations are turning to carbon offsets to neutralize the carbon footprint that remains after their other emission reduction efforts. Businesses in the restaurant industry are becoming increasingly interested in this due to their high energy consumption levels.”
Founded by Larry Sault, an Indigenous entrepreneur himself, the organization aims to build business relationships not only with Ontario’s Indigenous communities, but also with such communities in Manitoba, Quebec, even California, as well as interested non-Indigenous individuals or groups. “We believe that fighting climate change and revitalizing relationships between the various Canadian communities are two paths that are coming together.”
To further demonstrate its socio-environmental commitment, the young company decided to seek B Corp certification. “We are currently under evaluation and will be getting the results very soon.” In the meantime, Anwaatin is part of the cohort of 20 start-ups selected for the Centre for Social Innovation’s Agents of Change program, which is dedicated to climate change solutions this year.
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