Earth Day: Creating a Better World for Our Future Generations

Written by Chelsey Brassard, Marketing Assistant

This Earth Day, we pay respect to the First Nations, Métis and Inuit people who are the traditional guardians of this land, Turtle Island. We acknowledge their long standing relationship with this territory, which remains unceded. We acknowledge the traditional knowledge keepers, both young and old. And we honour their courageous leaders: past, present, and future.

Today, we are highlighting members of the uOttawa community who rely on Indigenous values and sustainability to give back to Mother Earth in their entrepreneurial journeys. We want to spread awareness of their ventures and inspire others to follow in their footsteps to create a better world for our future generations.

*The ventures are listed in alphabetical order, followed by the name of the uOttawa community member (alum, club, group, staff or student).

Growcer

Growing Food for Indigenous Communities in Shipping Containers

Alida Burke and Corey Ellis, uOttawa Alumni

Growcer was founded by students Alida Burke and Corey Ellis while studying at the University of Ottawa. The company builds specialized hydroponic growing systems in shipping containers to help empower communities to grow food locally. For the past five years, they have worked closely with communities across Canada, wherever they are, to collectively determine how to grow food locally. They have even deployed their technology in the Arctic Circle below -50 °C! Growcer provides the tools and technologies needed for the community, while supporting the process with expert advice. They are changing people’s lifestyles and eating habits, hoping to supply the fresh food the community needs.

Hempergy

Using Hemp for Construction, Cosmetic and Textile Purposes

Zaffia Laplante, diplômée uOttawa Alumna

Zaffia Laplante is a Métis woman, licensed Canadian hemp farmer and the Founder of Hempergy, an initiative working to use hemp in more materials for non-food use. Hempergy is currently working with partners who have developed the machinery to decorticate hemp stalks into raw materials, and are seeking to commercialize the use of this machine to make it accessible to farmers across the region. Hempergy is still in the research stage, and seeks funding in order to purchase raw materials, decorticate stalks, test packaging formulations and work alongside industry partners before marketing and distributing sustainable products.

HerBraids

Bringing Awareness and Helping to Make Clean Drinking Water in First Nations Communities a Reality, One Pendant at a Time

Sunshine Tenasco, uOttawa Alumna

Sunshine Tenasco is a First Nations mother of four from Kitigan Zibi Anishinaabe. She is a social entrepreneur who launched HerBraids, a business that creates awareness about clean drinking water in the First Nations communities through jewelry pendants, workshops and authoring children’s books. Sunshine is also the author of Nibi’s Water Song, a book about a young girl named Nibi, the Anishinaabemowin word for water. In the book, Nibi is searching for clean water to drink. Her joyful determination to find water carries an optimistic message about working together to bring change.

Moontime Sisters

Sending Period Products to Indigenous Communities

Campus Club Presidents: Khadija Aliyeva and Hiba Zafar, uOttawa Students

The Moon Time Sisters is a volunteer-led organization that began in March 2017. As a project part of True North Aid, they partner with over 30 northern Indigenous communities in Ontario, Quebec, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories to supply people who menstruate with free period products. Moon Time Sisters Ontario works with each Indigenous community to ensure these products are accessible to everyone in the community. All items are collected through various groups across Ontario, one of them here at the University of Ottawa. The Moon Time Sisters Club on campus arranges drives and fundraisers to send all Moon Time related items such as pads, tampons, cloth pads, menstrual cups, and natural pain relief. Since their inception in Fall 2021, the club has collected over 3600 individual products.

Project Nibi

Creating a Sustainable Way to Tackle the Water Crisis Affecting Indigenous Communities

Campus Group Leaders: Michelle Wronski, Amanda Featherstone, Arthik Sundralingam, Alexandra Whiteduck and Summer Wabasse, uOttawa Students

Project Nibi is a student-led social enterprise focused on investigating and creating a sustainable way to tackle the water crisis affecting Indigenous communities across Canada. Nibi works with communities to test their water, identify purification solutions and create workshops to allow community members to monitor and take ownership of their drinking water. The group is looking to bring in new speakers and partners to speak on the crisis, deploy workshops to high schools to increase visibility and volunteer missions, and partner with the Faculty of Engineering Mentorship Program for Indigenous youth. Project Nibi is also hosting an annual Black-Tie Gala in the fall to showcase their work, highlight Indigenous artists and ultimately raise money for Indigenous communities.

Running Water Activity Book

Engaging and Educating People in Water Conservation in an Interactive Way

Rae Landriau, uOttawa Alum

Running Water is a book made in partnership with the Ocean Bridge Program from Ocean Wise. This activity book incorporates traditional knowledge, the work of Indigenous Water warriors with western science. Running Water was developed in Ottawa Ontario, by Rae Landriau, which is built on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe territory. Rae’s goals in creating this book were to: engage folks in water conservation, in an interactive way; Educate and guide others in their learning about water systems and their role in protecting them; And bring awareness to discussions about other water related issues, such as plastic pollution, chemical pollution, and climate change. Request a digital copy here.

*This feature was published celebrating Earth Day, 2022.

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