The past month was truly an eventful one at Groundswell, with the launch of our Youth Employment and Microbusiness Program, and we were very grateful to have Curtis Rattray, Founder of Wholistic Indigenous Leadership Development™ (W.I.L.D) and Edziza Trails Aboriginal Adventures, as our key facilitator.
A member of the Crow clan and Nalokoteen (end of the ridge nation) of the Tahltan Nation and his Tahltan name is ‘Ninth glun adz,’ Curtis also gives capacity building services for First Nations and aboriginal organizations.
Curtis is an experienced backcountry hiker and camper, who's spent extensive time working in the aboriginal rights and title sector, and is committed in his pursuit of "decolonizing Canada one backpacker at a time."
He has so generously shared his time, talent, and passion for creating values-based ventures, not only to the participants of Groundswell’s Youth Program but also to a wider audience at Doing Things Differently: EduAction Igniting a New Economy - a panel on social entrepreneurship and alternative education.
We celebrated the start of the Youth Program with a screening of Colours of Edziza, a documentary Curtis was part of - which tells the story of a small group of friends, from different cultures, backgrounds and generations, who challenge themselves to the most demanding traverse of their lives across two remote mountain ranges in the rugged Tahltan First Nation territory of northern British Columbia—one of the last naturally intact places in the world.
Curtis shares, "Colours of Edziza is about the value of working together: We are not inherently violent beings - that is a myth. We are social beings." This was among his key takeaways from the experience taking a diverse group hiking the Edziza trails (and this adventure forming a documentary).
At the #EduAction panel, which happened the day after, he shared an observation. Convinced from his interactions with and around nature and people for most of his work: "There is an environmental crisis because there is a humanitarian crisis" - as evidenced by the lack of respect humans have for nature and each other.
On the discussion of what kind of social business should one create, he had this response: "Building a venture entails passion and one's ability to take risks. But having a business that is reflective of your lifestyle is what makes a 'sustainable business.' "
He also stressed the importance of sharing Tahltan knowledge, stories of respect and kinship - which were motivations for his venture - one that's hugely based on an aboriginal, cultural perspective.
We can't thank Curtis enough for sharing his time (driving for 20+ hours to Vancouver!) to share his valuable insights in creating a lifestyle business that speaks of one's values and resonates with others.