Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to receive six credits from Vancouver Island University.
In small and geographically-isolated communities on the west coast, people seeking leadership skills had few local learning opportunities and a limited ability to engage in collaborative economic development activities. Despite the relative geographic proximity of these First Nations and non First Nations communities, economic development initiatives were occurring in isolation.
The West Coast Leadership Initiative project allowed current and emerging leaders of eight communities to develop critical skills, knowledge and relationships to undertake regional economic development initiatives. The 10 month program brings 24 people from 8 First Nation and non First Nations communities together each month. Sessions are held in each community, allowing all participants to gain an understanding of the region’s economic challenges and potential. The process and results will lead to a shareable best practices model for other communities to use.
Led by the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, several community economic development projects are being conducted while a network of relationships are being established. This problem-based learning approach represents a new way of thinking about economic development. The pilot project, completed in 2014, has already built a culture of collaboration and community-based leadership that can function across organizational and municipal boundaries. A new generation of leaders is already working together toward a prosperous economic and social future capitalizing on the region’s assets.