Above, Dr. Rick Colbourne will spend the next year as a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of Arizona.
Research into Indigenous entrepreneurship and the factors that limit the entrepreneurial capacity of indigenous peoples will be the focus for a UNBC Adjunct/Visiting professor who has been named a recipient of a 2016 Fulbright Scholar Award.
Dr. Rick Colbourne, who has been an instructor in UNBC’s Master of Business Administration program in Prince George and Vancouver for the past three years, will take on the role of Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Indigenous Entrepreneurship at the University of Arizona.
Colbourne says Indigenous entrepreneurship is not just about money, it is about history, traditions, culture and language embedded in time and traditional territory. It is the creation, management and development of new ventures by Indigenous people for the benefit of Indigenous people. While Indigenous peoples in Canada embody strong incentives for entrepreneurship, their marginalized status carries a number of liabilities that prevents them from realizing their entrepreneurial potential.
Encouraged by court rulings affirming and clarifying rights, Indigenous communities across Canada are redefining the nature of their participation in economic development opportunities that occur on or near their traditional territories based on rights to the land, assets and resources that are foundational to developing sustainable Indigenous business and entrepreneurship activities. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for improving Indigenous economic outcomes.
For Indigenous entrepreneurship to thrive there needs to be a supportive infrastructure in place that is responsive to the particular issues and challenges faced by Indigenous communities. There is a need to develop insights into the current practices of Indigenous entrepreneurship and the formation of Indigenous entrepreneurship ecosystems.
“The creation of sustainable Indigenous entrepreneurial ecosystems requires understanding the range of factors involved in developing an inclusive, just and sustainable ecosystem for Indigenous peoples that contributes to innovation in Canada,” he says. “There is a lack of research that focuses on the needs and experiences of Indigenous peoples, not only in Canada and the United States but globally. Encouraged by court rulings affirming and clarifying rights, Indigenous communities across Canada are redefining the nature of their participation in economic development opportunities that occur on or near their traditional territories based on Indigenous rights and title that are foundational to developing sustainable Indigenous entrepreneurship. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for improving Indigenous economic outcomes.”
Colbourne says that while entrepreneurial ecosystems have the potential to foster sustainable economic development, it is unclear how this relates to the diverse experiences, geographic locales and differential access to land and resources experienced by Indigenous peoples.
Colbourne will use his time abroad as an opportunity to collaborate with other researchers, to explore the experiences of American Indigenous peoples and to compare this with the Canadian experience, and develop models of Indigenous entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystems that help build strong, sustainable communities focused on preserving and building their cultures. As well, he has been asked to design and deliver the University of Arizona’s first Indigenous Entrepreneurship program, and anticipates it will be offered to Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in the spring. He will be facilitating sessions in Indigenous communities in the United States and Canada as part of his research activities.
“I am looking forward to meeting and developing collaborative relationships with other Indigenous scholars that will contribute to improving the well-being of Indigenous peoples (on their own terms) both in Canada and globally,” says Colbourne.
Colbourne has worked with Indigenous communities in Canada for several years. He says his research will help build on the insights and understandings he gained in designing and delivering programs for Indigenous business students and senior leaders in BC, Canada and internationally, including New Zealand.
His past experience includes the post of Assistant Dean of Indigenous Business at the Sauder School of Business at UBC (first Dean of Indigenous Business in Canada), the Executive Director with the Learning Strategies Group in the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, and collaborated with the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business (ICAB) in designing and delivering the ICAB Leadership Exchange. Last year, Colbourne earned a UNBC University Achievement Award for Teaching.
Fulbright Canada, the Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States of America, is a binational, treaty-based, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization with a mandate to identify the best and brightest minds in both countries and engage them in residential academic exchange.