GUEST COMMENT: Tides Canada does good work in the North

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The publisher of NNSL Media lobbed me a bit of a softball in his article “Krause talk buries obvious conclusion,” inviting me to share with readers about Tides Canada and the work it does in the North. It would be remiss of me if I did not take a swing.

Steve Ellis is the Northern Canada program leader for Tides Canada
Stephen Ellis is the Northern Canada program leader for Tides Canada

First, I must make it quite clear that Tides Canada is a separate organization with no legal, financial, or governance ties to the U.S. Tides Foundation. Sometimes the two organizations are confused with each other given the similarity in names.

Tides Canada is a leading national charity that promotes a healthy environment, social equity and economic prosperity for all Canadians. This is a profoundly Canadian aspiration that I dare say is shared by all of us, especially us Northerners.

Tides Canada is governed by some exemplary Canadians, including a venture capitalist, a chief of staff to a past prime minister, an executive with deep experience in the energy sector and a territorial deputy minister, to name just a few. These are hardly “environmental activists.”

Tides Canada has an annual budget of about $30M, most of which comes from Canadian donors. Approximately $3M of Tides Canada’s budget goes to the Northern Program, which my colleagues and I use to invest in community-led initiatives across the three territories and Inuit Nunangat. What we lack in financial might, we endeavour to make up for with innovation, leadership and collaboration. With our partners, we attempt to blaze trails by trying out new ideas, testing creative models and forging relationships with strange bedfellows in the hopes of providing solutions to some of our key Northern challenges.

I am extremely proud of the great work we are enabling across the North. Tides Canada supports next generation leaders and their networks, be they cultural revitalization initiatives led by Dene Nahjo and the Yellowknife Rainbow Coalition, or Beaufort Delta leadership training led by BYTE Yukon. Through the NWT On The Land Collaborative, we partner with Indigenous governments, NGOs, the GNWT and the North’s major diamond producers to enable on-the-land wellness and education opportunities for schools and communities.

Through our EntrepreNorth program, we invest in early stage Northern entrepreneurs to accelerate economic diversification. We support land and water stewardship efforts by contributing to community-based monitoring and guardian programs, from the Nahendeh Kehotsendi program of the Katl’odeeche First Nation to the Marian Lake Watershed Stewardship Program of the Tłı̨chǫ Government.

Most recently, we have committed resources to various Indigenous language revitalization efforts. For a full listing of our grants and their stories go to tidescanada.org.

Yes, Tides Canada is in this for the long haul. Solutions to Northern challenges will require sustained support from, and collaboration among, all sectors. Our Northern population is too small and our challenges too significant for us to dismiss and demonize each other, no matter what our values might be. We need to stop painting each other as anti-mining radicals or anti-environment lobbyists. We must work together.

Perhaps we can all learn a thing or two from the publisher of this paper’s daughter, who works for Tides Canada, and her partner, who works for the diamond industry. Ultimately their values and efforts complement each other, and with hard work they are journeying together in a common direction.

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