Victoria-based startup helps Indigenous sovereignty

Plus, a business leader gets vocal about government policy, and learn how to make a smart marketing strategy.


Welcome to this week’s Sunday Briefing, brought to you by Switchboard. In this issue, meet the startup pursuing social and economic good for Indigenous communities, catch up with a local tech consulting firm, and find out which industry is facing commitment issues.

-Allison, @allisongacad

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ChinookX is building tech solutions for Indigenous peoples

Photo: Trevor Jang

Trevor Jang didn’t grow up in his community, he tells Victoria Tech Journal. Jang, who is Likhsilyu — or Small Frog Clan — of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation on his mother’s side, and Chinese-Canadian on his father’s side, reconnected with his Indigenous identity as a young adult when he pursued communications work for his chief and band council. Here, Jang explained, was where he witnessed first-hand the impacts of colonization on the foundations of information about his people.

“We don't even have census data on our clan membership. All that is through the Indian Act lens,” said Jang. “So it's very colonial in nature, and it has never really met our needs as Wet'suwet'en people.”

Jang realized the necessity of building a database of clan membership from the ground up, which would include demographic information, skills, education, and more. As he explored the idea, he learned it wasn’t a problem unique to the Wet’suwet’en First Nation — there were Indigenous communities all over the province facing the same issue.

The common problem prompted Jang to co-found ChinookX: a Victoria-based, majority-Indigenous-owned company, with aims to bring social and economic benefits to Indigenous communities through emerging technologies. Its first area of focus is data sovereignty: a topic Jang also explored while co-authoring Animikii’s #DataBack e-book.

ChinookX is currently in its proof-of-concept stage, pursuing engagement with First Nations across B.C. to advance its mission. The startup received private investment in 2022, and is in the process of raising more funds from both public and private sources. While Jang is beginning with the foundations of data in his own community, the company has a grand vision at the intersection of data sovereignty, reconciliation, and the energy transition for Indigenous peoples, in what Jang calls an Indigenous Innovation District.

“This is our concept of a data center, powered by an Indigenous-owned clean energy asset,” said Jang. “High-performance computer servers generate heat. You can put these in a building and you can recycle the [heat] to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions for the building that you put [the servers] in. Indigenous Innovation Districts would have the infrastructure to support Indigenous-owned clean energy smart grids, powered by data.”


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🏙️ Community catchup, powered by VIATEC

This month, we’re featuring VIATEC member RFDM Solutions, a boutique technology consulting firm based in downtown Victoria. The company offers full-stack marketing and sales technology expertise, with experience creating cutting-edge websites, digital marketing campaigns, and custom software solutions for clients all over North America. At the 2022 Victoria Tech Community Awards, chief operating officer Karren Le Gear was a finalist for Emerging Leader of the Year.

📰 More Victoria innovation news

♻️ Commitment issues: Joanna Buczkowska-McCumber writes in the Impact Brief: Companies Leaning In and Leaning Out of Sustainability Commitments.

🌊 Making waves: COAST was featured in Entrevestor’s 2022 Oceantech report.

🤝 Bridge-building: Leading up to Collision in Toronto next week, local Indigenous tech firm Animikii authored an article about how tech can commit to truth and reconciliation.

🩸Always room for improvement: Linda Biggs, co-founder and co-CEO of Joni, appeared in Ottawa to welcome recent changes to the Labour Code by the federal government, which gives free access to period products in all federally regulated workplaces: Period inflation? Why more workplaces are being urged to offer free pads and tampons.

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