Savannah Zachary

I want to help communities and their members create positive and lasting change and opportunities for their future children.

Tell us about your current work in your community.

Currently I am a Community Engagement Coordinator at Co-operatives First, which is a business organization based in Saskatoon that works with communities and groups across Western Canada. We provide support and resources for those who are interested in and are starting a co-operative business.

Originally from Kelowna BC, I moved in Vancouver in 2014 to complete my masters in Indigenous Community Planning at UBC, and from there moved to Saskatoon in early 2018.

During my time in Vancouver, I volunteered at WISH Drop-In Centre in DTES Vancouver as an administrative assistant. During my time at UBC, I was a research intern with CRUW (Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness) where we took at risk aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth to the UBC farm where they learned about gardening and gained personal skills. I interviewed the participants about their experiences and conducted data entry.

I was also involved with Kanuu Indigenous Innovation Society, where during Kanuu’s program launch in March in Yorktown and Saskatoon Saskatchewan, I organized volunteers and conducted outreach with local organizations. 

Tell us about a time you brought people together to improve your community?

While in Saskatoon getting ready for Kanuu's launch, I spent time connecting with similar organizations to encourage people to come to the networking and engagement sessions. I connected with over 20 organizations that supported Kanuu's session, and through this work, lead to the collaboration with Square One, which is a business resource centre for entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan.

Through the workshop in Yorktown and the networking session in Saskatoon, many people came and told me how the workshop and session had changed their lives, and how they felt encouraged to pursue their dreams. One participant wants her business to provide space and services for culturally appropriate funeral ceremonies for her community.

What problems are you trying to solve?

I want to solve economic, social, and health inequality, particularly in Indigenous communities. I want to help communities create sustainable economic and social solutions that are unique to their needs and goals, both at an individual level and community level. I want to help youth to feel that they have hope and they have the power and support to create meaningful change and opportunities wherever they are. I want to help communities and their members create positive and lasting change and opportunities for their future children.

What are you hoping to learn in order to solve those problems?

I am looking forward to learning more about co-operative economics, indigenomics and locanomics. I want to learn how I can help community members tease out opportunities from their passions and goals, and help find ways to make them viable. I also want to learn how to create economic development and community plans that support more sustainable practices and supports social enterprises.

What are the most powerful questions you are asking right now?

How can people under 30 and families find community and financial stability, particularly in cities like Vancouver?

What can be done in a gig economy? how can we change that?

How can we support youth and young professionals to break into the workforce?

How can we build community when people are leaving to areas they can afford?

What are the economic opportunities for rural Indigenous communities?

If we all worked together, what do you imagine that we could achieve in the next five to ten years?

In the next 5 years, I want to see the provinces and Canada  over all working towards supporting social enterprises and working with Indigenous communities to build a more sustainable economy where people and community comes first, not corporations.

Within in the next 10 years, I want to see our ideology change, from focusing on the individual to the community, and for us as a country to be open to trying other frameworks, and to learn from other countries on how to do something better.