The Na-cho Nyak Dun First Nation, Carleton University Sprott School of Business, Carleton University School of Industrial Design, J.V. Clark School, and Inuit artist/skateboarder Parr Etidloie (Kinngait) will collaborate on a multi-year entrepreneurship focused project that will harness the power of skateboard culture to create learning opportunities and promote engagement of high school students in the community of Mayo, Yukon. It will do so by leveraging the medium and philosophies of skateboarding to fulfill learning goals in an innovative and holistic way. The result will be a viable entrepreneurial business run by community youth.

Carleton students will mentor community youth on business and entrepreneurship fundamentals, handcraft and board construction, collaborative design and group co-creation in the virtual reality context, visual art, presentation skills.

Carleton industrial design students will work with the high school students to design, prototype, and produce an interchangeable board system that will make boards useable in both summer and winter.

Community Students participating in this grade 9-12 project will sell their products through an online storefront that they will build collaboratively through the mentorship of the Carleton students. They will ensure that they involve community elders in the setup of the governance system of their business.

The goal of this project is to nurture a meaningful collaborative partnership between Carleton students and a Northern community through the establishment of a youth-run entrepreneurial venture. The approach to the project includes a process of co-creation in a partnership relationship, two-way dialogue, and geographically distributed teams.  Through participatory activities, the project will strengthen cross-cultural relationships and enable Carleton students and community youth to develop a culturally appropriate venture that will increase engagement and community pride.

Why skateboarding? Skateboarding wires the brain, connecting the physical body to spatial awareness and to see the world in terms of creative opportunity and where fun can be had. To see the world as a skateboarder instantly turns the banal and rigid built and psychological environments into places of possibility, problem solving, and joy. Being anti-establishment, against the grain, and wholeheartedly DIY, skateboarding has always thrived on reinvention. Youth understand this intuitively. In its purest form skateboarding blurs the lines between community, culture, art form, and daredevilry. It is all these things at once.

Funds raised will be used to pay for on-the-ground expenses during two week-long field trips to Mayo YT to work with local youth participating in the skate entrepreneurship project. Each trip will include a separate group of Carleton students. The first trip will focus on working with community students on manufacturing and setting up the e-commerce platform, and the second trip will focus on board graphics and marketing.  Funds will also be used for product prototyping costs and the acquisition of VR headsets for virtual collaborative design sessions. These headsets will be made available for students in the future years.

This project will have positive impact on multiple levels.

At the community level, the project will encourage community youth to:

  • Participate in an artistic project that increases both their engagement with elders and their pride in their communities;
  • have an opportunity to develop and apply their creative skills in an artistic endeavour;
  • acquire practical skills in entrepreneurship, business, and teamwork.

For Carleton students, it will:

  • Increase their skills in social entrepreneurship, creative thinking, working in geographically and culturally distributed teams;
  • allow them to establish long-lasting relationships with community members;
  • increase their social and cultural awareness and experient working in a cross-cultural environment.