Catalytic and Learning Partnerships

Catalytic and Learning Partnerships are agile and responsive. They are meant to harness opportunities for learning and/or acceleration in economic sectors or program areas key to the EleV strategy. They enhance the work of our regional anchor partnerships and strengthen Indigenous and youth-led social infrastructure and organizations. 


Turtle Island Institute 


Founded in 2018, Turtle Island Institute (TII) is an Indigenous-led charitable social innovation “think and do” tank – a teaching lodge – enabling transformative change.  

EleV works to support Indigenous youth in their pathways through education and on to meaningful work and livelihoods reflecting their values, traditions, and aspirations. Achieving this goal requires systems change and new thinking across many organizations and institutions – change that embraces Indigenous worldviews and values. 

TII will strengthen this effort as it is working to dismantle colonial values embedded in current systems change theory and practice, and integrating Indigenous ways of knowing, speaking, doing, and being that reflect wholism and the complex embedded interconnections and dynamics within systems. 

This partnership aims to build the field of Indigenous systems change to increase overall social impact. 

In 2020, the Mastercard Foundation entered into an 18 month commitment with Turtle Island Institute. 

This partnership includes: 

  • The overall goal of increasing social impact by building the field of Indigenous systems change. 
  • Creating tools and curriculum, providing customized leadership and social innovation programming, and supporting a peer network of Indigenous systems change leaders.  
  • Supporting EleV partners’ capacity in the Indigenous systems change field and facilitating shared learning and increased systems impact, including workshops at EleV events.  
  • Developing the field of Indigenous systems thinking through Indigenous process design, curriculum development, and establishing the world’s first Indigenous Action Lab in Niagara Falls, Ontario.   


Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut 

EntrepreNorth is a partner in the EleV Program. EntrepreNorth is an Indigenous-led organization and a leader in programming to foster and build entrepreneurship in the North.

This partnership will leverage EntrepreNorth’s experience, expertise, and partnerships to positively impact Indigenous youth and communities across the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and NunavutEntrepreNorth’s programming and approach is grounded in the local context, Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous values. 

In 2020, the Mastercard Foundation entered into a three year commitment with EntrepreNorth. 

This partnership includes: 

  • The overall goal of directly benefiting 185 Indigenous youth in the North, and many more indirectly through entrepreneurship programming, new employment and self-employment opportunities, new thought leadership products, and increased coordination across stakeholders in support of entrepreneurs. 
  • Strengthening organizational and community capacity to advance positive stories, thought leadership, and systems change in support of new and innovative approaches to Indigenous entrepreneurship. 
  • Delivering services to empower, connect, and scale Northern business leadership and growth. This includes delivery of cohort-based programming focused on sector themes to support Indigenous entrepreneurs, and community-based workshops with a focus on young Indigenous entrepreneurs. 
  • Efforts to increase access to capital for Indigenous entrepreneurs by deepening relationships and partnerships with existing funding options, identifying opportunities to increase access to financing, and exploring the development of a Northern Impact Fund. 
  • Working to foster a network of Indigenous entrepreneurs, businesses, government actors, and other key stakeholders, and to increase coordination among key players and across the territories.  


Nawalakw Healing Society 

Kwakwaka’wakw Territory, British Columbia 

Nawalakw Healing Society is a partner in the EleV Program. Nawalakw Healing Society is holistic social venture that is taking an innovative, community-led approach to eco-tourism. This approach meaningfully incorporates healing and wellness, language revitalization, and employment and training opportunities. Nawalakw Healing Society has deep relationships with communities, foundations, post-secondary institutions, and the private sector. 

In 2020, the Mastercard Foundation entered into a one year commitment with Nawalakw Healing Society. 

This partnership includes: 

  • Furthering the longterm vision of Nawalakw Healing Society as a leader in healing and wellness, eco-tourism, cultural revitalization, and community-based training and employment programming. 
  • Supporting the wellness and success of Indigenous young people by expanding meaningful training, employment, and cultural programming aligned to a broader vision for the development of an institution integrating healing and wellness, eco-tourism, cultural revitalization, and training. 
  • Creating four long term student job-placement positions that lead to full time employment; ten seasonal job placements for Indigenous youth focused in the areas of land and ocean-based food security, tourism, and language revitalization; and extensive onsite training for at least fourteen youth. 
  • Expanding partnerships with key organizations, including Vancouver Island University, to assist with placing students in a variety of disciplines including marine science, ecological studies, hospitality, and Tourism and Resort Operators to provide further training and work experience for youth. 
  • Expanding the communication and storytelling capacity of Nawalakw Healing Society. 


BYTE Empowering Youth Society – Indigenous Youth That Lead and the Assembly of First Nations Yukon Region 


BYTE (Bringing Youth Towards Equality) Empowering Youth Society  and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Yukon Region are a partner in the EleV Program. 

The AFN Yukon Region declared 2019 the Year of the Youth. AFN Yukon Region is connected across both Yukon youth and leadership, and is involved in national committees on climate change, environment, health, and modern Treaty implementation. This creates significant potential for the Yukon to lead the way in youth engagement, success, and wellness. AFN Yukon is working with BYTE Empowering Youth Society as their partner in this work and to administer the project. 

In 2020, the Mastercard Foundation entered into an 18 month commitment to support this initiative. 

This partnership includes: 

  • Supporting the wellness and success of Indigenous young people by encouraging them to pursue their goals, inspiring and supporting them to develop and advance their unique talents, and recognizing, celebrating and sharing their achievements. 
  • Developing the framework for a strategy to advance Indigenous youth wellness and success in the Yukon and aligning and working with partners (including youth-serving organizations and governments) to identify priorities and timelines with short and long-term commitments.  
  • Hosting an “Honouring Success” gathering for Indigenous post-secondary students in collaboration with Yukon University and others. 
  • Connecting Yukon First Nations leaders with young people and sharing highlights from the Youth Wellness Strategy at the AFN Yukon Annual Summit. This includes supporting youth awards at the gathering in connection with the Yukon Year of the Youth.  
  • Working towards a “Youth that Lead” gathering, run by and for youth in collaboration with others, celebrating and supporting youth to define success in the areas of learning, wellness, and the environment, and providing cultural and language programming. Preparation will include capacity building and virtual trainings for young Indigenous leaders. 

Indigenous Clean Energy 


Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) is a partner in the EleV Program. 

ICE is a unique, not-for-profit platform that advances Indigenous inclusion in Canada’s energy futures economy through Indigenous leadership and broad-based collaboration with energy companies, utilities, governments, development firms, clean tech innovators, the academic sector, and capital markets. The clean energy efforts of ICE include renewable energy, energy efficiency, green energy infrastructure, and advanced energy opportunities. Through ICE’s efforts, Indigenous communities are meaningfully involved in over 197 medium-to-large scale projects creating an estimated $295 million in annual revenues for Indigenous communities. 

The goal of EleV includes access to education for Indigenous young people as well as supporting pathways to meaningful employment for Indigenous youth. This partnership with ICE (administered through Ottawa Community Foundation) will advance both objectives. ICE provides tailored training and instruction in clean energy and creates pathways to employment for program participants by matching Indigenous people with clean energy employers for paid work experience. 

In 2021, the Mastercard Foundation entered into a 30 month commitment with Indigenous Clean Energy. 

This partnership includes: 

  • Significant employment experiences in the opportunities clean energy sector for 80 Indigenous young people, enabling them to pursue longer-term employment in a sector that is key to the future of Indigenous economies. 
  • Supporting ICE’s Generation Power program, a new twelve-month training program for Indigenous young people that provides as an entry point into careers in clean energy. By the end of the partnership, the ICE program will be an accredited program with a Canadian university. The program involves culturally relevant learning about clean energy, including an on-the-land camp; job placements with clean energy employers who will receive cultural sensitivity training; one-on-one mentorship in clean energy; and the creation of a fund that supports youth-led projects in clean energy. 
  • Supporting ICE’s 20/20 Catalysts program, a nine-month program that focuses on capacity building for Indigenous learners interested in exploring the clean energy sector. Four program spots in each of the next three cohorts will be fully funded for young Indigenous participants. 
  • Creating a media campaign to raise awareness of Indigenous youth leadership in the clean energy sector, contributing to a new narrative of Indigenous youth as essential agents and drivers of change in this sector. 


Kw’umut Lelum Foundation (established through Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services)

Xwulmuxw Mustimuxw Nations Territory, Vancouver Island, B.C.

Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services is a partner in the EleV Program for the purpose of establishing the Kw’umut Lelum Foundation.

Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services is an Indigenous-led institution made up of the nine Xwulmuxw Mustimuxw Nations on Vancouver Island. Since 1996, they have been doing important culturally grounded work supporting Indigenous youth, focused on those who are or have been in care.

The goal of this partnership is to support Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services in establishing a First Nations owned and governed foundation to ensure First Nations control of the mission, vision, values, strategy, and planning for investing in youth through community generated ideas. It will enable the work of Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services to deepen and expand to better support Indigenous youth and their futures, and accelerate self-determination. Learning will be shared with other Indigenous communities interested in the community foundation model.

In 2020, the Mastercard Foundation entered into an 18 month commitment to support this initiative.

This partnership includes:

  • Establishingthe Kw’umut Lelum Foundation.
  • Technical support related to establishing a foundation, including legal support, forming bylaws and governance structures, administrative processes, and recruiting and training qualified staff. Investment in youth voices and community advocacy and education will be key.
  • A financial literacy program to be created after the Foundation’s start up that includesdelivery of age-specific educational materials.
  • Establishing a dedicated Foundation scholarship/bursary fund to leverage, incentivize, and seek matching resources from communities and the private sector.
  • Network and opportunity development through relationship building with provincial and federal governments, school districts, post-secondary institutions, regional youth support organizations, and other Indigenous philanthropic organizations.


First Nations Technology Council

North Vancouver, BC

First Nations Technology Council (FNTC), based in North Vancouver, BC, is a partner in the EleV Program.

FNTC is an Indigenous-led organization, mandated by BC First Nations, with extensive experience in the areas of education and training, research, sector engagement, and digital equity. FNTC operates at the intersection of Indigenous sovereignty, technological advancement and the rapidly expanding technology and innovation economy.

Digital and connected technologies are a determinant of nation building and community well-being, yet the lack of reliability and affordability of access facing many Indigenous people and communities is a key barrier. The result is ongoing economic exclusion and hardship. Addressing these barriers, alongside an investment in Indigenous communities’ digital skills development, is both an urgent need and a strategy for long-term resilience and self-determination.

This partnership will be implemented by FNTC with First Nations communities, leaders, and other strategic partners. It will enable sustainable growth essential to overcoming key policy barriers and position FNTC and First Nations as drivers of the digital economy on the west coast with a view to future national expansion.

In 2021, the Mastercard Foundation entered into a three and a half year commitment with FNTC.

This partnership includes:

  • The launch of the Indigenous Innovation Institute, which will offer culturally grounded upskilling and reskilling digital skills programs for Indigenous youth nationally. This includes developing on-demand media-powered programs where learners can participate anytime, anywhere, allowing people to learn in their communities. Once the Indigenous Innovation Institute is operational, FNTC expects to serve a minimum of 350 Indigenous people annually, the majority under the age of 40. Indigenous young people will benefit from technology skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and other forms of training that will accelerate their participation in the digital economy and their leadership in digital society. There is support for developing an Indigenous Connectivity Champions Training Program and establishing the Indigenous Innovation Institute.
  • Creation of an Indigenous Digital Equity Strategy for Indigenous peoples in BC. This is part of a Strategic Framework involving policy, programmatic, and process intervention that aims to increase community connectivity, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, as well as skills development and training opportunities. Developing a robust policy and strategic framework for advancement of digital equity means advancing the national discussion and advocacy around Spectrum Sovereignty in the context of Indigenous rights. The Strategic Framework will organize communities across BC and mobilize capital for strategic, coordinated, and long-term sustained investments into connectivity infrastructure, skill development, tech-focused economic development, and digital integration and transformation of communities and governance systems. The Strategy will also identify key policy, regulatory and legislative changes to enable or accelerate these outcomes.