Candice Loring is being recognized by Canadian SME Business Magazine for her efforts to ensure Indigenous companies and academics in Canada are supported.
Loring is the director of business development and Indigenous community engagement for Mitacs, a national non-profit organization that builds partnerships between industry and academia with a mission to support “research-based innovation.”
She’s also a member of the Gitwangak band from the Gitxsan Nation, and a mother of two.
Last year, Loring says she initiated the “first ever” call-out to Indigenous companies and academics, because she noticed they were underrepresented in Mitacs programs, which offer funding support for research internships.
“I was looking at the barriers to entry into our programs and figuring out ways that we could take those barriers away,” she says. “We really wanted to create equitable access.”
Open to all disciplines, Mitacs typically covers 55 per cent of the cost of internships in areas like R&D management, professional skills development, and international research training. Partner organizations are expected to cover the other 45 per cent.
But Loring found this financial contribution was a big barrier for some people who self-identify as Indigenous.
So she got Mitacs to agree to cover 75 per cent of the cost for “projects that have an Indigenous partner organization and/or an intern who is Indigenous.”
“It was the most generous offering in Mitacs’ 21-year history,” she says.
The invitation was open from Dec. 3, 2020 until Feb. 15, 2021, and Loring says they received 427 applications, far more than she expected to receive.
“Mitacs is trying to help change the landscape of Indigenous research in Canada by striving to offer these types of calls to Indigenous communities.”
As part of her effort to get the call for Indigenous applicants widely recognized by Indigenous organizations, Loring created a two-page spread (page 7) in CanadianSME, a small business magazine.
Now she’s being recognized by that same magazine as one of the top 36 women entrepreneurs and business leaders in Canada for 2021.
“This certificate is presented to Candice Loring for her contribution to the empowerment of women across Canada that will help promote the acknowledgement of women entrepreneurs who show outstanding courage and leadership within Canada’s business industry,” reads the award.
“It’s surreal that I spent my life looking up to so many incredible people, and now I am in that position. To receive that certificate was definitely a surprise,” says Loring.
Loring’s message to women business leaders
When Loring was chosen to receive the award, she was asked by CanadianSME magazine to write a 100-word message to other women entrepreneurs or business leaders in Canada.
“My first thoughts were all the women who’ve walked on the surface before me,” she says.
In her message, she acknowledges her late mother and grandmothers.
“Before important meetings, I seek guidance from my ancestors — the women who have walked the Earth before me,” she writes. “Any success I achieve is an extension of my grandmothers and mother. Their sacrifices allowed me the privilege to follow my dreams.”
In an interview, she tells IndigiNews, “I always remember my mom works so hard, doing anything she could to provide a better life for us, even as a single mom.
“My late grandmother was a hereditary chief. She never had an education. So for her, it was always so important to see our family pursue an education.”
It’s because of her family’s influence that she’s in a position today to create positive changes within Indigenous communities, she says.
She says she’s committed to changing Indigenous research and innovation in Canada to ensure that Mitacs is not repeating historical wrongs.
“I’m always happy to advocate on behalf of Indigenous women and try to encourage other Indigenous people to pursue careers in business,” she says.
“I might work for a company, but my mission is to legitimize Indigenous knowledge systems, create equitable access for Indigenous scholars, organizations and communities.”