Innu Nation venture to cultivate IT expertise

A new partnership between the Innu Nation and Fujitsu Consulting> will draw on Newfoundland and Labrador’s brightest resource: its people.

Traditionally

thought of as a region rich in natural resources, Newfoundland and Labrador is now better positioned to move from a resource-based economy into a knowledge-based economy. Fujitsu Consulting and the Innu Development Limited Partnership (IDLP) have partnered to launch Innuvations, a joint venture poised to provide opportunities and training in the IT realm to the Sheshatshiu, Natuashish and Mushuau peoples.

The joint venture is the first of its kind for Fujitsu Consulting.

The global consulting firm sees the partnership providing technical training, infrastructure, and related skills to the local Innu communities, with the total scope of the Innuvations venture evolving over time.

“”The intent is that this is a joint venture which will go to market and will secure clients and we will provide services to that client. Underneath the covers, part of our relationship with the Innu Nation is to provide training to their people and to provide access to technology,”” said Scott Garvey, president of Fujitsu Consulting Canada.

“”What we’re really keen on is doing something for our youth,”” said David Penner, corporate business manager for the IDLP. “”Our youth are no different than the youth of any other community. You walk into our schools and the kids are crowded around the computers. They’re interested in the medium, in information technology, so we really feel that’s the future for us.

“”Most of the thrust of our efforts have been resource-based, this one is knowledge-based. We feel now we really have a solid base not just on the land our people occupy, but on the people themselves,”” added Penner.

Innuvations is already working with its first client, the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Project, to secure agreements and set up technology infrastructure with the aid of the Innu people. “”At this particular point the requirement is to have an initial deployment of technology to the mine site and to the people involved at Voisey’s Bay Nickel, and we’re working with them to determine what the requirements are,”” said Garvey. Fujitsu currently has a small staff dedicated to support and business development for Innuvations. While the joint venture is owned 51 per cent by the Innu Nation, Fujitsu oversees its day-to-day operations.

Fujitsu sees the IDLP’s community relationships as integral to the success of the Innuvations project.

“”Really one of the basic focuses of the joint venture is around community development of the Innu nation. The aboriginal nations, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador, have unique relationships with the provincial and federal government and organizations like Voisey’s Bay which allow them to participate in this new economy, and we help facilitate through the joint venture their ability to really participate in agreements they’ve already made with the public sector and some elements of the private sector,”” said Garvey.

The IDLP sees their partnership with Fujitsu as an investment in the future — in the Innu youth in particular.

Aside from companies like Voisey’s Bay, Innuvations is looking to the medical field as a potential base for future opportunities. Through the Internet, rural northern communities can take advantage of long-distance medical consultation, reducing the need for difficult-to-find staffing and, in some cases, unnecessary commutes into larger cities. “”It gives them a triage, and with technology you can do that,”” said Penner.

As economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador shifts towards the information sector, Penner is confident the Innu people can make the transition into the future with the help of Innuvations.

“”We’re looking at the next generation. We’re doing this for them. The present generation may have a hard time understanding, but the youth know.””

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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