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10 Questions with Colouring It Forward: A ‘Getting to Know Our Calgary Social Enterprises’ Blog

Ten social enterprises have been selected as 2021 finalists for What’s Next YYC, a biennial award created by the Trico Charitable Foundation in 2019 to celebrate and advance excellence in social entrepreneurship in Calgary. What’s Next YYC features two $25,000 jury prizes, a $25,000 audience choice, and $25,000 the finalists share amongst themselves. The awards will be handed out on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at the virtual Pivot on Purpose Summit (POP). POP is a three-day summit hosted by the Trico Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Centre at the Haskayne School of Business (more on POP at the bottom of this blog). To help the POP audience and others get to know these social enterprises better, this blog series will have each finalist answer ten questions – five basic questions and five from local funders. Registration is open now.

[box] Brief bio of Colouring It Forward: Colouring It Forward is a social enterprise including a not-for-profit organization called CIF Reconciliation Society and a business called Colouring It Forward Inc. The purpose of the social enterprise is to advance education on indigenous issues, art, language and culture through a grassroots approach. We work with elders and artists to share their stories and teachings to help people to connect with Indigenous art and wisdom. Programs & Awards: Social Enterprise of the year, Conseil de Developpement Economique de l’Alberta; ATBX, ATB; Bold Digital Leadership, AWE; Indigenous Business Builder Series, Business Link. [/box]

Q & A with Diana Frost, Founder of Colouring It Forward:

Diana Frost, Colouring It Forward. Photo cred: Kelly Hofer

Five Basic Questions:

  1. What is your social enterprise’s ‘origin story’?
“I had been looking for a way to help Indigenous people for a few years. One morning I woke up from a powerful dream that told me that I would make a series of colouring books with elders and Indigenous artists to share their wisdom and artwork.”
  1. What are your current annual sales and annual social impact?
“My current annual sales are $180,000. My annual social impact is on 5000 people plus $20,000 in donations this year.”
  1. What are you most proud of regarding your social enterprise?
“That I have relationships of trust with artists and elders, that we make beautiful and meaningful products together that help to foster reconciliation through the arts.”
  1. What’s the next step for your social enterprise?
“I would like to establish a larger Indigenous artists cooperative. We have already founded it but I need to find the time.”
  1. What’s your ultimate dream for your social enterprise?
 “To be able to help artists and elders to share their artwork and wisdom throughout the world.”

Five Questions From Funders*:

  1. When was a time someone showed you compassion and empathy?
“When I had not published anything yet, the first two artists and elder trusted me with their work even though I was not from their community. They helped me to start Colouring It Forward.”
  1. When you look at your origin story, what are the small moments you look back on fondly?
“That first meeting with Chipewyan artist Michael Fatt, where he told me that he was considering quitting being an artist. I wanted to prevent that so I introduced him to Blackfoot artist Kalum Teke Dan, who helped Michael to build a following and Michael never went back to his labourer job.”
  1. In what ways has your social enterprise been reshaped by community needs?
“When I publish a book, I consult with the elder and the artists to see where the donation from sales should go. We sit with this for a while and then we wait to see what comes out. Usually someone suggests a cause that needs some support.” 
  1. How has your social impact evolved from what you originally envisioned?
“When I started my business, I was making donations from sales but I believe that the events I organize with my sister not-for-profit CIF Reconciliation Society will have a larger social impact than I could have imagined. One year after I started Colouring It Forward, I decided to organize an Orange Shirt Day walk in Calgary, then I decided to make orange shirts with an Indigenous design.” 
  1. If you had to describe it in one sentence, what is the “why” behind your mission?
“To foster reconciliation through the arts.”

*The local funders that provided questions are:


More About the Pivot on Purpose Summit (POP): POP, occurring November 18-20, 2021, is a free, virtual gathering that aspires to be the next step in a movement to reimagine the power of business models to solve social problems. POP is held in collaboration with the Trico Charitable Foundation (TCF), the NU Community Board, and the Canadian Sustainable Finance Network. Registration is open now.

POP Highlights Include:

Tariq Fancy, former CIO for sustainability investing at BlackRock Alex Edmans, author of Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver both Purpose and Profit R. Edward Freeman, the thought leader many regard as founder of stakeholder capitalism
21 Canadian social entrepreneurs  Spotlight on Scotland, a world-leader in nurturing social entrepreneurship with initiatives including a 30 million Third Sector Growth Fund And much more! 
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