150 Profiles: Spencer Rice

As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.

Name: Spencer Rice

Current role in the sector: Akwe:go Coordinator at the Sault Ste. Marie Indian Friendship Centre and Summer of Growth Manager for Youth Odena

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: Ten years.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My defining moment was working as a facilitator at the Unite and Ignite conferences in Ottawa and realizing the monumental work being undertaken by handfuls of passionate beings. That moment also made it clear that all sectors (economic, technological, social, and political) need to be working together with the aim of increasing quality of life for everyone. Since that moment, I have been blessed to see and be a part of work that bridges people and organizations that typically worked separately. Harmonizing varying community objectives allows for creativity, relationships, and opportunities to blossom.

Describe your desk/workspace.
My workspace at home is filled with books about community development, Indigenous histories, plant-based medicines, and spiritual growth. Above my desk is the Kaswhenta (Two Row Wampum) to remind me of my ancestors and the value of trust, friendship, and mutual respect. The Kaswhenta is the framework by which to build relationships, be them personal, professional, or political. I have my Dene drum atop my bookshelf to remember that, above all else, I must honour the beat of my own drum. When undertaking work, I always try to be cognizant of the seven generations before me and the seven generations to follow.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I have not had the time to read seriously but the work that Youth Odena is doing provides me with countless insights about the importance of clear communication, efficiently utilizing group/staff skills, and building unlikely but fruitful partnerships. When I read, I typically peruse through history, medicinal practice, and community development books and articles. I’m currently seeking to learn more about alternative economies, collective decision-making, supporting sustainable infrastructure, and building adaptive institutions.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
The non-profit sector needs to be focusing on relationships, specifically learning to build networks of relationships that help to strengthen communities. A network of relationships is meant to ensure every point of contact at an organization is supported, informed, and valued. The harmonization of relationships is key to effective community development and the efficient delivery of services. Once networks are established then communities can begin to explore sustainability planning to ensure the success of all service providers.

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com


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