Category: Blog Post

Actions and Reactions: the future of the sustainable ocean economy in the Arctic

By: Kendra MacDonald, CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

Over the last couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to spend time in the Arctic exploring both the opportunities and challenges. Last week, with the much-appreciated support of our local partners, including our host sponsor Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, we held our first Ocean Innovation for a Sustainable Arctic workshop in Iqaluit, Nunavut. This week I attended the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway. The theme of the conference was Actions and Reactions, our responsibility to be proactive in shaping the future of the Arctic despite the challenges we are facing.
These provided me with an important opportunity to connect with communities in the North – to listen and understand more about opportunities and priorities in ocean. We heard from Government, communities, NGOs, researchers and industry and focused discussions both on the significant opportunities that exist across the Arctic but also the significant challenges.
While there are certainly many differences across Arctic nations, I was also struck by the consistency of several of the messages over the last two weeks including:

  • Arctic has unique challenges – there are harsh weather conditions, communities are small, remote, and widely spread, there is a very high cost of operations and development, and there are infrastructure and data gaps. At the same time, Northern communities have a long history and experience facing these challenges and much can be learned from their experiences. Challenges bring opportunities, therefore innovative approaches and solutions are needed.  The Arctic needs long-term thinking and long-term funding commitments and partnerships.
  • Climate – the Arctic is warming at least 4X as quickly as the rest of the planet.  One speaker referred to the Arctic as the canary in the coal mine, giving us a glimpse into the impacts of climate to come to the rest of the world.  There was much focus on changing sea ice, biodiversity loss, vulnerable ecosystems, and significant impacts on traditional ways of life.  Any solutions must be sustainable.  How do we move quickly given the urgency of the climate challenges but also with respect?
  • Solutions or programs must be co-designed and co-led with communities – this was repeated throughout the two weeks. Every community is different, and solutions must meet them where they are at. However, we must balance engaging communities and overburdening them. Communication with communities must be culturally relevant. Priorities of the communities can be season dependent and organizations that wish to work with them must have a good understanding of these priorities. Traditional knowledge within communities must be respected and can bring significant value to any partnership.  There must be ongoing dialogue with those who call Arctic home, Indigenous communities are partners and rightsholders, not just stakeholder consultations that tick a box.  Looking at the opportunity in inshore fisheries for example – this is important both for food security and market opportunities and solutions must be co-led by communities. Solutions need to consider the broader challenges facing communities including food security, day care, housing, health care and education.  As more than one Indigenous speaker shared “nothing about us without us.
  • Significant gaps in data – it is hard for decision-makers to make the right decisions without access to the data.  There is a lack of baseline data, shortage of publicly accessible data exchange platforms, no interoperability of existing datasets, as well as capacity and training on visualizing raw data. This is a significant challenge across the Arctic.  Knowledge must be at the centre of decisions. There is a need to leverage technology to collect more data but there was also a reminder that gathering data should not be extractive, companies and researchers need to be mindful of the CARE principles, data should be for the Collective benefit of Indigenous peoples, Indigenous people should have the Authority to control the data, those working with the data have a Responsibility to share how that data is being used and data should be used Ethically with Indigenous People’s rights and concerns a primary concern throughout. There is much opportunity for artificial intelligence to support better decision making but this is more difficult with missing data.
  • Increasing access – Melting sea ice is increasing access to shipping lanes and natural resources.  There is significant focus on maintaining peace across the North but also risk with Russia as a key Arctic stakeholder.  Regulation plays on important role in ensuring appropriate activity in the North and Arctic governance continues to evolve.
  • There is a meaningful value in enhancing collaborative innovation by bringing people together where ideas happen. Additionally, it creates opportunities to offer novel technological solutions to support the traditional knowledge.

It is our hope that the discussions that began in Iqaluit will continue to grow and flourish into opportunities to work together in the Arctic in a way that benefits Arctic communities. More than half of Canada’s coastline is in the Arctic, and meaningful relationships with Inuit communities are critical to achieving Ambition 2035 for our ocean economy. As we work towards a 5X growth potential in ocean, it is more important than ever that we first understand the unique opportunities across all three oceans, and find ways to work together to deliver important solutions for communities, as well as generate significant economic opportunity in the process.

Empowering SMEs to Drive Canada’s Prosperous Path in the Expanding Blue Economy

By: Dr. Jason Goldsworthy, P.Eng., Executive Director, The Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST)

The Blue Economy is growing around the world as more and more businesses and organizations understand that our oceans are one of the planet’s greatest assets.

Access to reliable data is a vital component for effective innovation, and providing that access is what’s fuelling the development of new technologies that transform the way we work with, in, on and around the oceans. Thanks to equitable access to high-end computing power, we’re seeing that it’s actually not the large multinational corporations that are driving this transformation as you’d expect, but rather the more nimble small to medium enterprises (SMEs), who are motivated by both the inherent opportunities in the industry and a desire for change.

Many of these SMEs are single innovators with a great idea to support the world’s largest industries in improving operational efficiencies, transitioning to a cleaner footprint and finding new markets to increase revenues and profitability.

Canada has a strong history of developing exceptional intellectual property thanks to our outstanding educational and research-based organizations. This is especially true in our marine and ocean-based sectors, where we lead the world in many areas of ocean based research.

Commercializing this IP will have a massive impact on an industry predicted to be worth $3 trillion (US) by 2030. And with Canada boasting the longest coastline in the world, our diverse natural ecosystems, Indigenous knowledge and leadership and desire to improve, we have the potential to lead the world in bringing new innovations to the ocean and marine industries.

We are already seeing Canadian SMEs commercializing world-leading technologies in the ocean sector including innovations in clean renewable energy, marine decarbonization, coastal restoration and waste management. These SMEs are redefining what our future markets for energy, marine products and environmental protection could look like.

Many SMEs are honing their technology in our backyard and then exporting to worldwide markets to solve some of the oceans’ greatest challenges. We should celebrate these successes while also ensuring that we foster a commercial environment where future innovators and SMEs can prosper.

If Canada is to continue this path of success in the Blue Economy, we need more SMEs to develop new technology, with the support of organizations like Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, the Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE) in Halifax, Novarium in Quebec, the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST) in Pacific Canada and programs like the Ocean Startup Project. With collective will and support, Canada’s marine industries can thrive and lead the path to a better use of our oceans and our SMEs will grow to support a burgeoning ocean economy and export to the world.

It is an exciting, engaging and prosperous time to be in this Blue Economy as a researcher, innovator, SME or industry participant. I am privileged to be part of it and encourage others to engage. Feel free to connect with COAST at

Significance of AI in the Ocean Sector

Jennifer LaPlante, Chief Growth and Investment Officer, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

This past week the OSC had the opportunity to share an announcement of nearly $20 million in AI projects led by companies across seven provinces. As part of the Pan Canadian AI Strategy, we are striving to increase the use and adoption of AI in the ocean sector. The announcement took place at the first annual All In AI Conference, providing the opportunity to showcase five different ocean ventures named in the list of the Top 100 AI start-ups in Canada. This week has highlighted the opportunity we have to continue the momentum to grow ocean AI in Canada.

With the increased demonstration of and access to ChatGPT, Dall·e, Midjourney, and countless other AI products, the awareness of AI grows by day. These tools have opened the door for all of us to explore AI across our daily activities. Nevertheless, it remains a demanding journey for companies to navigate how to leverage AI for both commercial activities and operational optimization. Developing and building your own artificial intelligence solutions requires a significant volume of data, domain expertise to understand and label that data, technological ability to understand the algorithms that may be the possible recipes to create usable models, and the full technology suite of talent and infrastructure to deploy and maintain new AI solutions. Not every company is positioned to do this on their own. We are striving to support our members on this journey.

Over the coming year we will be working to help the sector better understand and articulate the challenges in developing and benefiting from AI. This includes the creation of an Ocean AI Strategy Steering Committee to ensure we work with members to better understand the barriers to AI comprehension and adoption. We are partnering with a range of organizations, such as AI research institutes to garner access to leading AI expertise to support ocean challenges. Lastly, access to quality and usable data has been previously identified as a real barrier for the ocean sector to build more robust and usable AI. As such, all projects within our AI program and Phase 2 are required to provide high level details about the data created within the projects. By supporting the access to high level details of a range of ocean related data, OSC members are able to potential share or sell their data, enabling others to benefit and create usable AI tools or other solutions.

Stay tuned for upcoming sessions about AI, data and AI talent, as we build out support to drive Canada’s leadership in Ocean AI.

Unleashing the Power of People

Navigating the sustainable ocean sector’s Talent Landscape towards Ambition 2035

By: Janelle Caballero | Director, Cluster Workforce Growth, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

In the collective potential ocean innovation presents for Canada, Ambition 2035 represents a 5X growth potential in ocean – for industry, communities, for workers – for our country. In May we came together with leaders from coast-to-coast-to-coast in Ottawa for a meaningful conversation around how individual aspirations in ocean can and should contribute to transformational opportunity for Canada’s entire ocean community – and where collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity were all recognized as some of the key enablers in realizing it. In this dynamic and evolving ocean sector – which is set to outpace the broader economy, financial capital is no question a key driver, but there is consensus that there is an equally impactful force we need to address: human capital. It is the strategic and skilled people that join this sector who will help bring our ideas and aspirations to life, grow more ocean companies, and bring their products to markets around the world.

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC) recognizes the urgency and importance of attracting talent to the sustainable ocean economy. The key lies in the alignment of shared values, where the foundations of ambition are fortified by purpose-driven connections. It is not just about economic gains; it is about building awareness and delivering a narrative that resonates with jobseekers, where the call of the ocean meets the values that guide their career choices.

In 2019, Canada’s ocean economy employed more than 300,000 individuals and con-tributed $39 billion to the country’s GDP. Looking ahead, the global ocean economy’s projected value of $4 trillion CAD by 2030 and Ambition 2035 presents an aspiration to grow Canada’s ocean economy to $220 billion by 2035. This is a testament to the vast potential awaiting exploration. Yet, amidst this sea of opportunities, challenges also arise. The need to bolster Canada’s ocean sector capacity is undeniable, given the constraints of a limited ocean talent pool and the imperative to stay relevant and competitive.

In the current landscape of the Canadian labour market, the ripples of change are palpable. Workforce trends projected for 2023 are set to leave a profound impact on the sustainable ocean economy. The surge in demand for a flexible workplace culture, characterized by hybrid models and remote work facilitated by cutting-edge technologies, is undeniable. Alongside this, the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the ocean space resounds with urgency. Historically underrepresented groups – Indigenous rights holders, women, 2SLGBTQIA+ community members, BIPOC individuals, and the neurodiverse – are asserting their rightful place, adding their unique perspectives and in-sights to the fabric of the industry.

This is a landscape where more Canadian ocean companies are starting and scaling, and the demand for skilled talent reaches unparalleled heights, with employers across industries fiercely vying for the best and brightest minds. The ocean sector’s journey is uniquely challenging, as it navigates the intricate interplay of an aging demographic’s retirements and the multiplying opportunities for digital and technological niche roles, especially for youth and mid-career sector entrants.

OSC talent research conducted in 2022 offered insights into this dichotomy, revealing that only 52% of OSC membership job postings in skilled talent were filled over a two-month period, leaving 48% vacant. Yet amidst this challenge, glimmers of hope are on the horizon. Over 600 ocean sector job boards, internship opportunities, mentorship programs, and accredited courses have been identified. These initiatives and resources are crafting a solid foundation for the nurturing and growth of a robust talent pool and pipeline.

There is meaningful and impactful work being done in this space already to lay the foundation for our talent pool and pipeline development. Yet, the central question remains: how do we attract these skilled and values-aligned individuals to the ocean sector? To-day, jobseekers, including recent graduates and those seeking mid-career shifts, are seeking values-aligned work. This is the juncture where Ambition 2035 and OSC 2.0 make their entrance. Cultivating a larger, more diverse workforce to realize the full potential of the sustainable ocean economy requires a profound understanding of the evolving workplace trends and articulation of our shared vision for sustainable ocean growth in Canada. This is where collaboration and holistic vision-building come into play.

At our Ambition 2035 event in May, we heard the participants and the thoughtful contributions made. Collaboration, respect, integrity, equity, sustainability, impact, and com-munity were top values that were raised and when asked for input into our list of Talent priorities for OSC 2.0, this included:

• flexible training pathways
• mentorship and training for those looking to enter the ocean sector
• further awareness building of Canada’s ocean brand
• facilitating ocean economy workforce data sharing and reporting
• DEI support mechanisms and training, and minimizing of barriers
• linkages from post-secondary talent pipelines to entry-level jobs
• funding allocated for talent pipeline projects
• promotion of a wide variety of jobs in the ocean space

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster’s talent pillar strategy addresses these key areas of growth, and actions on moving the talent needle substantially over the next five-year funding cycle. As we continue to move forward with talent initiatives, we are keeping top of mind that our success lies in forging purpose-centered relationships with individuals, rather than merely focusing on reporting metrics or ticking boxes. We collectively need to facilitate connections with intention, fostering a space where not only are people wel-comed, but where they are motivated to stay, to contribute, and to shape the future we aspire to create. As we continue this shared task of ecosystem talent building, our cen-tral focus will remain on shared values, innovation, inclusivity, and a commitment to a prosperous and sustainable ocean economy.

The path ahead is one where we cultivate relationships with people who are the driving force in shaping the sustainable ocean legacy we leave behind.

Tech startups turn their attention to the blue economy

A reflection on the first-ever OceanFest event at Montreal’s Startupfest

By: Nancy Andrews, Chief Engagement & Communications Officer, OSC and
Amélie Desrochers, Executive Director, Novarium

Every year, Startupfest brings thousands of founders and investors from across Canada and around the world to explore the latest in tech, emerging trends and opportunities, and also to pitch and hear new, exciting ideas. This year, for the first-time ever, Startupfest included an ocean focused event called OceanFest – hosted in partnership by Novarium, AquaAction, the Ocean Startup Project and Canada’s Ocean Supercluster and with the support of many other ecosystem partners from across the country.

Set to outpace the growth of the broader economy, the magnitude of the opportunity in the ocean sector means that we need more tech companies who aren’t already thinking about ocean to consider how their innovation can also be applied in this space and the investment needed to do it. Oceanfest helped put a spotlight on this earlier this month with speakers who highlighted the role of ocean in climate change and many of the biggest challenges facing our world today and investors who agreed the time to invest in ocean is now. The event featured some of Canada’s foremost academic, industry, and investment leaders as well as some of its most promising startups with clear take-a-way around the tremendous opportunity for ocean innovation in not only helping solve problems that impact us all but also in propelling new growth and new companies in an ecosystem that is bursting at the seams with potential.

The OceanFest agenda included ‘The Next Big Thing’ pitch competition with $30,000 in non-diluted funding prize and the opportunity to join FLOTS’ 12-month post-acceleration program. Canadian startups showed excellent pitching skills, compelling business models with demonstrated strong market pull in front of judges from across the country. After deliberations, Blue Lion Labs, a startup using AI to reduce environmental and biological threats walked away with the top prize. Congratulations to all the startups who participated in the competition and made such impressive pitches.

Before vacating due to inclement weather and a tornado warning later in the afternoon, we gathered in a beautiful space at the Port of Montreal with 24 ecosystem partners from across Canada including founders, accelerators, and regional innovation hubs for an interactive roundtable discussion on how to increasingly work together to advance our collective opportunity in the blue economy and potential through Ambition 2035, but also propel the work of each other. To do this a series of priorities and next steps were identified under pan-Canadian collaboration, diverse ecosystem development, and a strong global ocean brand for Canada. Leaving energized, inspired and excited for what’s next, we concluded the day with a commitment to build on what we started at Oceanfest in the weeks and months to come and come back next Startup Fest with an even bigger ocean event to build on this momentum.

Integrating Two-Eyed Seeing in the Blue Economy

Integrating Two-Eyed Seeing in the Blue Economy:
Reflections from the Blue Generation During World Ocean’s Week
By: Stephanie Hurlburt, Indigenous Program Lead, Clear Seas

As an Indigenous Program Lead at Clear Seas, I had the privilege of bringing participants from our Indigenous Career Pivot Program and Indigenous Internship Program to World Ocean’s Week in New York. Supported by funding from Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, we came to New York to join the Blue Generation, a group of 35 early career ocean stewards from over a dozen countries with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Collaborating with experts in ocean research and conservation during this event deepened my understanding of the challenges our oceans face due to climate change. It also made me realize that it is only through collective innovation and using the Two-Eyed Seeing approach envisioned by Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall that we can overcome these obstacles.

The Blue Economy offers many career paths. From marine biologists studying ecosystems to data scientists analyzing large datasets and engineers creating innovative solutions for renewable energy, the opportunities are endless. Through our sessions, we learned about the diverse jobs available in the marine industry but what makes these careers fascinating is their interconnectedness. For example, data collected by marine scientists can shape fisheries management policies and advancements in artificial intelligence technology improve climate predictions through oceanographic modeling. These connections foster a collaborative environment where professionals from different fields come together to tackle the complex challenges our oceans face. This is precisely why the Blue Generation holds such significance.

As part of the programming for World Ocean’s Week, Titouan Bernicot shared his inspiring story with us. Growing up on a remote South Pacific Island, Bernicot’s deep connection with the ocean and coral reefs led him to found Coral Gardeners at the age of 18 in 2017. With a dedicated team of over 30 members, Coral Gardeners has already planted 30,000 corals in French Polynesia and aim to plant one million corals worldwide by 2025. Further, they build capacity by empowering local communities to become coral gardeners. Through his organization, he not only focuses on reef restoration efforts but also raises community awareness and provides innovation development through their labs. Bernicot’s story resonates with our Indigenous Programs as we likewise strive to create sustainable career pathways and empower communities.

While the growth of the Blue Economy and the accompanying job creation is exciting, it also raises concerns. As society increasingly recognizes the economic potential of our oceans and coastal resources, it is crucial to balance this growth with the conservation efforts of Indigenous people whose communities are intertwined with the ocean to address and mitigate climate change. Through my participation with the Blue Generation cohort, I witnessed the critical yet often overlooked role Indigenous voices have in shaping policies concerning our waters. Indigenous communities possess a deep-rooted connection to the ocean, and their knowledge and perspectives are invaluable when it comes to understanding and safeguarding our marine environments.

In the context of the Blue Economy, embracing Two-Eyed Seeing is of paramount importance. This means valuing both Indigenous and Western knowledge about the ocean. Indigenous communities have a deep understanding of the ocean’s cycles, species interdependence and the importance of conservation. This knowledge is passed down through generations and comes from their close relationship with marine environments. On the other hand, Western approaches, like scientific research and data analysis from disciplines such as marine biology and oceanography, provide important insights into ocean ecosystems and human impacts. By recognizing and combining these perspectives, we can more effectively tackle the challenges of ocean conservation and sustainability.

As I reflect on my time in the Blue Generation Program, it becomes evident that embracing the principles of Two-Eyed Seeing is essential for creating a sustainable blue economy that benefits Indigenous communities and protects the health of our waters. By fostering collaboration and integrating Indigenous knowledge, we can work together towards marine career paths that benefit everyone and safeguard our valuable ocean living networks. I was grateful for the opportunity to share some insights from our Indigenous Programs with the Blue Generation group, in the hopes of emphasizing the significance of creating inclusive and fulfilling career paths for Indigenous people and in turn, empowering Indigenous communities. It is essential that we bridge the existing gap and give due recognition to Indigenous voices in shaping the future of our oceans.

Stephanie is a member of the Sapotaweyak Cree Nation and Indigenous Program Lead at Clear Seas.

Achieving Canada’s Ocean-Climate Solutions Ambition

By: Eric Siegel, Chief Innovation Officer, Ocean Frontier Institute &
Executive in Residence, Creative Destruction Lab – Oceans

Ocean innovators, investors, scientists, and the Canadian government are aligning to position Canada as the global leader in ocean-climate solutions.

Earlier this year, the department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) committed $125 million for Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC) to grow Canada’s ocean economy.

More recently, ISED announced $154 million in funding to the Transforming Climate Action (TCA) research initiative through the Canada First Research Excellent Fund. Led by Dalhousie University in collaboration with Université du Québec à Rimouski, Université Laval and Memorial University of Newfoundland, the research will be the most intensive investigation into the ocean’s role in climate change and ocean-based climate mitigation ever undertaken.

Additional investments from national and international industry, research, and government partners bring the full project value to $400 million. This represents a globally significant investment to position Canada as a leader in ocean-climate science, innovation, climate solutions, and equitable adaption.

TCA is much more than a university science project. In addition to driving global research and innovation leadership from Canada, the initiative has a mandate to facilitate commercialization of the research to support economic growth and social innovation.

Driven by a robust innovation and commercialization strategy, and in collaboration with our many industry partners, TCA will advance the ocean science, technology, and innovations to start new ocean ventures and grow the existing cadre of excellent Canadian companies. TCA will deliver value to the OSC members and the other industry partners by co-funding world-class industrial postdoctoral fellows to work in partner companies, spur innovation through co-funded Seed Fund projects, and appraise the OSC, and industry associations with updates from frontline research.

And this is just the beginning of partnerships and innovation – TCA welcomes new relevant, strategic partnerships.

The time is right to make these strategic investments in Canada because the economic and climate mitigation opportunities are epic. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) asserted that all pathways to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C require carbon dioxide removal (CDR).

The amount of CDR required, depending on how quickly emissions are reduced, ranges from 5-16 gigaton CO2 per year by mid-century. With a forecast future value of $100/ton of CO2 removal, this would create an annual market value of between $500 billion to $1.6 trillion USD. Because the ocean stores 20 times more carbon than all forests and soils combined, and 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere, the ocean holds great promise of providing safe, responsible and durable carbon sequestration.

Canada has the potential to become the global leader for ocean-climate solution industries in the same way we have seen other regions transform into international hotspots. Think of how Austin, Texas became a tech hub, how Ontario become global leader in automotive manufacturing, or Aberdeen, Scotland’s transition into a global leader in offshore oil and gas technology.

Canada is already advancing towards this goal with world-class ocean industries working across most of the relevant sectors. Substantial Canadian non-dilutive funding and tax incentives are available from the likes of the Industrial Research Assistance Program, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, and Scientific Research and Experimental Development to support early and growing companies.

There is a well-aligned ocean innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada, including Novarium, The Launch, COAST, COVE, Creative Destruction Lab Oceans, and the OSC and Ocean Startup Project (OSP) is continuing to support strategic innovations and collaborations to grow Canadian ocean companies. The TCA project will further advance science, technologies, and regulatory innovation to enable scalable ocean-climate ventures.

An identified gap in Canada is the dearth of risk capital focused on investing in massively scalable Canadian ocean-climate technologies and services. The U.S. has Propeller, a $100M venture capital fund focused on ocean-climate solutions, and Norway has Katapult Ocean, a $50 million USD venture capital fund focused on ocean-climate and ocean-energy solutions. There is not an equivalent private venture fund in Canada with the right people in the right places to identify, support and scale early-stage ocean-climate ventures.

Based on Canada’s strengths and momentum in ocean-climate innovation, a private fund would attract additional private money into the ocean sector and substantial foreign direct investments into the country, thereby growing investment resources across Canada.

The time for climate mitigation is short and the economic and impact rewards are enormous.  Advances through OSC, TCA, and the many other people, programs, and companies working in Canada are aligned to be successful.  This is the decade to advance science, innovate technologies, take risks, and make calculated and informed investments.  Now is our time to put Canada on the map as the global-leader in innovative ocean-climate solutions.



Looking Ahead With Great Ambition

Kendra MacDonald, CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

It’s been a busy fall with lots of exciting project milestones, new and expanded collaborations, and dialogue with our members. As an organization, part of our work has also been around preparing for our renewed mandate and all the opportunity that comes with it. Today, we have more than 520 members from coast-to-coast-to-coast with hundreds of collaborations taking place across our portfolio of 86 approved technology leadership and innovation ecosystem projects, now valued at more than $390 million. There is momentum building in ocean in Canada, and more than ever before the world is watching with keen interest. That’s a message we hear often and something that collectively as an ocean community, should be a moment of pride.

On Friday, we publicly rolled out Ambition 2035 – to grow Canada’s ocean economy to $220 billion (5x growth) by 2035. This is a big ambition that has been informed by more than 400 people in industry, research, economics, not for profits, government and others across our membership. If you attended one of our fall engagement sessions, you would have seen an early discussion document built around this idea. In launching it we hope that you will rally around what this ambition means for you and engage with us and others to realize the potential of what Canada can be as an ocean nation.

As we reach the end of the first five years of our mandate and the end of 2022, I am so thankful for all the hard work of the OSC team to help us get to a place where we can set a bold ambition for the ocean economy for Canada.  There has been a lot of success, a lot of hard work and a lot of learning to get us to this place.  As we transition into the next phase of our journey, we are making organizational changes to the executive level with three new, expanded positions including Chief Growth and Investment Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Engagement and Communications Officer, where there will be a recruitment process welcoming candidates from both within and external to the organization to apply. We are currently working through the organizational impacts of these changes, with more information coming.

Melody Pardoe, our Chief Engagement Officer will be leaving the organization on December 23rd, 2022.  Melody has been involved in building the OSC from the beginning – building and delivering our ecosystem strategy.  Personally, I would like to thank her for all that she has done to get the OSC to where it is today and her commitment to building a strong ocean ecosystem from coast-to-coast-to-coast.  Melody will be pursuing new, exciting opportunities, and I know she will remain a champion of the OSC.

As the first five years of the cluster draw near, we look ahead with big ambition.

We look forward to continuing to build on what we’ve started, together.

Kendra MacDonald
Chief Executive Officer
Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

By: Ralph Eldridge, Indigenous Engagement Lead, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster


National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
By: Ralph Eldridge, Indigenous Engagement Lead, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

As a child, through the eyes of innocence, it was hard not to associate the term “holiday” with warm fuzzy feelings of celebration and togetherness; holiday celebrations that closed out the year and began a new one, summer vacations that seemed to go on forever, or even just a single day off school that allowed for one more day of weekend slumber. Sure, there was November 11th, but the reaches and effects of past wars and fallen soldiers offered up, at most, a brief reflection of my generation’s privileged space. Even as a Mi’kmaq person growing up in Newfoundland, struggling to find my place and connect with my culture that had been all but erased through generations of policies that forced assimilation, my struggle pales bleakly in comparison to those impacted by the legacy of Canada’s residential school system. Given the churches’ role in administering these schools, no irony is lost in referencing this week’s commemorative day as a “holiday.” [Holiday, Old English hāligdæg or ‘holy day’]

A year ago this week, Canada officially marked the first federal statutory holiday to honour the lost children and survivors of church-run, government-funded residential schools. Again, this year, as we recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we take time to remember those that, for too long, were forgotten and those that continue to experience the impacts of intergenerational trauma.

The federal statutory holiday comes in response to recommendation #80 of the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. The TRC Commission came about as an element of Canada’s largest ever class-action lawsuit. It spent nearly 8 years speaking to witnesses and survivors of abuse at residential schools and summarizing their findings within a 6-volume report in 2015. The report outlined 94 specific measures that could be implemented to acknowledge the painful history of the residential school system, and to create systems to prevent future such atrocities.

Choosing September 30th to mark this day was a very deliberate decision, as the date also coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a day Indigenous people set to recognize of the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well-being and also to affirm that, indeed, every child matters. This movement was born out of Phyllis Webstad’s poignant story, recounting how she was stripped of her clothing on the first day of mission school, including her orange shirt. Symbolically, of course, Phyllis’ favourite orange shirt represents much more than an article of forbidden clothing. It characterizes how family, culture, and hope have sytemically been ripped from Indigenous people for generations and how that loss permeates so many aspects of Indigenous life.

Sadly, it took six years to move forward on TRC report recommendation #80. Last year, revelations of an estimated 200 burial sites at a former BC residential school on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and further evidence by the Cowessess First Nation of an additional 750 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Saskatchewan played a part in expediting the 2021 holiday announcement. Since that time, even more discoveries have been made, primarily in western Canada, with an estimated 2,300 grave sites now revealed – 2,300 untold stories.

Indigenous people are often asked what can be done to support reconciliation. The first thing I would recommend is to show your colours and support Orange Shirt Day. Please skip the temptation to buy your orange shirt from a box store; rather, buy directly from an Indigenous organization, artist, or community. Secondly, read and seek to understand the 94 Calls to Action. They contain the roadmap to reconciliation and concrete measures to help Indigenous people in their journey to healing. Actionable recommendations are targeted toward primary conditions such as child welfare, education, healthcare, language and culture, and justice. Yet, despite the well intentions of each of these 94 recommendations, seven years have passed, and only 13 recommendations have been implemented. As Canadians, we have a moral responsibility to do better than this. Every Canadian should understand the true history of how Indigenous peoples were treated by the church and government. We need to push this agenda to the fore and make our parliamentarians commit to implementing the 94. We need to understand that being Indigenous in Canada has been no holiday.

At the Ocean Supercluster, our efforts towards reconciliation are, in part, being realized through our Two-eyed Seeing project. As we embark on a renewed mandate, we are striving to build a better model that breaks down barriers for Indigenous communities to partner on our supported projects and looks towards the generation of community-driven initiatives that focus on Indigenous priorities and opportunities.  Member feedback from our Ocean Ambition sessions across the country has been tremendously supportive of the Two-eyed Seeing model, with a strong desire to be part of the initiatives, training and workshops. Stay tuned for opportunities in the very near future.
Ralph Eldridge
Indigenous Engagement Lead,
Canada’s Ocean Supercluster


Canada’s Ocean Ambition: Shaping the next phase of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

By: Kendra MacDonald, CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

Almost four years ago, I made a significant change in career direction to be able to be part of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster journey. As I reflect on the last four years, it has been an amazing journey so far.

We set out with a big ambition, to change the way ocean business is done in Canada, to build an ocean economy that was more collaborative, digital, sustainable, inclusive and world-leading.

The journey has been both a rewarding and challenging one with a few bumps along the road as we built the team and processes while we were working to build the membership and project pipeline; lots accomplished in a short period with help and patience from our members and our stakeholders and I hope you share in my excitement as we reflect on where are today: a fantastic team of OSC employees that are passionate about the future of our country, our planet and the ocean economy and a tremendous membership that is working hard across the country and increasingly around the world to build solutions that are tackling climate change, decarbonizing shipping, increasing worker safety, providing more sustainable seafood and better monitoring our environment.

The world is paying attention to what we are doing in Canada, and we had an amazing opportunity to stand on the world stage at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where we participated in a panel on revitalizing our ocean economy on World Ocean Day with Whitney Johnson (Ocean Sustainability, Salesforce), Andrew Hudson (Water and Ocean Governance, UNDP), and Martin Koehring (World Ocean Initiative, Economist Impact). We also spoke in Portugal as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. I talked about our story to tell in my blog in June and the need for us to continue to increase our ambition, and that is what gets me incredibly excited about where we go from here.

As you are aware, the overall rebranded Global Innovation Cluster program was renewed in the April 2022 budget. We have worked hard all summer, pulling together our renewal application for submission on September 29th.

As Canada continues to develop the Blue Economy strategy, we as a Board and OSC stakeholders have been thinking about our ambition for the future size and potential of the Canadian blue economy and what the OSC’s role is in helping to achieve this. How do we continue to grow companies, increase collaboration, stay connected, increase our pool of skilled and diverse workers, and make sure the world knows about our impressive capabilities in Canada? How do Canadian companies continue to play leadership roles in the future of energy, transport and seafood? How do we continue to increase our data sharing to ensure we are making the best decisions for our country and world? How does the ocean economy make a much more significant contribution to our Canadian GDP than it does today?

We also look forward to getting our artificial intelligence programming started as part of the pan-Canadian AI strategy. Combining Canada’s strengths in artificial intelligence with our knowledge of the ocean will provide many opportunities for companies to build solutions that leverage the power of AI and data.

I hope you will take the time to join us at one of the six locations we will be visiting in the month of September to talk more about the OSC’s ocean aspiration for Canada and our programming areas and role going forward. The OSC was built based on member input, and we want to continue to make sure we are supporting our members. We would love to hear from you as we think about the role the OSC can play in the future of our Canadian ocean economy and our planet.

I hope you had a wonderful summer. My daughter was celebrating her 13th birthday this summer, so it has been a busy one for us, making her transition to being a teenager as memorable as possible.

Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time with questions or feedback, and I look forward to seeing many of you in September.

Kendra MacDonald
CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster