About Al Etmanski

Al Etmanski is a community organizer, social entrepreneur and author. He is an Ashoka fellow and a faculty member of John McKnight’s Asset-Based Community Development Institute. He is founding partner of Social Innovation Generation (SiG) and BC Partners for Social Impact and co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN). He blogs at www.aletmanski.com. His new book, Impact-Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation is already a Canadian best seller.

My Challenge with Introducing Social Innovation to Indigenous Communities

SiG Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 12, 2015 on Al Etmanski‘s blog. It has been cross-posted with permission from the author.

A remarkable event is taking place in Winnipeg next week – Canada’s first ever Indigenous Innovation Summit.

Signing of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement by Chief Reynold Russ. Photo by Rolf Bettner

Signing of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement by Chief Reynold Russ. Photo by Rolf Bettner

I wasn’t certain whether I should accept the offer to participate. What could I say that would make a difference? Everything I’ve ever read about social innovation I’ve found alive and thriving in Indigenous communities. And Indigenous people hadn’t read the material! For example, consider the Gwaii Haanas Agreement. The Haida Nation grasped paradox and created something both magnificent and practical out of a seemingly unresolvable stalemate. The agreement acknowledges that the Council of Haida Nations and the Government of Canada share equal decision-making power to manage Gwaii Haanas National Reserve, despite conflicting views on sovereignty. This is sheer lobbying virtuosity resulting in the unimaginable. It is easy to understand why the agreement is studied by Aboriginal people all around the world.

I had a second fear. Social innovation technologies are still new and largely untested. And like all technologies they are embedded with the values of the dominant culture. That’s the same culture, which introduced and scaled residential schools and other tools of cultural destruction. I’m part of that culture. I’m sure there were many people like me at the time who thought they were doing the right thing by pursuing a policy of assimilation.

Gwaii Haanas National Park. Photo by: Parks Canada / Andrew Wright

Gwaii Haanas National Park. Photo by: Parks Canada / Andrew Wright

Then I realized I was looking at this event through the fog of my cultural bias. If any group of people knows how to evaluate the usefulness of any tool, technology or methodology, Indigenous people do. You don’t find paths back from the brink of cultural extinction without being wary of social innovators like me who are bearing gifts.

It slowly dawned on me. The reason to attend is not to contribute. It’s to receive. There is a heritage of aboriginal innovation and resilience that defines us as Canadians. “Innovation,” as the conference organizers declare, “is an Indigenous value.” The early settlers depended on it.

Today’s Indigenous change-makers are a dynamic mix of this heritage blended with cultural practices, ingenuity, strategic vision, entrepreneurship and reconciliation. And still they extend the hand of partnership despite how we have dishonoured and exploited their hospitality in the past.

The future of all our children depends on the leadership of Indigenous Canadians. And on folks like me stepping back and listening.

For information and tickets to the first Indigenous Innovation Summit, November 18-20th, in Winnipeg, click here.



“It’s not the truth unless everyone wins.”

– Cindy Boyko, Council of Haida Nation representative administering Gwaii Haanas Agreement

Have a listen to the music of Billy Joe Green a stalwart of Winnipeg’s music scene since the 1960’s and an elder of Canadian blues music. Listen here to Sharing Circle – Red Man’s Blues. 

Also check out Brown Town Muddy Water a new documentary about Winnipeg’s early indigenous music explosion. It’s produced by Jesse Green, Billy Joe’s son.

Becoming a Wise Traveller

Driving safety tips to keep you safe on the road

7 driving safety tips to keep you safe on the road

Road safety is of paramount importance in the trucking industry.

According to the 2018 Driver Safety Risk Report, trucking collisions cost fleets nearly $57 billion — covering expenses such as medical bills, vehicle repairs, and lost productivity due to downtimes.

The report also reveals that annual insurance rates increase by about 33 percent when an employee has a collision that includes damage to both the driver and the vehicle. view more for travel related information.

Additionally, a road collision without any injuries can increase insurance costs by up to 23 percent. Despite these numbers, only 42.6 percent of carriers employ driver safety programs to lower the risk of road collisions.

Here are seven driving safety tips that can help increase road safety and reduce the risk of collisions.

1. Know where the blind spots are

Visibility is key to preventing road collisions, especially if you’re operating a large commercial vehicle, which has more blind spots than a passenger vehicle.

Minimizing lane changes and checking your side mirrors at least once every 10 seconds can be an effective way to increase safety and road awareness.

It is also important to familiarize yourself with the blind spots not only of your truck but also of other vehicles on the road.

Here is an infographic that will help you understand how a commercial driver has limited visibility on all four sides because of the large blind spots around the front, back, and sides of the vehicle.

Commercial motor vehicle drivers should familiarize themselves with these blind spots and be mindful of these spaces around the vehicle when making turns or changing lanes.

2. Understand safe braking distance

The bigger the rig, the longer it takes to stop. In comparison to an average-sized car, it takes an 18-wheeler 40 percent longer to stop completely. For example, a fully-loaded tractor-trailer that is going on 55 MPH on dry pavement will travel to approximately 390 more feet in 4.5 seconds before stopping.

For new drivers who are accustomed to driving smaller vehicles, it may take some time for them to get used to the braking distance of large commercial vehicles.

It is up to fleets and safety managers to ensure that drivers go through a complete driver training program that talks about these differences in detail.

A road-facing dash cam can also be installed to ensure that drivers are keeping a safe braking distance from other vehicles. Dash cam video footage can be analyzed regularly to see if a driver needs coaching.

3. Avoid distracted driving

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of road collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that delayed driver reaction causes 90 percent of rear-end collisions.

Truck drivers need to be extra vigilant since they’re operating larger vehicles that are harder to maneuver, take longer to decelerate, and have more blind spots or “No Zones.”

Every manner of distracted driving, be it texting, smoking, or using mobile apps while driving, must be avoided at all costs to increase road safety.

4. Be vigilant of aggressive or reckless tailgaters

Sometimes, the only way to avoid road accidents is to steer clear of other drivers who are either too aggressive or just outright reckless.

Tailgaters, for instance, are drivers who drive too close to your vehicle — depriving themselves the adequate amount of space needed to decelerate in case you need to make a sudden stop.

Instead of accelerating to make way for space, the other driver needs to operate safely. A better approach is to switch to a different lane, if possible, and let the tailgater overtake you. Just don’t forget to use your turn signals and watch out for other vehicles and hazards on the road.

5. Follow all road signs

Road signs are there for a reason.

You don’t just follow speed limits and be aware of the vehicles in front of and around you. You also need to pay close attention to the road signs and local traffic rules in the area. If you are looking for a pre-licencing or just to improve your manual driving skills here is the course for New York drivers.

Truck drivers may occasionally go over the enforced speed limit — especially if they are running late or if they were detained for an extended period of time by a shipper or receiver. Speeding may cause them to lose control of their vehicle when maneuvering through sudden, sharp curves, uneven surfaces, construction hazards, and other road irregularities. Paying close attention to road signs may help significantly.

6. Follow the Hours of Service rules

The Hours of Service rules are there to help drivers, minimize driver fatigue, and increase road safety.

Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of road collisions. Driving past your Hours of Service limit is not only risky but also leads to HOS violations. Make sure you are always in compliance by following the different Hours of Service regulations.

Here is a list of 5 big driver violations — including Hours of Service violations — and how to avoid them.

7. Avoid hard braking, acceleration, and cornering

Critical safety events, such as hard braking, acceleration, and cornering, are more common than you think.

Fleets can initiate driver training programs to promote good driving habits and reduce the number of hard cornering, hard braking, and excessive acceleration events.

Fleets can also increase road safety by monitoring drivers for critical safety events, such as hard braking, excessive acceleration, and hard cornering. Some Electronic Logging Devices can help simplify and automate that process.

For instance, the KeepTruckin ELD solution has a driver scorecards feature, which can automatically rank drivers according to how safely they drive.

Drivers are ranked based on their safety scores — which is calculated on the basis of the aforementioned critical safety events. With the help of this safety score, safety managers can easily identify drivers who are involved in unsafe driving and behavior and require immediate coaching.

Driver Scorecards and Rankings Based on Safety Scores

Norman Bright, a fleet and safety manager at Woodford Oil, has managed to improve driver behavior with the KeepTruckin technology.

“KeepTruckin Driver Scorecards and Smart Dashcam footage have made our coaching much more effective. In four short months, we’ve seen a significant decrease in critical events, including hard braking events cut in half and an almost 70% reduction in hard accelerations.” — Norman Bright.

Read how Norman Bright improved safety with KeepTruckin.

Stay safe

Although passenger vehicles may be at fault in almost 85 percent of truck-passenger vehicle collisions, commercial drivers are more likely to be blamed. It is, therefore, important for every fleet to build a comprehensive safety program and use technology and data to keep drivers safe.

The next time you are on the road, keep the above-mentioned driver safety tips in mind. For more information and driving safety tips, consult the CDL manual.

The Social Innovator’s Journey

BC Ideas Guest Blogger, Al Etmanski, is an author, blogger (www.aletmanski.com) and social entrepreneur specializing in innovative, multi-sector solutions to complex societal challenges. Al is also Director of  SiG@PLAN. BC Ideas launched today and this blog is reposted with their permission.

Photo Credit: robin_24

Then, when he had flown a while longer,

Something brightened toward the north,

It caught his eye, they say.

And then he flew right up against it.

He pushed his mind through

And pulled his body after.

These words by Skaay, an oral poet from Haida Gwaii whom many consider British Columbia’s Shakespeare, describe the start of the social innovator’s journey.
[Read more…]

BC’s Advisory Council on Social Entrepreneurship Releases Interim Report

The following post was first published by Al Etmanski on November 27, 2011

Together: Respecting the Future is now on-line. http://socialinnovationbc.ca/

You can access and comment on the draft report using Google Docs. To download a full copy of the Draft Recommendations click here.

This draft report represents the current thinking of members of the BC Government’s Advisory Council on Social Entrepreneurship on how best to address our province’s tough social challenges now and in the future.  We have chosen Bill Reid’s Spirit Canoe as our enabling metaphor.  This mythical canoe which is on the back of every twenty dollar bill holds a variety of diverse occupants, not always in harmony, who have to work together to navigate the challenges of their environment.
[Read more…]

Future Quotient – Loving Future Generations

The following post was first published by At Etmanski on his blog on November 1st, 2011.

200 Japanese pensioners volunteered to begin the cleanup of the Fukushima power plant earlier this year. The self-proclaimed ‘Skilled Veterans Corp,’ asserted that they, not younger people, should risk radiation because, “they are more likely to die of natural causes before the cancers take hold.”

This example jumped out as a loving illustration of future thinking in, Future Quotient, a report just released by Volans a leading UK consultancy, think tank and innovation lab and JWT. Authored by John Elkington, Alastair Morton and Charmian Love (a talented young Canadian many of us hope to some day lure back to Canada), Future Quotient is designed to stimulate thinking in advance of of the 2012’s UN Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio.

The report’s implications are broader.
[Read more…]

Social Innovation – Doing More With More

The following post was first published on Al Etmanski’s blog, posted 6 April 2011.

The phrase social innovation is surfacing everywhere.  The European Union has just launched Social Innovation Europe.  The UK has multiple initiatives around social innovation. President Obama has an Office of  Social Innovation and Civic Participation. The Canadian Government has established awards for social innovation.  The British Columbia Government has created anAdvisory Council on Social Entrepreneurship, “to maximize social innovation.”
[Read more…]

Fighting the Crime of Poverty: The Life Work of Dr. Fred MacKinnon

The following entry is an excerpt from Al Etmanski’s blog, posted 22 February 2011.

“The sad and unfortunate fact is that we continue to view poverty as the fault of the individual and ignore the social and economic systems and mechanisms that are so often responsible for it.” FR MacKinnon

Fred MacKinnon served as a Nova Scotia public servant and poverty fighter from the 1940’s to 1990’s.  He retired after 55 years of public service in 1995 at the age of 83.
[Read more…]

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