Social Innovation Cohort

Social innovation/enterprise initiatives on Vancouver Island were invited to participate in an exciting new pilot that will pair them with coop students who can best meet their social innovation need. During their time with local initiatives, the students in this Social Innovation Cohort will receive orientation, mentorship, workshops and opportunities to share learnings related to social innovation, social enterprise and social finance. The pilot provides funds directly to strengthen social innovation/enterprise initiatives, bursaries for student involvement and connections to post-secondary institutions. Meet our co-op students!

Social Innovation Cohort Students

Kalpesh Sharma

I was born in India, a land of rich cultural heritage. My dad was in different businesses, so at a young age I relocated with my family to different parts of India and experienced diverse cultures, and learned to speak different regional languages. I hold a Bachelors’ degree in Computer Application. After my graduation, I started working for Cognizant Technology Solutions; India’s is second largest IT Company and has been listed one among the Fortune 500 companies by Forbes. I worked in Cognizant for four and a half years. For the first couple of years I worked in the different segments of IT, which included Production Support, IT consultant and DBA along with few specific HR related duties. Later, I was appointed by Comcast, one of the major clients of Cognizant as their Change & Release Manager where my major duties were an amalgamation of Human Resources Manager and Change Manager Role. Other clients included Appleton, Hudson’s Bay Company, Cisco, and Nike (it was my favorite client because I used to work with customers to help custom design their shoe). Since I was the tech lead of my team, I learnt different traits of a good leader. It also gave me a chance to work with people with different view, which always helped me to deal with a one situation in different ways. When my interest in Human Resources field grew, I quit my job and planned for higher education. Out of the shortlisted colleges, I chose Camosun College and moved to Canada. I am pursuing my Post-Degree Diploma in Business Administration, Human Resources and Leadership. I am currently doing my co-op term with CR-FAIR, where our objective is to help low-income families of Victoria and other municipalities gain dignified access to nutritional and healthy food and I am much honored to be a part of such a team.

Pablo Frederick

My name is Pablo Frederick and I am a 5th year undergraduate student about to graduate with a major in anthropology and a minor in sociology from the University of Victoria. My primary focus is qualitative and quantitative research with experience implementing both forms of research from previous co-op work and school projects. After graduating I hope to apply these skills towards social policy/work to help implement positive change in the Victoria community. Currently I am registered in my 2nd co-op work term, as a cohort from the Vancouver Island Social Innovation Zone, at the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria working on the social finance project. The focus of this project is to understand the social finance sector on Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands, what the challenges or barriers are, and what can be done in the near future to improve the sector. The two main focuses of this project is the qualitative research study where key stakeholders are interviewed and a networking forum to connect and produce strategies for social finance. Thus far the work has been very engaging and has been a great opportunity to strengthen a broad range of skills from project management, conducting qualitative research, logistics/facilitation, etc. Thanks to the UVIC co-op program, VISIZ, and CSPC this experience will be a valuable asset as I move forward in future work.

Kathleen Heggie

I was born and raised (for the most part) in Vernon, BC. I caught the travel bug early on, as my family lived and traveled overseas, which has inspired me to do my own travels to Central America, South East Asia, Oceania, Europe and Morocco. Exposure to other parts of the world sparked my interest in developing a better understanding for how our world works (or doesn’t), leading me to major in Political Sciences. I began my under graduate degree at the University of Victoria in 2011, and have since become interested in the relationships between globalization and climate change, how this manifests from local to transnational scales, and how we can achieve greater environmental and social sustainability. Now in my final semester, I am on a co-op position working for Social Planning Cowichan and the Xwaaqw’um Project (on Salt Spring Island). With both, I am helping to develop a social innovation/enterprise framework for their respective community-building projects. Social Planning Cowichan runs “Cultural Connections Cowichan,” a program aimed at fostering better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members through experiential, reconciliation workshops. The Xwaaqw’um Project is an Elder-led, Indigenous revitalization initiative that offers land-based opportunities for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth and community members to learn about Coast Salish culture. I was recently accepted to the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, where I will be starting my Masters of Community and Regional Planning in September, 2016. I hope to build on much of what I have learned about community engagement through this co-op position by focusing on land-based, ecologically-minded planning that incorporates Indigenous perspectives.

Impactful Innovation

Advancing Social Knowledge

Post Secondary Partners

Social Enterprise Cohort Partners


Dr. Crystal Tremblay

Dr. Carly Bagelman

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