Social Enterprise Heroes: Ktunaxa Kinbasket

This article is one of a series highlighting the finalists in the 2013 Social Enterprise Heroes event, presented for the third consecutive year by Junxion, along with KPMG and JDQ Systems.

What happens when a nonprofit social service agency develops a program that’s so innovative and successful that others are willing to pay to learn how to deliver that service? A social enterprise is born.

That’s exactly what happened when Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services Society, based in the Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia, started receiving recognition for its unique service model to keep Aboriginal families intact. “We are a product of our own success,” explains Eva Coles, Manager of Innovation and Prevention Services, who will be presenting the training and consulting social enterprise, one of three finalists in Enterprising Non Profit’s Fifth Annual Social Enterprise Heroes.  [See our previous article about the event here.]

When family support and child protection services began transferring from British Columbia’s Ministry of Social Services to local Aboriginal communities in the 1990’s, members of the Ktunaxa Nation expressed their desire to develop to “a social services agency that did things differently from the rest.” With that in mind, Coles and her team scoured the globe for culturally appropriate practices, adapting them into a new service model that would allow Aboriginal children to know their families of origin and prevent more children from entering the foster care and adoption streams.

The service model worked: the agency has reduced their number of caseloads to a third of what it was at its highest point three years ago, and can focus more resources on prevention rather than protection services. A growing stream of requests emerged for training and speaking engagements to share their model. And the more they shared, the more other communities from in and outside of the province wanted to hear.

Before long, the demand was more than they could handle. Then, Coles recounts, came the question that has birthed many a social enterprise: “What would happen if we charged?” The answer was resoundingly clear—there was a market for their training and consulting services. So in April 2012, Coles and her team started a social enterprise to teach their experience to others, thereby generating funds for ongoing professional development within their own agency.

The work has not slowed. Last year, agency staff conducted fee-for-service trainings locally and abroad, presenting speeches as far away as Norway and Australia. Since receiving a 2012 BC Ideas awards, demand has only increased.

The Social Enterprise Heroes event, which takes place at Vancouver’s Roundhouse Community Arts Centre on March 27—officially Social Enterprise Day in British Columbia—s the culmination of a full day dedicated to social enterprise in BC. Finalists pitch their social enterprise to a panel of four judges for prizes. Coles will be looking to the panel of Social Enterprise Heroes for their advice on managing this period of rapid growth, and is receiving pre-event mentoring from Junxion.


Presented by JDQ Associates, Junxion, and KPMG, the annual celebration has attracted new sponsors this year, including ASQ and TELUS. Vancity Community Foundation also continues to support the event with a grant available to one of the successful enterprises. The evening will be emceed by Derek Gent, Executive Director of Vancity Community Foundation, and Faye Wightman, President and CEO of the Vancouver Foundation. Learn more at