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Solutions Labs

Co-creating Transformative Change

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What are Indigenous Solutions labs?

As Raven, we have pioneered a process for addressing some of the most intractable problems in Indigenous communities: the Indigenous Solutions Lab. Our Labs are based on social innovation labs, which are deliberately designed and facilitated processes that support multi-stakeholder groups in finding ways to transform a system to address a complex social problem.

The Raven Group marries a typical social innovation lab process with Indigenous ways of knowing and being, resulting in a process that prioritizes communities' strengths, needs, and desires. Specifically, Raven uses the Lab process to design solutions and leverage the power of social outcomes finance. The goal of these Labs is not to merely brainstorm, but for participants to co-create actionable solutions to the challenge at hand.

Indigenous Solutions Lab on Diabetes Reduction in Canada

The Indigenous Solutions Lab on Diabetes Reduction is a response to the epidemic of diabetes in many First Nations and will attempt to create a community-driven social finance opportunity for 6 First Nations. Community participation is crucial to each stage of the Lab process and ensures that solutions make sense for the communities we work with.

Diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a growing concern globally; Canada is no exception.

The situation is particularly dire for Indigenous Peoples in Canada, despite the fact that diabetes was non-existent in Indigenous communities until mere decades ago. A study done in 2016 showed that the lifetime risk of developing diabetes for non-Indigenous youth was a startling 5 in 10, but was even higher (8 in 10) for First Nations youth. While the non-Indigenous prevalence of diabetes was 5.0% in 2011, it was double that (10.3%) among First Nations off-reserve and more than triple that (17.2%) among First Nations on-reserve.

High diabetes rates have undermined individual well-being and disrupted the social fabric of Indigenous communities. The economic costs of diabetes in Canada are frightening; direct economic costs of type 1, type 2, and pre-diabetes are estimated to reach $39 billion by 2028 if current trends continue.

Many organizations and institutions, including the Government of Canada, have invested in initiatives aimed at reducing the prevalence of diabetes, thereby mitigating the effects of this health crisis. To date, these initiatives have seen few lasting results. The Indigenous Solutions Lab builds a business case for sustainable and community-desired diabetes interventions, paving the way for lasting transformation in the health of Indigenous Peoples.


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