Book Review: An Army of Problem Solvers

By Asha Kerr-Wilson

From the Catalyst, Summer 2017

An Army of Problem Solvers: Reconciliation and the Solutions Economy
By Shaun Loney
McNally Robinson, 2016

Reviewed by Asha Kerr-Wilson

An Army of Problem Solvers is about empowering people to be the problem solvers of the big social, economic, and environmental problems faced by their communities. Shaun Loney is a social entrepreneur and former civil servant who has worked with and been involved in establishing a number of social enterprises – small-scale community non-profits that aim to address social or environmental challenges using market forces.

This book looks at the potential of a solutions economy, one based in social enterprises and other social-minded business, as a key part of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. Loney’s solutions economy is strongly based in social enterprises and building, or in the case of many First Nations rebuilding, local economies. This economy addresses the persistent and long standing social and economic challenges many First Nations communities have faced since colonization. Food and energy security are two of the most persistent and widespread concerns for First Nations communities. Loney’s stories show how social enterprises can address these issues in an economically, socially, and environmentally effective way.

Loney also focuses on the challenges that currently stand in the way of implementing these kinds of projects more widely. An Army of Problem Solvers highlights how current policies and systems continue to perpetrate colonial practices. They become barriers to reconciliation through systemically barring Indigenous peoples from the economy, creating many of the social issues Indigenous communities face. Loney makes a compelling case for how and why we should remove these barriers to allow the problem solvers to build socially and environmentally healthier communities to the benefit of all.

If you are interested in the intersections of reconciliation, social and environmental justice, and economic solutions, this book offers an insightful exploration of how addressing these in Canada are one and the same. Through stories of challenges and successes, we start to get a picture of what it could look like to empower some of Canada’s most vulnerable people to be “an army of problem solvers.”

  • Asha Kerr-Wilson

    ​Asha has been interested in environmental and social issues for many years, but became especially interested in the places in which the two areas intersect early in her university career. While doing her B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in Justice Studies at the University of Regina she found that the two issues were strongly connected inciting a passion for ecological and climate justice issues. This led her to get more involved in addressing these issues in her community including joining the Board of Directors of the university’s on-campus environmental and social justice non-profit organization. Raised and active in the Anglican Church, Asha became involved with the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development organization, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), in 2014. Through her volunteer work with PWRDF she seeks to live out the commandment to “love thy neighbor” with a global reach by sitting on the organization’s Youth Council and Board of Directors. Having lived in many parts of Canada growing up, Asha is pleased to be living in the nation’s capital and working to influence positive change around national ecological justice issues.

Share via
Copy link