Coffee Company Provides Indigenous People With Clean Water

Planting the Seeds For Clean Water

Aug 12, 2018
Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow, the owner of Birch Bark Coffee Company, is selling coffee in order to support Indigenous communities struggling with boil water advisories.

Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow, the owner of Birch Bark Coffee Company, is selling coffee in order to support Indigenous communities struggling with boil water advisories. (Facebook)

The indigenous families living in Ontario are receiving clean water from an unlikely source, the Birch Bark Coffee Company. The coffee business is donating a portion of the proceeds from each bag of coffee that will go towards water purifiers to help those living without clean water.

While technological advancements have made it easier for many people to access drinkable water, there are still communities who surviving without this basic human right. Birch Bark Coffee Company is hoping to change that.

"I had this dream, this vision of creating a First Nations coffee company," founder Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow said. "[Water] is a fundamental right. People should not go without water. This is 2018."

What inspired Marsolais-Nahwegahbow to help communities access clean water two months ago? The businessman also works in the justice field, specializing in social issues, and when he read about the lack of resources available for many indigenous people, he immediately wanted to help and work on solutions.

Marsolais-Nahwegahbow and his dedicated team help him create and market the labels and bags for the organic, sustainable, locally sourced, and certified fair traded goods. Every 40 bags of coffee sold goes towards one water purifier for a deserving family.

The Ojibwe member of the Whitefish River First Nation in the Manitoulin District, says that people who see the coffee in local stores are interested in the product and eager to support the cause."I've only been [going] for two months and the coffee is selling like hot cakes," he said. "To see almost all of it gone [off store shelves] is really nice, it just tells me that people care."

Shoppers can find Birch Bark coffee in stores across Toronto, Port Loring, and Ottaway, and for convenience, they can also order the bags online. The founder hopes to inspire the First Nations youth to learn about entrepreneurship and think of ways they can use a business to help people on a local level.

"Right now, I'm raising $70,000 to be able to go into the community and put 700 units in," he said. "It should have been done a long time ago."

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REBECCA WOJNO, CONTRIBUTOR
Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.

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