Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre has acquired Strong Nations Publishing, which has a focus on indigenous literature. Pictured are Beckie Wesley, Strong Nations Publishing director of operations; Chris Beaton, executive director of Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, middle, and Eddy Brown, warehouse manager. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre hopes to strengthen culture with publishing house acquisition

Deal to acquire Strong Nations Publishing finalized on Nov. 27

Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre is hoping its acquisition of Strong Nations Publishing strengthens indigenous culture in the area and its service delivery.

The non-profit announced Friday that it acquired the publishing house, whose mission statement is to publish indigenous literature from across North America, according to a press release. The company also has online and retail stores.

Chris Beaton, aboriginal centre executive director, said the current business model will continue for the time being. First and foremost, Beaton said the centre’s goals are to see profits come back into the community to support its work. Secondly, it hopes to look for ways to further include indigenous voice in some of the work that is being published.

“We want to encourage and support our community members to tell their stories and to know that they can be published and support them in doing that. [The third goal] I think, is really looking at the opportunities to support the indigenous language revitalization, those efforts that are going very strong here on Vancouver Island and B.C. [and] across the country,” said Beaton. “How can we support some of that work through the publishing field? We’re quite excited by it.”

The acquisition will also see opportunities for young people to gain work experience, as the aboriginal centre is applying to the B.C. Arts Council for co-op student and apprenticeship opportunities.

Beaton said NAC was already a customer of the publisher and owners Terri and Ken Mack were looking to retire. Terri will stay on for a year during a transition phase.

“They were also keenly aware that as a non-profit organization always out and seeking support from funders, that this might be a way to build up an independent source of revenue that doesn’t require a grant application each year and really allows us, as an organization, to strategically meet the needs of community without fitting into a particular funding guideline,” said Beaton.

Terri Mack expressed excitement about the deal.

“This team will certainly continue to be innovative and bring a resurgence of renewed energy to the company,” she said in a press release. “It is incredible to think where Strong Nations will be in 10 more years with this amazing team of people.”

Beaton said Snuneymuxw First Nation, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools and Vancouver Island University are customers and said he welcomes any partnership opportunities. NAC is also looking to publish non-indigenous material, with a focus supporting local authors, Beaton said.

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