First Monday Interview on Winning Entrepeneur of the Year

Written by Heather Anne Wakeling-Lister for First Monday

At age 39, Nathan Colquhoun, recipient of Entrepreneur of the Year has had more experience in founding projects and businesses than most will throughout their working career. Growing up in Point Edward, Colquhoun earned a BA in Religious Studies from York University. Since moving back in 2006, he has been primarily invested in the downtown area by working with Sarnia Artwalk and First Friday, and having a few different businesses in the area.
Among his previous endeavours are being a founding member and Pastor at theStory Church (located downtown, the Christina Street location now houses Nightlight and the Radiant Community Centre), Burger Rebellion and the Refined Fool. He has contributed to city politics as a City Councillor, and ran as a Mayoral candidate.

In accepting the award, Colquhoun shared his belief in entrepreneurship being a reflection of a community effort, in that no one does anything alone. For through Colquhoun’s eyes, his vision of Sarnia’s future looks over a lakeview of opportunity. That the lifeblood of the city, namely the communities’ commitment to support and welcome businesses goes beyond wealth, but speaks of (albeit to a somewhat modest) intelligent community that places value on owning its own destiny and not being dictated to by “the hands of the systems and power mongers above us.”

As of August 1, 2023, he owns 80% of the Sarnia Journal and works with Listenology, a company that creates customized training and helps employees turn knowledge into transferable skills. Interestingly enough, one of the skills learnt is how to fail—and how failure can provide valuable insights. And within insight lies recognition of the value of failure, for it teaches us what not to repeat, therefore offering opportunity to create what will allow for positive progress.

For Colquhoun, walking the value of failure away from the body-personal into the realm of the body-politic—bearing witness to those collective failures where people fall through pre-conceived social safety nets, offer opportunity to envision a future that “can become the kind of world we want and can create.”

Mentioning having been raised to “to watch for the abandoned places of cities and live alongside of those people rather than operating in the modes with those that actually run the city,” it is by honestly addressing these mis-steps that “we can do better, and guide ourselves toward a better future for all.”

With that being said, one can understand his centering belief of how important it is “to love the city that we live in, find the places where it is lacking and then use our creative outlook to journey alongside of the people in the city to a better future.”

In his acceptance speech, Colquhoun enthusiastically shared his vision for the Sarnia Journal. Noticing an opportunity to invest, he ceased it because “one of the things about the Journal is that reaches the whole county, and it is owned by people who live here, the media isn’t owned by shareholders, and the city benefits from coverage of local news.”

While megalithic news organizations are solely profit driven, “reducing the story to data and dehumanizing the whole process from the beginning,” Colquhoun said that “media is what shapes our understanding of the world we live in. Local media is no different and I am tired of all of our local media being owned by outside corporations who have no investment or care in our community.” For when “a city owns its own media, it can be a powerful tool to keeping people informed, holding the powerful accountable and unifying us all around shared stories.”

And, “I think a community that cares about one another is one that knows each other’s stories. We live in a tumultuous time in the world where multinational corporations have exploited and extracted so much wealth out of local communities from owning their media.”

However, while busy putting his ten year plan in place, the most rewarding experience since taking the helm at the Sarnia Journal is “hanging out with the existing staff and imagining what this organization can turn into.”


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