The 2022 Women of the Year Awards: Community Builder – Winner

The winner for the community builder category of The 2022 Women of the Year Awards is Pepita Elena McKee of Impact Resolutions.

Pepita Elena McKee
Founder and CEO, Impact Resolutions

As a teenager in the 1990s, Pepita Elena McKee dropped out of high school and ran away from home. Now CEO of consulting firm Impact Resolutions, she describes that escape as her way to deal with racism, hatred and bigotry.

“To be told by teachers, You’re not white enough to be in the school play, to be physically violated and yelled at and told you’re stupid, these are stories you hear about, but I get it,” says McKee, who was born in Indonesia and grew up on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. “Looking back, I can only describe that time in my life as taking a lot of pain and hate and turning it into purpose.”

McKee, whose clients include the Northern Forestry Centre, the Sunshine Coast Regional District and the Saik’uz First Nation, calls Impact Resolutions a “human environment” company that offers social risk and impact strategies. For example, it provides All Nations Outreach Society, whose mission is to help Indigenous people suffering from intergenerational trauma, with services ranging from research to fundraising. The project’s partners and volunteers share resources to ensure that sustainable and culturally appropriate support is available.

When McKee left high school and hitchhiked across the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, working odd jobs, she had more questions than answers about Indigenous Peoples and their relationship with the Canadian government: “These are areas with no running water, no electricity, high rates of poverty. I was like, I’m in Canada?”

That experience inspired her research methods, which involve living with communities to understand policy implementation in practice. From 2006 to 2012, McKee travelled to and from the Philippines, residing in two communities that had been involuntarily resettled in the wake of a hydro development project. During that time, she did a master’s in sociology and anthropology at SFU. Before launching Burnaby-based Impact Resolutions in 2016, she helped create socioeconomic impact assessments foliquefied natural gas and other infrastructure projects in B.C.

McKee continues to focus on community impact through her own company, leading a team 34 whose lived experience spans some 100 First Nations here and across the country. They’re engaging the public and private sectors, Indigenous governments, nonprofits and academic institutions to answer the same questions she had as a teenager.