Circle of Abundance Ezine – Third Issue ‘Entrepreneurs’

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August 2022


WELCOME Circle of Abundance Everything Indigenous is Everything in Abundance

August 2022 | Third Issue


Cover Art and Design Arihwaiens Martin, Redwhip Media

Editor-In-Chief Andrea Curley

Coady Institute St. Francis Xavier University 4780 Tompkins Lane PO Box 5000 Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5 Canada

Contact Us

Indigenous Women Coady Program Graduates SHARING Entrepreneur Journeys

Andrea Curley Haudenosaunee Onondaga Nation Beaver Clan

Welcome to the Circle of Abundance Ezine – Third Issue ‘Entrepreneurs’. We all know that Indigenous commerce and trade date back with each other to our existence of being, long before contact of the colonizers. As hunters and gatherers all of our nations throughout the Americas had built allyship across the lands, our great Nations would trade amongst each other. Take Tatamagouche for example—about an hour and a half’s drive from the home of the Coady Institute in Antigonish, Nova Scotia is where the community Tatamagouche is located. I was told recently that in the Mi’kmaq language the word tatamagouche, to some means, ‘two rivers coming into one’. I was also told that the Wabanaki Confederacy and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy would meet in this very territory of land. No wonder then, upon visiting, I could sense an ease of a familiarity. Imagine the rich words that were spoken to each other and the items traded.
























When thinking generally about entrepreneurship today, my mind goes instantly to hearing the cash register bell and seeing the money drawer open. Return on investments, start-up costs, working capital, finance fees, taxes, market development, may be some jargon used in getting the logistical side of business running talk. However, after interviewing the women for this third Ezine issue I am seeing “Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship” through a new innovative, and glorious cultural lens. When Coady alumnae - First Nations, Inuit, or Métis women - begin a business, it is an immeasurable scary feat when deciding to go all in. With the support of family and great networks, we are nations of increasing economic possibilities. Kudos to the women facing the patriarchal systems of society in becoming comfortable and knowledgeable to live their dreams. There has been a consistent growing national interest in Indigenous Women moving into entrepreneurship, who are in business, living their true passions. Not


everyone has the know how to start a business, so let us bring to you some opportunities to build bridges. As you read through the personal and professional journeys of some IWCL alumnae of ‘life after Coady’ you may be inspired to want to know these women a little bit more. All entrepreneur women interviewed have shared their social media contacts and are completely open to discuss their journeys, and or answer any questions to anyone of our readers who may be interested. So please do not hesitate to reach out. This Ezine is to build networks from the past cohorts that have become enlightened in knowing that once we meet at IWCL that we are all a part of each other’s journey for the rest of our lives. In gratitude,

A. Curley

Andrea Curley


OUR PEOPLE Coady Staff Karri-Lynn Paul, MA Ed Program Teaching Staff Krista Hanscomb, MEd (She/Her) Nujikina’muet, Program Teaching Staff Andrea Curley Indigenous Engagement Coordinator Circle of Abundance

Circle of Abundance Advisory Group Salome Barker Mi’kmaq, Ktaqmkuk-Qualpu Frist Nation

Denise Mcleod Sagamok, Anishinawbek First Nations

Dr. Marie Delorme Métis, Calgary

Jane Meader Mi’kmaq, Membertou

Gawa’do:wehs LuAnn Hill-MacDonald Mohawk Bear Clan Six Nations of the Grand River Territory

Wyanne Smallboy-Wesley Chiniki Band, Stoney Nakoda FN

Skaydu.û Jules Teslin, Tlingit Yukon Victoria LaBillois Mi’kmaq, Listuguj Karen MacKenzie Cree - Métis, Edmonton Amiskwaciwaskahikan Papaschase Cree First Nations Treaty 6 Territory/ Métis Nation Regional Zone 4

Lynda Fox Trudeau Anishinaabekwe-Odawa Wiikwemkoong Uncede Territory Lorelei Williams Interior Salish/Coast Salish Skatin Nations/ Sts’ailes Mallory Yawnghwe Cree-Saddle Lake Cree Nation Treaty 6 Territory


GENERATING INDEPENDENCE Rose is an IWCL Alumna from 2011 and is now the CEO of Development Corporation for the Patqnkek band. Rose shares that the very reason to create a community business like Bayside was to eliminate poverty in her community by empowering individuals to take back their independence. Patqnkek has held programming around employment training for the community members in retail, custodial, covid and gaming. All monetary gains generated from the Bayside business goes into Dev Corp to be forwarded onto other community business investments.

ROSE PAUL Mi’kmaw Paqtnkek Nova Scotia IWCL Grad 2016

We look forward to having everyone visit us.

“At Bayside we allow local craftspeople to set up inside to help them with their own additional source of income and they are allowed to set up with no fee. There is a partnership with a female entrepreneur from Eskasoni right now to provide some baked goods, pizza kits, etc. We will be providing the community specialty cakes for special events in the near future. We look forward to having everyone visit us.” Rose Please visit this link to learn more paqtnkek-mikmaw-nation/ about the opening of Bayside. Also see link to the website to learn more about Bayside now


Photo: Karen Martin

PASSION PROJECTS “As a sixties scoop kid, I did not grow up in my First Nation community and I was raised by a non-Indigenous family. Instead, I grew up in the suburbs of London and Newmarket. If you asked me now if I had ever expected to become an entrepreneur, I would have said no. However, I can see now that there were signs of having an entrepreneurial spirit as a child. I can recall a time in grade 4 when my little sister and I created 10-12 paintings and we proudly put them on display in our ‘art gallery’ (treehouse) and sold them for a profit to my parents. That was my first sale.


PhD Candidate Anishinaabe Member of Kebaowek First Nation

In my 20’s, I taught computer software in Toronto. I didn’t see that as being entrepreneurial at the time, but I was an independent contractor and I taught Microsoft Office courses for business executives. Being an independent contractor taught me to have a strong work ethic and the years of teaching helped me to become a confident facilitator and public speaker. The computer software skills that I learned then became invaluable years later when I started my own business in 2015. To this day, I am still a wizard in Microsoft Excel. In 2013, I met and married my husband, Ryan “Rye” Barberstock, a Kanien'kehá:ka man from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario. At the time, I was completing my undergraduate degree in Indigenous Studies and Geography at Western University. I also completed the IWCL program in 2014. While I was learning about the histories of Indigenous peoples at Western University, Rye was working at one of the nearby First Nations as a senior administrator. In 2014, I completed an undergraduate thesis titled ‘First Nations Views of Economic Development in their Communities.’ Through my research, I learned about best practices for community economic development. I learned that economic development and business in First Nations communities can be instrumental in generating community wealth, which can be reinvested in community programs (e.g., cultural programs and language revitalization), capacity development, and infrastructure. During this time, Rye was experiencing first-hand what it was like for First Nations communities to work on economic


development projects through his work. Rye and I had many engaging conversations where we discussed how Indigenous communities could better tap into economic development opportunities. This resulted in a life-altering moment where we asked: “What if we stop talking about it and do something about it?” This was the beginning of our business journey. In 2015, Rye and I registered and incorporated our company, Okwaho Equal Source Inc. In addition, we forged an instrumental relationship with our third co-founder, Luke McIlroy-Ranga, a Māori entrepreneur, and procurement expert in Australia. Okwaho Equal Source is “an Indigenous social purpose enterprise on a mission to fuel social impact through human-centred design, innovation, and Indigenous-led research” (https://okwaho. com). Today, we work closely with Indigenous communities, academic institutions, and the public and private sectors, on important local, regional, and national Indigenous initiatives in Canada and Australia. As a consulting company, we take on a diversity of projects every year. However, one of our biggest passion projects is supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs. Since 2019, we have been offering mentorship support, a business accelerator, and a workshop series for Indigenous women entrepreneurs in Ontario. We hope to expand these services in the future to be inclusive of Indigenous men and Indigenous women in other provinces and territories. Every year we have had a full cohort of Indigenous entrepreneurs and we can see the need to provide long-term support. One of my favourite experiences working with Indigenous women entrepreneurs is the moment

where uncertainty transforms into confidence. I remember a moment when I was mentoring an Indigenous woman and I realized that she was no longer nervous about her business. She was confident and assertive. I looked at her and said: “Wow, you have really grown! You are a boss lady now!” We both laughed at that. I was so proud of her.

Go for it, and don’t let anyone hold you back.

One of the things that I love about Indigenous entrepreneurs is their strong commitment and passion for community. I have witnessed many successful Indigenous entrepreneurs contributing to cultural, social, and environmental issues that are important to them. For them, business is not just about making money; it is about social impact and giving back to their communities. If I could provide advice to an aspiring Indigenous entrepreneur, I would say “go for it, and don’t let anyone hold you back.” We are all unique and have gifts and strengths that we can tap into for business. There is always a learning curve for any new start up, however through persistence and an openness to learn, I truly believe anyone is capable of starting a business. The best part of being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to create your own path where you can live your passion every single day.” To learn more about Shyra Barberstock and Okwaho Equal Source, visit



When Jade first applied to IWCL she wasn’t a successful applicant. That point motivated her to get a better direction of her community and its movements and to get more involved. In 2016 she was accepted and tells me that her experience was nothing short of incredible. She was able to see, hear and feel things with new perspectives in looking at other indigenous women from across the nations in one room. Jade is currently working on a lead role as a mother with Crave TV about the sixties scoop. Going on to speak of the acting experience she says, “While on set, memories and faces of women in IWCL would cross my mind and I remember seeing what Mothers were in other Nations. Not only to experience learning with them but to really see daily what gifts they were bringing forth as mothers, and I drew strength from my past in my current acting role.”

Jade works full time in language revitalization and in an adult learning and essential skills program in Winnipeg. She has also been involved in other ventures beyond her work week like; free lancing voice overs with the Chiefs of Ontario for educational videos and in modelling and acting contracts which is more of that entrepreneurial balance side of her life. With that balance she then has the thinking of beginning her own development agency. Then bringing her to amplifying her curiosities and pushing for more from herself all of the time. All in all, knowing that connections and relations are so important when considering beginning a business especially in that industry of expression and arts. She goes on to tell me, “Creative development is not specific to one type of creativity, as it’s all types of creativity. So, I am trying to formulate this new business to be something more than just a modelling or acting agency. As first nations women there’s so many things on our horizon that we deal with in a day that is oppressive, diminishing, that’s violent and just ugly. We need safe spaces. The work I want to do has to be deeply rooted in safety in designed and created safety. I want betterment for everyone, however, how do I step away from the European ego centric ideas of being successful? I don’t want fame. I want to be that silent part in why someone chooses life, to support voices, to bring literacy forth as important, why maybe someone had a second thought of not picking up that bottle. I want to be in the business of life promotion and life enhancement and revitalization. Everything and more encompassed in a development agency.” We then got to discussing about feelings one might get when the beginning of starting a business as we all know that there are many questions that need to be deeply reflected on. Such as: someone is already doing it, so I don’t need to do that, or, having fears and doubts that my business idea isn’t good enough. Being afraid to jump in holds people back especially when looking at the money aspect in knowing there will be enough to get all the bills paid. Even if there is enough to pay bills it is still a scary feeling to just jump. All of this thinking is the WRONG MINDSET.


I have to start really believing that I am an artist and that I believe in the work that I do.

“I have to start really believing that I am an artist and that I believe in the work that I do. I can’t let myself get off track and I will if I don’t think that I am working 365 days and 27/7 hours. Wherever I am I am networking. Keeping in mind that the networking is so important for people to know who I am and more importantly what I am about. I found a mist of success when I really examined myself and held myself accountable. Networking is like weaving a dreamcatcher as in constantly meeting people, remembering their talents and interests and connecting people as well. To breath a development agency I need collaboration because I can’t do the work if I don’t have the support of the people.” Jade has also been involved with theatre training and trauma training and understands that victims of violence have moments of – Is this my last moment? It is an example of the moments like that where strength can be drawn from. Sometimes people are faced with grave danger and get through. Fearing success at any level because of self-doubt and self-sabotage kind of comes with never having a fair start. “I am afraid to sign the paper and register that business because of these doubts I have that are wrapped in my days and in my brown body.” She goes on to share, “Now I am learning how to be a weaver of people, of ideas, of connections and it is all happening naturally. People have interest in me, but I still feel very green and don’t feel knowledgeable, but then, I look at my resume, and that reminds me that I am readier than I believe myself to be.

That I have been living and that I am a lived experience that I can share. I lived in Ireland, India, Mexico and to remember all of the places I have walked. I want to revisit Elders and preserve who we are because we are racing against time. If only I would have had these ideas sooner and if I had started sooner and not have been scared (voice begins to quiver) imagine what we might have! Only if I wasn’t so afraid to do things sooner” As Jade takes a few seconds to compose herself she carries on. “I want to be different. I don’t want to be known as a celebrity or anyone’s celebrity. There is a refreshing point of view of not needing that stature of fame. This agency I’m working to develop is through a specific lens with platforms of utmost cultural sensitivity and healthily competencies projected as well. I am at the beginning of my entrepreneurship, it is artistic, it is design, and it is connection. It is to nurture and amplify inclusivity, resiliency, respect, preservation, sustainability, protocols and knowing and it is us.” Tears have been shed because it is authentic and real, because it comes from what we know, what is internal and real and alive within us. “ We ended our conversation with me asking her to give me a message to EVERYONE. She said, “DO NOT let fear decide your fate!” ellynjade@instagram Your story begins far before you made this appearance in this lifetime. It began ages and ages ago when your first ancestors made the journey.



“This story isn’t about me. It isn’t about us building thus business. It’s about our community coming together and people seeing how, if we just work together, we can do some pretty incredible things.” Coady graduate Mallory Yawnghwe is the Founder and CEO of Indigenous Box – a custom gifting and seasonal subscription box company that procures their products exclusively from Indigenous entrepreneurs. “We bring Indigenous values into modern commerce, where we’re elevating and building the community, and creating and strengthening the Indigenous supply chain,” Mallory explains. In 2021, Mallory and her husband and business partner, Kham, pitched Indigenous Box to an organization that offers start-up grants for Indigenous entrepreneurs. Their pitch earned them a $5,000 investment. One year later, the company has earned more than one million dollars in revenue. “We’ve been so fortunate because that means that hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone back into the pockets of Indigenous entrepreneurs, promoting the Indigenous economy, strengthening the Canadian economy, and doing what we said we would do to elevate and champion Indigenous people in a way that is from us, made with us in mind, but for everybody to enjoy,” Mallory says.

Mallory, who is from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, came to StFX in 2016 as a participant in Coady Institute’s award-winning Indigenous Women in Community Leadership Program. “It was an opportunity for me to talk about social enterprise, talk about what that could look like from an Indigenous lens, and also to hear all the perspectives of the other women who were all on their own journeys,” she says reflecting on her experience.

We bring Indigenous values into modern commerce. In 2020, the Institute launched a campaign to expand their programmatic offerings for Indigenous leaders which led to a million-dollar fundraising campaign and the creation of the Circle of Abundance – led by an advisory group of Indigenous women leaders from across Turtle Island. Mallory is an active member of the advisory group. “With the Circle of Abundance, my relationship with Coady has now come full circle – where I get to participate in providing a good space for other women to flourish.” Mallory says the key to the business’ success is simple: “connection”.



“Every post that I read, every unboxing video I see, people are talking about connections – understanding where they come from, understanding their responsibility to be allies, or finding connection within their own community, within their own nations.” Mallory emphasizes that Indigenous Box isn’t just a business, but a movement. “You know, this story isn’t about me. It isn’t about us building this business. It’s about our community coming together and people seeing how, if we just work together, we can do some pretty incredible things.

My role as a Cree woman, as an Nehiyaw woman, is to build relationships, to strengthen our community, to be a gateway to the beauty and the legacy that we hold as Indigenous people.” Written by: Jenny MacDonald

12 Angel Aubichon/Alex Manitopyes, Peepeekisis Cree, Métis, IWCL 2017


“IWCL was definitely a starting point for Indi City in so many ways, while Alex and I were there we were able to really articulate the long-term vision of Indi City. We realized ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) was the tool to help with our project and work to building economic sovereignty. Indi City started from falling in love with talking about fashion and expression. At one time I was beading a lot. With social media, back then, taking off with Instagram and Facebook we were able to market our creations. Alex and I then started looking at marketing beading into acrylic and had to think of how to mass produce to keep up with the orders. From idea to fruition new things come up in the business aspects like accounting and marketing and being organized in all of that side of things for sure. Indigenous entrepreneurship is in our blood memory we have an innate connection to abundance because our people weren’t about the monetary value of things, we were abundantly provided for by the earth. When we translate that to understanding what money is, if you understand the step-by-step processes look like in business then there shouldn’t be a time when to get stuck on one of the steps. We have supports and we call on our supports that we trust, and that speak the same languages, that we are familiar with to continue to add that positive energy. Indi City isn’t a company, it is something that we carry for the Grandmothers. The literal Grandmothers around me would gift me things and we would then create items. It was a sign to take what we had to turn it around and into something we could gift back. When we talk about Indi City it is more like a medicine bundle to create abundance and prosperity, and not so much a business. In looking at economic sovereignty we are in a time when we are reclaiming, and we can call back onto our blood memory and go forward, and we know our women were the architects of society. When we put this altogether that is a powerful indigenous entrepreneur. Colonizers were apt in destabilizing that bi feminine energy within our communities as it destabilized our entire way of life. The women were disempowered, and the colonizers perfected that with their own women for hundreds of thousands of years. As indigenous women entrepreneurs we have this upper hand because the scales are tipping towards a restored balance to where we can recreate or go forward in creating that egalitarian society that we already know. We were interdependent on each other.

Indi City isn’t a company, it is something that we carry for the Grandmothers.

Partnerships and collaboration with reciprocity with non-indigenous allies is where reconciliation comes in. Reconciliation is about economic restabilizing and we need to be looking at what that looks like in going forward. We need to work together to make it work to create spaces. Reconciliation is more than just education. There is no reason for an indigenous person to be afraid of becoming a businessperson. It is a step-by-


step process and with the right people in supports everyone can collaborate to move forward in this way. Indi City provides a seat at the table. Our people cannot have that seat at the table until they are out of survival mode. That survival mode is not just about reclaiming healing and education it is also about our economic sovereignty. We are in this space as indigenous women in leadership, in entrepreneurship, and the institutions are the ones to be making these tables for us to amplify our voices as we move forward in a good way. The ability to create collaboration of matriarchal absolute ways of life with the patriarchal institutions is a good beginning. IWCL has been ahead of itself, and more institutions would benefit from creating more of those spaces for matriarchs to strategize what matriarchs looks like today, together.” Angel tells me, “Some days can be draining, and I am aware of who I am, and that I can’t pour from an

empty cup. I think all entrepreneurs would speak to finding that balance of knowing what we need in the day. What is going to fill my cup? I keep in alignment with my mind and my heart and keep in check on how I perceive the world. When you have a team and can call the right people for supports, and to be of service to others, that is entrepreneurship is also about. Indi City isn’t about just making and selling earrings it is about reminding people of their power. The earrings hang by your face and when people look at your face they look into your eyes and see you. When we create designs, we are mindful about the integrity of the business and the alignment with self. When someone is in alignment with self, they are good.”

https://www.Indi @indi_city

10 14 Summer of 2021



Future of Work and Workers -September 15-December 16, 2022 programming without accessing documentation and each other in person. We course? now live in a world where people up and coming Who should take this into the workforce grown accessinginthe internet. The This course is designed forhave anyone whoup is interested work and workexpectation is to bestaff able wherever they ers including, government at to thecommunicate local, provincialfrom and national levels are and wheneverregarding they choose. Circle of Abundance has who have responsibilities labour,The employment, skills, entrepreneurship, or women gender; services providers; labour begun in 2020and with theseemployment irons in the fire! unions and workers’ organizations; and private sector, community-based Let’s take a look! organizations, NGOs and academic institutions, and think tanks.

Building Abundance in Indigenous Communities

Indigenous Women in Leadership -October 24-December 9, 2022 Short Course Who Should Apply? is to: The purpose The course’s strength is in the geographical and cultural diversity of Indig• Challenge and reflect on the assumptions and practices that enous women who attend, share, and contribute meaningfully. The mix can help or hinder you in creating and sustaining meaningful of ages, leadership experiences, backgrounds, cultural knowledge, roles community change. and responsibilities, education, and working lives creates a vibrant learning context. • Explore Indigenous examples of community-driven

development. Feminist Leadership for Justice, Equity and Ecology • Practice participatory tools and methods for uncovering October 24-December 10, 2022 community strengths and putting them into action for community Who Should Apply? projects or advocacy efforts. This course is open to women of all ages and backgrounds who are able Next BAIC Course date offering : January 10 – February 1, 2022 to demonstrate the ways they are currently engaged in local development in theirClick respective strength of this course is in the diversity herecountries. to learnThe more! of people across all gender identities. The rainbow coalition of ages, nationalities, family responsibilities, education, religions, orientation, ethnicities, and working lives creates a dynamic context for learning. Women who are leaders and those who aspire to ignite their leadership potential are welcome.


PARTNERSHIPS are always welcome to explore innovative streams to offer programming on campus and beyond through the Circle of Abundance at Coady Institute, StFX. Please contact Karri-Lynn Paul @

Irons in the Fire



ZAAGIDIWIN MEANS LOVE Being a graduate of Coady helped me use transferable skills in representing myself. Attending Coady in 2019 was a transitional period for me.

LISA OSAWAMICK Ojibwe Odawa Wiikwemkoong, ON IWCL GRAD 2019

Zaagidwin Counselling and Consulting (my business) was already started but I knew I wanted to do more and that attending the IWCL program at Coady would help me take those next steps. I was more confident to carry on with my business after Coady because it helped me to add to my bundle with leadership and confidence. In working through my community project went hand in hand with what I wanted to do in the community. I had opportunities to build partnerships and to build on the foundation of my practice. I did a four-week women’s wellness series that was well attended, and it really instilled the components of empowerment. My project complimented a launch of my business, and it worked out well. Marketing my business was through my own efforts at creating posters, word of mouth, used social media platforms and emails. Being a graduate of Coady helped me use transferable skills in representing myself. I opened in 2019 and have been working since, it is hard work however I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I was acknowledged by the Ontario Association of Social Workers as a recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Social Worker Award. Learn more; https://


GRAND CHALLENGES CANADA and the CIRCLE OF ABUNDANCE On June 15, 2021, we came together to celebrate the past, present and future of Indigenous Innovation Leadership in Canada. This PaddlesUP! celebration was hosted by the Indigenous Innovation Initiative and the Circle of Abundance Program at the Coady International Institute, in partnership with PowHERhouse Impact Media Group. See event overview, outcomes, and calls to action here. We are an Indigenous innovation platform and our vision is to improve all life through Indigenous innovation. To do this we provide culturally rooted wrap-around support for innovation projects that are by and for First Nation, Inuit and Métis Peoples.


PASSING THE FEATHER I have been in business for over five years. My journey started when I took a course on apothecary, and I fell in love with it. Then I thought, why not make my own essential oils. I started my own line of oils from scratch beginning by harvesting my own products like sweetgrass, cedar and sage. I never would have thought that I would be this one woman show, but all the times working alone even into the late hours, it made me. As an Indigenous woman, my intention was to offer something unique and different from usual things in I see in markets, like beadwork and ribbon shirts. I absolutely love doing markets on weekends and the feedback is overwhelming. I have so many people requesting my line. The jewelry and the oils I make are featured in two stores, one in the United States and one in Canada.

PAULA JOHNSON Cree Woman Design Essential Oils IWCL Grad 2013

This business has changed my life and has given me a life I love.

Everything that I do with my hands, like my jewelry for example, I feel like I am giving of myself, giving some of my heritage. I am able to educate people on what essential oils are all about. It takes about 6 weeks to create one oil from harvesting to extraction. When I do workshops or travel there is always a sense of pride because I know everything in the jewelry, pendants and oils because I make them myself—from planting the seeds to harvesting to creating the oils—every sale makes me happy and that is the drive that keeps me going. . The first market I did I made only $40.00, and I was crushed. After thinking about where I was then to today, I very much found it is not so much the money as it is about sharing my passion. Sharing everything about what I do is the most rewarding piece to running my business. I am grateful to have the opportunities and points of sales. My products exist with every intent of love and giving. As an artist the mind is always going, always asking, how can I make this better? I was scared to begin my own business, I often felt like quitting. I also didn’t feel like I was going to be going very far in my job, and I felt that my workplace was very toxic with lateral violence, and I wasn’t happy. My education is in Justice and when I returned to my community from being away for school, it just didn’t go over well especially with the older women. They would make rumors about me, whisper about me and even snicker when I walked into the office, and hide my pay sheets. I couldn’t stand it anymore so I quit my job. It is the women within our communities that are hard to get along with. That was my motivation to put everything I had into my designing. My supports have been my husband, my sister and my mom mostly. When I feel like quitting, they encourage me to keep going. I


started in my mom’s kitchen and wrecked her table. My sister helped me with the graphic designs for my logo and that encouraged me more. This business has changed my life and has given me a life I love. Words cannot express enough how it feels to put your passion out there. When I started this business, it seemed no one believed in me (other than close family) and I wasn’t really making any money but I kept going. If I am able to help anyone, it would be in supporting those times when they think it’s time to quit. I want to help where I can because no one was there for me. When someone feels like no one believes in them, I want to talk to them. I taught myself everything I know, and no one can take that away from me. It seems as though Indigenous people are the worst at trying to put down another Indigenous person who is happy. It is hard to be in a community where people are so eager to bring others down. Especially in our own communities where it is the women who behave this way, when there should be support and encouragement. We always have to fight our own people for our own place or right to take up space. I

ask, what did I do to them? When I was in my husband’s community, it was even harder as I was not from his community. The lateral violence was bad. When I was younger, I had a non-Indigenous teacher tell me I was going to do nothing with my life, and I was just going to be on welfare, that I was only going to be a statistic. I try to be as positive as I can and think about this quote, “WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 13-YEAR-OLD SELF?” Thinking back to high school, I was usually one or two of the only native kids, so I experienced ignorance and biases even before I knew what they meant. I have learned unkind behaviors all my life and that too contributes to my resilience in believing in myself and holding my head high. Even if I have tears, my dad always told me to still hold my head high. As an indigenous woman we are born already defeated because of everything we have to live within our lifetime, and especially all of the inner self doubt. Now, experiencing all that I have, I learned to say to self – “SHUT THE DUCK UP!” com/watch?v=C2z5ky8OiTw A link to positive healthy self-talk.

20 Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia, IWCL 2019

EVA KEEWESOO N Eva Keewesoo Nicholas Recently I have been able to focus only on my art because there has been such an amazing demand that keeps me busy. Between attending workshops, delivering workshops, and creating my pieces of art, I don’t have much time for anything else besides my family. In looking back, I am thankful to have been able to spend the time learning skills to be carrying on those traditions as best as I can. I am happy that I liked learning quill work, and that I have chosen to keep it going. Also, teaching other’s how to do it helps keeps some of our traditional ways alive. I recently got a contract to make 12 drums. I won’t be posting on social media about the progress of these drums, as these drums will be for a specific intent and purpose. I make my drums from scratch: from the beginning of the thinking of why I am doing, and what I am doing and for who – is everything. Then I start with the materials, from hunting for the hides and using all necessary parts of the animal to make a drum. Sure, I could order items online and have things shipped to me to make the drums but that isn’t the kind of artist I want to be. I want everything I do to be as authentic and as original as possible. Each drum is made with the intent of respect because drums may be used in ceremony or for powwow or for whatever reason the person getting the drum will use it, and it may be sacred to them. Therefore, in making drums, it is also a sacred process for me, every step of the way. To me that is art, that is authentic and that is original. The paintings I do on the drums sometimes are by request, and sometimes I am trusted to know what to paint, and people are happy with the end product. Being an Indigenous woman entrepreneur in Mik’maki to me means to keep doing what I feel like doing, to keep doing what makes me feel good in knowing I can help next generations carry on these skills too. We learn from one another here. That is my business, working with the people, for the people.

I want everything I do to be as authentic and as original as possible.




IWCL PROJECT SNEAK PE The 2022 IWCL cohort is an amazing group of caring, committed changemakers and the mentors are looking forward to supporting everyone throughout the summer. We will all be looking forward to coming together for graduation in September and hearing about the journeys of these amazing indigenous women leaders! Krista Hanscomb – IWCL Lead

Megan Leenie NWT Inuit My project is called “A woman’s perspective of the Inuvialuit Land Claim Agreement”. I am interested in shedding a light on what it was like to be a woman amongst all the men during this process of negotiations over time that led to the final agreement that was signed in 1984. Altogether six women signed this document, but sadly only four are left to interview. I am looking forward to seeking someone close to the deceased to get a feel of the legacy left behind. The outcome of this documentary is intended to broaden youth perspectives, and to encourage future changemakers to be inspired from the stories. My project will also educate and be a resource to the people about this time in our history.

Carmen Carriere Vancouver British Columbia Métis My project is going to be a collection of stories. I am asking women to tell me about how identifying as a Métis woman forms who they are. I have been meeting women throughout different regions of the province and am seeing shared themes emerging. The goal of my project is to educate and build pride amongst our women by having these stories to see themselves to build community. The second prong is to use stories as an advocacy tool. It is the stories that make the biggest impact. Down the line we could be looking at podcasts.


Mandi Olson Fort Francis Treaty 3 Northern Ontario My project falls right in line with my passion. The goal is to have five community members per season complete the twelve-week program called ‘Scars and our Stories’ consisting of one-on-one body mapping. We take a photographic look at the body’s scars and markings to tell historical stories while connecting to the land. This project will help with creating safe spaces to create healing bundles to carry forth and share with others on how to build bundles for self-healing. I am a helper, and I am connected to helpers. This project is a way to do ‘mental health’ in a different way.

Kayla Tanner Winnipeg Manitoba Saulteaux (Ojibway) Métis My project is to tell the origin story of Ka Ni Kanichihk (Those Who Lead in Cree). It will be in two parts through interviews and storytelling. the first story will be gifted to the organization as a historical resource. The second version will be Ka Ni Kanichihk’s story intertwined with my whole experience with Ka Ni Kanichihk. Once published, all monetary proceeds will go towards the most underfunded program named ‘The Butterfly Club’. I want to ensure that for years to come, the organization of Ka Ni Kanichihk can be confident in their history to be guided into their future.


CHOICES The connection to the ocean waters was such a significant time for me, when the 2015 IWCL cohort gathered together on the beach with May Louise and Jaime. We had a bonfire, Jaime sang songs, and we had a great time hanging out. Doing Yoga on the beach during IWCL kicked off SpiritFusion (the name of my yoga business) for me. SpiritFusion was a wellness practice that combined my ancestral teachings and medicines together with the movement of Yoga. Following the IWCL program, which helped accelerate this small business, I led SpiritFusion for four years as a sole proprietor. The program helped me understand how integrating my cultural teachings allowed me to be a different type of entrepreneur from how I’ve seen everyone else do it.

JADE HARPER Anishinabekwe Winnepeg Manitoba IWCL 2015

I am excited with how my journey is going and feel grateful everyday for each opportunity that comes my way.

Yoga is not ancestrally part of my culture. The more I explored Yoga as a business, the more I learned about the cultural appropriation of Yoga taking place on turtle island. With this new understanding, and after four years, I decided to take a step back from engaging Yoga as a business. As Anishinabe, we know how it feels when others appropriate our culture. At the time, I could not resolve this within myself. I didn’t, and don’t, feel guilty or ashamed for employing Yoga in my work because I believe it is vital to our healing as Indigenous peoples to engage with any wellness practice that will help support our healing. SpiritFusion brought people together and collectively we shared our practice and we all contributed to a sacred space that has remained an integral part of my foundation as an entrepreneur. In 2017, I joined the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (NIMMIWG) as a Health Support and Community Relations Coordinator. I had the privilege to hear and support families and survivors as they shared their experiences and stories of their lost and taken loved ones. Once my work at the NIMMIWG was complete, and after 17 years working in mental health promotion, addressing human trafficking and exploitation and violence, I needed a break from supporting my relations on the front line. Shortly thereafter I transferred my skills to start promoting music by Indigenous peoples to International music festivals. Travelling worldwide and amplifying Indigenous voices became a passion, but quickly ended as the COVID19 pandemic hit in early 2020. This forced many people in the music community to pivot and take their music online, including the music festivals around the world. I wanted to continue supporting music and hired a film crew to produce live music showcases for our international partners, and this was my introduction to the film world. Today I am my own small business. I contract my services as a field producer and coordinator to film companies that focus on telling Indigenous


stories. Field producing is about going into communities and holding space for peoples to share their stories and experiences. I meet with people who work on and off camera to ensure that we have what we need for a smooth production. Recently, I was the field producer on the prestigious 2022 Inspire Awards that broadcast national on CBC and APTN in June. This was my first national broadcast show experience. The opportunities that I have earned in just a few short months have been heavily connected to my social networks with Indigenous women across Canada. Adeline Bird and Jennifer Podemski, two matriarchs in film, have been integral to my learning and understanding of the film sector. These relationships are important when making a career change as these two have been my biggest cheerleaders. I am currently working on a documentary that is recording the experiences and perspectives of the official First Nations delegation that attended the Papal visit to Rome, Italy in March 2022. I will also be including my own intergenerational experience in the film. I understand that there are mixed feelings about the visit to the Vatican and this influences how I move forward in my producer work. When I am documenting personal perspectives and stories, my team must be cognizant of many individual needs. This, to me, is social responsibility. Being in front of a camera can be intimidating. Sometimes, people may be shy or nervous to share their stories. My response to their needs is paramount to being able to share their story in a good way. I sometimes open up and share my own stories about family, community and my history as it can be very relatable to the topics we are discussing. Part of the responsibility includes knowing when to stop sharing my story and ensure that I am not taking up too much space from those I interview. Boundaries are an important part of my work as a producer and I learned this through my many years in mental health working with individuals, families and survivors. Balance is key! Another responsibility I have as a field producer is ensuring I am capturing the stories from Indigenous peoples

in the most authentic way. I try not to get tied up in the language that the mainstream media uses to describe Indigenous experiences. As a rookie in film making, this can be tricky, so developing a strong network of professionals and community is integral to the success and authenticity of my work. I also employ trauma-informed interviewing practices where I spend time with those I am interviewing and develop a relationship based on individual cultural practices and community relations. These conversations provide an opportunity for me to share my principles as the interviewer and establish a safer space to share before the cameras roll. If anything comes up within an interview that the interviewee is not comfortable sharing publically, we will work with the individual to ensure that their story is shared the way that they want it to be shared. All of these pieces are important to being socially responsible and a good relative. Relationship building is vital, and I remain open and available to anyone who I interview as they can contact me before, during and after the production by phone, social media and email. On top of the documentary, I just wrapped up a 3 month fellowship with a mini CRAVE series called ‘Little Bird’, a story about a 60’s Scoop survivor who is on a journey to finding her birth family. Looking ahead, my priority is to get as much experience as possible producing documentary films until I am 40. In the future, I hope to have my own production company to keep telling our stories in a documentary film style. I also dream of someday having a show that amplifies the perspectives and experiences of Indigenous women on what is happening in the world. The show would be an all-Indigenous-led team that includes hosts, fashion designers, set designers, and film crew. Right now, I am excited with how my journey is going and feel grateful everyday for each opportunity that comes my way. A loving message and reminder: I acknowledge the survivors and families who are reading this and who may be triggered by my work. You matter. I see you, I honour you and I love you.


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