On Identity (and photo Journals)

Oki, Tansi Niiksokwa (Hello, my relative)

I hope to be able to bring you a blog soon on Identity, sharing stories from several other Indigenous individuals about their experiences in forming their identity in our post-colonial world. If you are interested in being a part of our first collaborative blog, you can send me a paragraph to be included and we will gift you with a bathbomb or medicine gift. I am not going to put a timeline on this, and if you happen to want to submit after the initial post is published, please feel free to connect as we can always do a follow-up post to the original.

Some guidelines to get you thinking about the piece are as follows, but really, we are open to hearing your story, as you want it told. We just ask that you are a self-identifying First Nations, Métis, or Inuit to be included and please include this detail in your paragraph.  Here are some questions you can answer, but again not necessary if you just want to tell us a story. There is no guideline for length. Fill out our contact form here to be included:

  1. How would you describe your heritage?
  2. Has your heritage played a role in your identity formation?
  3. What role has Canadian society played in your identity formation as an Indigenous Youth or Individual?
  4. Anything else you want to share about your story as a Self-Identifying Indigenous person?

We will also now be utilizing the site for more Art posts and updates, as well as sharing some older photos – did you know that we have been dabbling in photography for about 15 years now? We started with an old wind-up film camera at about 10 years old; we have always been interested in photography, but we never did anything with our photos. This has resulted in a ton of random photos LOL; we have decided to start to share them in the form of photo journals, which we will be posting here on the site. We have been blessed to be able to travel quite a bit in 2018 and have some great shots we want to start sharing of Kanata. We also want to share some older shots to show our progression as a photographer.

Our first photo journal will be posted prior to our collaborative identity post and will be our self as the subject, with photos taken by us and others. This photo series is one of the steps I am taking to rectify the relationship to my own body and vessel as an Indigenous Woman, as there have been times when I have felt disconnected to myself and was very, very unkind to myself.

In 2019, and onward, I am beginning to take a kinder and more compassionate approach to myself to rectify this most important relationship with Self:

Blog Updates, February 2019

Oki Tansi my dear readers! How long has it been since I last updated? TOO LONG!

A lot has happened since then; I moved to BC, but I am back in Alberta again now after things didn’t quite work out as planned. Such is life, and all I can do is keep moving forward. I had intended to keep my business in BC, with links to Alberta (given that my extended family is still located here). However, after unexpectedly moving back from BC due to several reasons, I have made the decision to relocate the blog business back to Alberta again for the time being – this doesn’t mean I won’t be back in BC though! I am hoping to continue doing work across the country through my blogging and vlogging, bringing you dear readers new exciting content. For now, I am focusing on doing work in my own home community of Kainai (Blood Tribe), as I re-group from the move and plan out 2019.

If you have been following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube, you will know that we have decided to take the blog in a new direction in 2018 and into the future. You may have also noticed that we have a brand-new look to our website + a new domain name + Shop, which incorporates our social media channels; how cool is that? Let us know what you think of our new look by leaving a comment on our social media channels, or below.

Our new direction for the blog is less focused on just showcasing entrepreneurs, due to the time it takes to create those blogs, and is now more focused on WELLNESS through ART, ENTREPRENEURISM, and FINANCIAL LITERACY. Why this change in direction, you might be asking…?

In addition to keeping busy working full-time these past 2-3 years, we have also been actively attempting to network with entrepreneurs and have been attending many a-conferences in between. What we noticed after working in the financial industry for approximately 5 years, is that there is a need for Financial Literacy in our Indigenous communities, and many of you have questions about taxes, credit, and investing. While we are by no means an expert, we have been blessed to be able to gain an understanding of these topics through our formal education, as well as through direct experience working with Indigenous communities, entrepreneurs and artists through our travels. We have begun to be able to apply such concepts to the Indigenous Market, and actively use these concepts in our own financial planning and tax planning and want to share that knowledge with others. We also want to create more community among our readers and have been looking at new ways to drive traffic to our blog site, while helping other entrepreneurs and artists at the same time. While we went to school for business, our first love has and will always be ART! Therefore, we have decided to make the change to the blog’s focus and future direction (plus, it allows for much more content and avenues for posting content to keep you dear followers engaged and on-top of Indigenous Busy-ness in the West). Don’t worry, we will still be doing showcases on Indigenous businesses, as this is how we got our start, and there is still interest from entrepreneurs in being included in our blog content.

With these changes, new opportunities are bound to come up, and we are so excited to announce that we are also a new Brand Ambassador for CHEEKBONE BEAUTY, which is an Indigenous owned and operated Make-up Company from the East. They have beautifully pigmented uniquely named lipsticks and products, but another great thing about the Brand is that they also give back to Indigenous Education through their profits. We will have a longer blog post about their work in Indigenous Communities and why we support this work for you in March.  Stay tuned!

We are having so much fun sharing social media updates for the brand and wanted to let you dear readers in on our DISCOUNT CODE! You can support this brand’s endeavours in supporting Indigenous education by making a purchase, and you can also save yourself some cash (10% off total order to be exact). How you can do this is by using our DISCOUNT CODE “CHEYM98” at check-out, or by following this link.  Your purchase helps support Indigenous education, as well as the work I do in Indigenous communities, as I receive a commission from the sales collected under my code. We are so grateful for your support, as it helps us bring low-cost or free Informal Networking sessions and other relevant workshops to Indigenous communities, entrepreneurs and artists in the West (BC and Alberta).

We currently have a call-out going for our first collaborative Blog, about IDENTITY, and will have some submission guidelines out to you by next week that incorporates a bit of our own story and background. We are hoping to have this blog out by end of February or early march and all submissions will receive FREE Bathbombs from the Shop, for their submission to our first call-out. You can fill out our contact form here for more details before the submission guidelines are out, or if you have an interest in telling us your story and sharing with our followers.  We hope to continue to create a community for and by you, through these collaborative blogs and give-aways, so please stay tuned on our social media for these calls. Our next give-away will be an item from our first Raven Reads subscription box. Be sure to follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or order for the next quarterly box here. We are way too excited for our first box, and look forward to bringing you a vlog on our unboxing.

We will also be posting a Vlog of the  2nd annual Koksilah Music Festival we attended back in September 2018 in Cowichan Territory this week to our YouTube channel (since we are going to be attending a Snotty Nose Rez Kids concert again soon and are super excited for it). We will also be doing a Summer 2018 and Fall 2018 vlog for March 2019, followed by a Winter 2019 vlog in April 2019 on our YouTube channel.

Remember, we are still trying to get to 250 subscribers on YouTube, to give-away our ZERO-WASTE gift package (we have made it on Instagram, thank you all for following us there). We will be doing an updated video on this package though, given that we lost some of the items in our move. It will be improved though! And we hope you like it and decide to subscribe! That’s all for now, thank you to all our readers and follows for coming on this journey with us, and continuing to stick by me even though I sometimes suck at posting and updating you all here at Indigenousbusyness.blog. We will be posting more original content in 2019, plus sharing great content from others to continue to build our brand and community. Until next time,

Kitakitamatsin (see you later),

Natoyihkii [Holy Whistle, Blackfoot name given to me by my grandmother at birth] (aka Cheyenne, my colonial English name)

Special Holiday Post – MLM

Oki Tansi,

Today, we bring you a special Holiday post! Our special post is about a few friends of mine who have taken a different route to owning a business than the traditional ground start-up. I would like to introduce you readers to 3 strong Indigenous women who have begun their own small businesses through multi-level marketing groups. If you are interested in Arbonne, Empower Cosmetics, or Younique products, read on. [PS – Our Tkaranto travels post mentioned in our last blog will be up later this week!]. You can get great Holiday specials on these lines by contacting the ladies in this post before December 20th!

Arbonne

I met Amy at a conference in 2016 and we stayed in touch since then. Amy Wright is a mother of two and works full-time in banking; she decided to start as an Arbonne consultant as a way to supplement her income, as her family’s needs grew and changed over time.

Amy came over one night, and she demonstrated some of the Arbonne line with me. Arbonne is a health and wellness company with Swiss heritage, they are botanically based and contain no harmful ingredients – the benefits of nature and the safest of science.  I had a great time using some of the tools; my personal experience with the products was very nice, my skin felt clean and refreshed!

The service that Amy provides is in-home trials and skin care and health consultations of all Arbonne products free of charge; another service is a sample bag trial for 3 days so that you can have a personal experience to get a sense of how the products may work for you. During our my one on one, Amy was professional and answered all my questions. Having the tutorial in my own home was also a nice touch. Amy can provide this service to people living in Alberta free of charge and since this business is in 6 countries she would be able to provide her services globally. One of the things that I really liked was that anyone is able to and you can also host a girls-night where Amy can provide pampering to everyone and demonstrate some of the Arbonne products for any of your friends who are interested. There are both men’s and women’s products in the line, and products for children and health.

Here is a few snapshots of the spread she completed and me testing out some of the line:

 

We had a great night and Amy really pampered me by walking me through the use of the line. She also gave me information during our time about the opportunity available. With Arbonne, it is up to you in the end how you want to incorporate Arbonne into your life, either by being a client or an independent consultant. Arbonne provides training through their on-line tools along with a supportive team they will guide you through the process and give you the skills you need and there are many opportunities for personal and professional growth within the organization. Ultimately in the end though, how much time and money you want to invest is your choice.

Through personal one on one’s, group presentations and tradeshows, she has found that the more time she invests into her brand, the greater the results are. This is just like any other business one would start. Having the support of an organization and team behind you can also assist you in growing your individual goals and giving you the flexibility in life.

For more information on Arbonne and to decide if it is a right fit for you, you can contact Amy directly. She can ship across Canada and any one the over 6 countries Arbonne is in, for any of you readers who enjoy the Arbonne line or would like to learn more about it.  It was a great time hanging out with Amy and I would really suggest getting in contact with her. You can get products to you before Christmas, by ordering with Amy on her site by December 18th!

20171209_155237

Empower Cosmetics

Empower is a brand new Canadian company; Alberta based in Calgary and family run, they operate with a vision to empower all people. Through a culture of fun, personal growth, and prosperity, Empower is run with a vision of helping people of the world take control of their lives. Empower is a true relationship marketing opportunity that can help you begin a small business. The primary ingredient in all Empower products is Aloe 51%, along with Natural Ingredients.

Jacklyn North Peigan was born in Piikani, Alberta, and has been residing in Calgary for over 12 years. She has completed various programs including: the Piikani Nation Tourism/Hospitality program (2007), leadership programs at the University of Calgary, a diploma program in Administrative Professional and Bookkeping at Roberston College. She has also attended numerous conferences including the First Nations Youth Entrepreneur Symposium (read our post on this symposium here), the Indigenous Business Builder Series (where she won a certificate of recognition from Community Futures Treaty 7 in 2017). She was also one of five people who was selected to join a group of Indigenous women to sit down with the Parliament Secretary Alaina Lockhart, to discuss Indigenous women in business and the challenges they face when starting a business.

When asked why she decided to begin her small business, Jacklyn said it was “because I wanted to join a company who values their clients. This isn’t the first product line that I’ve purchased with all the good intentions to start taking better care of my skin, but I can tell you this is the first time I’ve seen some great results”. She also said that “these products have helped me because of my sensitive skin, and with the ingredients they use, it is perfect for me or anyone who has been dealing with acne, sensitive skin, scars, fines lines….you name it, it works!”. Jacklyn was also a stay at home mom of 3 children, and was struggling finding meaningful employment. She was also taking care of her mother before her passing in 2013; her passing made Jacklyn want to push herself further out of her comfort zone and become successful in her business to make her mother proud.

With Empower, mentorship is available throughout your journey, with tools and skills to help you establish yourself as a successful business owner. Jacklyn credits her own development to her mentor, Deb Bateman, who is also the co-founder of Empower. Deb continues to provide coaching and mentorship to Jacklyn as she grows her small business. With most multi-level marketing groups, some form of mentorship and skill development is usually available.

Jacklyn faced many challenges trying to get her business off the ground, including gaining support from friends and family; this was especially hard when finances were tight and she was unsure if she would be able to make it in this business. Sometimes it was even difficult to afford tables at events (which is why access is so important for Indigenous entrepreneurs). Learning to use social media and to get out in front of people and speak, were also hard challenges that Jacklyn had to overcome. However, the biggest challenge was likely losing a parent as she wasn’t sure how to cope at that time; she was left depressed and unsure of life, having to rebuild herself back up. Supporting entrepreneurs is so important, especially as you never know what challenges they might be going through in their personal lives. This is especially important when they are from our own communities, or are our relatives. Many of us also have friends who are trying to operate small businesses, so get out there and support them!

Today, Jacklyn has gone back to university, and continues to run her small business selling Empower products. She enjoys making her own hours and wants to change the world while making a difference in people’s lives. After a collection of events, lessons and experiences that took place in Jacklyn’s life, entrepreneurship brought her into finding who she was really meant to be. She wants entrepreneurs to “be all that you can be and even though you may get a NO, just know there is always a YES with someone else”. She also cautions that what you do in the public eye and on social media can affect your business; Jacklyn says to ask questions and learn from other vendors at events. Taking advantage of events around your city can also help to get your name out there and spread awareness for your business. And lastly, having a great support system and accountant never hurts either. You can find Jackyln on Facebook here.

empower

Younique

Timara Pace is a Blackfoot woman from the community where I grew up, the Kainai Blood Reserve. Timara is currently looking to get back in to school in 2018 to finish upgrading at Red Crow College – in the meantime, Timara decided to start a small business, which has grown fast. Given the fast growth of her business and progress seen, Timara would like to continue doing this business in the future. Timara currently sells Younique products online at Youniqueproducts.com/PaceTimara, starting only in September but seeing great benefits to owning her own business so far.

It all started when Timara was just scrolling through social media, and came across a post – a friend that she went to school with was advertising an opportunity to make money from home. As extra income is always nice, especially as a young mother, she decided to take the opportunity. Timara wasn’t quite ready to go back to school, and wanted the freedom to be a stay at home mom a little longer, to enjoy spending as much time with her daughter while she is still a baby.

While Timara has been seeing successes with her small business in this short period, when Indigenous Busy-ness asked her if there are challenges she’s faced in operating her business, she responded “That’s a good question because it’s something in this business that is rarely talked about or in any business, is that we all go tend to go through something thing in our life time that makes us want to quit or feel the need to give up! But you just have to remind yourself that you are not alone and someone out there has gone through the same thing, if not worse, and you can get through this”. Timara credits her amazing teammates for her success, as they have helped each other every step of the way. She doesn’t think she would have gotten far in running her small business if not without the support ofher team; Timara believes that it’s true what they say about team work – “team work makes the dream work”. Multi-level marketing operations are often able to provide this network when joining a team.

Timara has already seen bonus pays, and advances in her team standing in this short period; with the support of her network, she has been able to successfully sell these products and turn a profit. When asked about the advice she would like to give to other entrepreneurs or women who are considering a similar operation, Timara said – “The biggest advice I can give from one entrepreneur to another is you have to learn to not care what other people think! It will save you a lot of time and heartache if you just learn to ignore those negative Nancy’s also don’t be afraid to risks and challenge yourself each day – go out and hand out flyers or business cards, make a fun video or poster, anything to get your name and business out there!”. Business is all about taking risks and making relationships; it’s also important that we stay true to ourselves and not allow the No’s to knock us down. Doing what it takes to make an impact is often the difference between failure and success.

Timara’s last piece of advice to entrepreneurs is to never give up, even if you don’t make sales right away or go through a “dry period” with no sales. She notes that most businesses are not successful until after the first year of operations, and it takes time to build a brand. She believes that by not giving up easily, people will notice and want to purchase your products, especially since you’ve shown you believe in them yourself.

She is also set up at the Moses Lake Plaza Craft Fair in Cardston, Alberta until December 23rd for anyone wanting to do some Holiday shopping – get out there and support the community members of the Kainai Blood Reserve. I love to see that people are taking the initiative in my home community to support entrepreneurs from our own backyards. You can also get discounted shipping until December 20th from her website (see link above):

Younique.PNG

In this post, I have shared 3 stories of 3 Indigenous women running their own businesses through a multi-level marketing operation. During my research on the companies these ladies support, there was good and bad press and sometimes multi-level marketing can seem like ‘pyramid schemes’; however, these companies do not press aggressive sales tactics on people, and discourage it within their organizations. Always reach out to an ethical sales person who seems to have your best interests in mind.

I know with the ladies above, they will never pressure you into any products you don’t want or need, but will work with you to find one you love. If you use any of the lines mentioned above, reach out to these ladies to purchase products and support another Indigenous woman in her endeavour to better her family’s future. If you are also interested in learning more about starting your own business through these lines, contact them, and they’d be happy to walk you through the process of joining their teams or starting your own. This is just one-way people can do business, but we note that these types of companies have also helped many women of all races see personal freedoms and benefits for generations.

T7 FNYES & YES National – Entrepreneurial conferences for Indigenous youth!

Oki, tansi dear readers,

It sure has been a minute since my last post, hasn’t it? I’ve been keeping busy, but felt I’ve been neglecting this part of my life – so I am going to change that and get back into it! I have been keeping busy networking however, and hope to bring you some new posts soon!

Today I bring you a quick post on two great conferences directed at Indigenous youth interested in entrepreneurship here in Alberta and Canada . I have had the great fortune to be a delegate at both of these conferences and want to encourage other Indigenous youth who are interested in entrepreneurship to keep an eye out for sign up information. In fact, the deadline for the first conference I’ll talk about in this post is at the end of July here in Treaty 7 – read on to find out about my experience last year and for sign up information/links. Also included in this post is information on a National conference for Indigenous youth interested in entrepreneurship that I also attended last year and in 2014…and had a great time at!

Treaty 7 First Nations Youth Entrepreneur Symposium 

Last summer, I was looking for things to keep me occupied after graduation, that would also contribute to my growth as a woman interested in the business world. I stumbled across the Treaty 7 First Nations Youth Entrepreneur Symposium on social media. I decided to sign up, wait and see what happens, not really knowing what I was signing up for. A really great thing about the conference I would mention too – you don’t need to be a member of any Treaty 7 bands (Bearspaw, Bloods/Kainai, Chiniki, Piikani, Siksika, Tsuu T’ina, or Wesley), you just need to meet the age requirements (ages 18-35 accepted) and be an Indigenous youth residing in the Treaty 7 area (basically anywhere south of Banff, Alberta – in beautiful Blackfoot Territory). The sign-up process took probably less than an hour, maybe even less than a half-hour. The conference will take place from August 20-25, 2017 this year and the deadline to sign up is fast approaching – applications close on July 31, 2017. You can find the application by following this link to their Facebook page. Just click on the SIGN UP button.

After I applied, a few weeks later, I was making arrangements to make my way out to the Stoney Nakoda Resort on the Stoney Nakoda Nation (home to the Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley people), to take part in this week-long conference with 20 or so other youth from around the Treaty 7 area. The organizers (Community Futures Treaty 7) are great in that they provide this pick-up service; pick-up spots are available along the way from Southern Alberta in Cardston, all the way to Calgary, to get you out to Stoney Nakoda in Kananaskis country. The transportation is also free of charge and included in your delegation. You can also choose to make your own way out to the resort if you so wish. Here’s a picture of the resort I found online – it’s a beautiful place, too bad I didn’t snap a pic (picture credit: www.hotel-r.net):

Once you arrive at the resort, you will have some downtime, and you will also meet the rest of the delegates. Accommodations are shared, but included in your delegation as well. You will be placed into groups with your peers to work on projects throughout the week that will ultimately give you the confidence to present a business plan in a real-live “Dragon’s Den” type presentation at the end. The judges are all business professionals with years of experience, and they will give you great feedback once your presentation is done. It was sure nerve-wracking, and there were times during the week we struggled – but in the end, all of the groups were prepared and did a great job! Many of us were completely out of our comfort zones, but being with your peers from across Treaty 7 provides you with some comfort. The friendships you will make throughout the week will always be there, especially since the other youth are all from the same area you are from. That is what I really enjoyed about the program – connecting with other Indigenous youth from the place I call home that are inspired and interested in bettering our respective communities through entrepreneurship.

The workshops throughout the week will give you the skills required for the presentation at the end of the week, but will also provide guidance when creating your group’s business plan. These are skills that you can then carry with you for the rest of your life, applying them to your future business ideas to make them come to life. You are also provided with opportunities to refine your leadership skills; last year the N.A.P.I. (Native Ambassador Post-secondary Initiative) program joined us and provided us with a day-and-a-half-long workshop in personal leadership. We also heard from past delegates who were now running their own businesses. It was really inspiring to hear about what the past delegates are up to, and how the workshops/sessions we were going through had helped them in their successes.

The week wasn’t only about work though! We also had a ton of fun, by partaking in white-water rafting, playing a friendly game of “Fear Factor” in the resort’s pool (where I ate a few crickets :P), and of course by hearing from a number of great speakers from the business world. You are also fed really well the whole time you are there, and the Stoney Nakoda resort is a beautiful facility. Here are a few pictures from the week – I was having so much fun though, I didn’t have a chance to take many! These pictures are from part of the “Fear Factor” games held, our NAPI session on personal leadership and just before our white-water rafting trip :

 

14051670_10210947224737501_4249624944325235875_n

I strongly encourage anyone who is wanting to learn more about the world of entrepreneurship who fits the requirements for the conference to sign up. The conference is in it’s 19th year this year, and many of the youth who have attended in the past now own there own business – Melrene Eagle Speaker of Native Diva Creations (who we had a chance to sit down with) was a past delegate and business is booming for her! She just finished another great year at the Calgary Stampede. The link for the Facebook page of the conference can be found here; follow it to find the sign-up link on the Facebook page! And remember – deadline is July 31st! All delegates receive a stipend upon completion as well, and a certificate for successful completion of the program – you can then use that stipend to invest in your business!

Copy of Screenshot_20170723-022343

You can also find more information about Community Futures Treaty 7 here – they do many other entrepreneurship centered events throughout the year here in Calgary and Southern Alberta! Follow them on Facebook to stay tuned for future events, many of which are low-cost or free to the public, and always focused upon Indigenous entrepreneurship.

YES National – Young Entrepreneurs Symposium

The next conference I want to share with you readers is the National Young Entrepreneurship Symposium (YES) (find Facebook page by following link), open to Indigenous Youth across Kanata (Canada) who are 19-30 years of age. The conference is held in a different city each year by the New Relationship Trust, a B.C. organization, and brings together Indigenous youth interested in entrepreneurship from all over Turtle Island/Kanata. Last year, the conference was held in Tkaronto (Toronto), Ontario and I was lucky enough to be selected to attend; this was my second time attending the conference, which was held in Calgary, Alberta in 2014 the first time I attended. Here’s a picture I took of my moccasins in the Big Smoke, off the balcony of my hotel in Downtown and me participating in the largest group selfie on the first day of YES 2016 :P:

 

This conference is all about energy! You will compete with your team of 8-10 youth from various First Nations/settlements/villages around Kanata, and you will definitely be pushed out of your comfort zone through out the 4 days you are at the conference. Your team will compete for 3 cash prizes that can be used to further your entrepreneurial projects. The competitions change every year, which I think is the best part of this conference – it keeps on changing, therefore every year you go, you can expect to be exposed to something new. Here’s what I am talking about when I say energy – team spirit is especially important, and you will be awarded points on just how well your team does not only in competitions, but also in team spirit/team effort. Here we are, dancing away for points in 2016 (lol – it was actually a video initially), our daily team look in 2014 and our team photo for social media that we created in 2014 (go Dandy Lions!):

 

 

In addition to the competitions throughout the week, delegates also learn from various speakers – some of who are very well-known in the Indigenous community. The speakers include film actors, TV actors, activists, and others who are trail blazing for our communities, including past YES delegates. The speakers that I have had the pleasure of hearing from during the 2 times I have attended this conference have always inspired me to continue on my path while helping others, as they all have. Here’s a picture of me and my good friend with some of the cast from Blackstone (an Indigenous drama that aired on APTN) in 2014 as well as my team from 2014 looking snazzy for the banquet:

10802039_10152896794059228_1136959278726068962_n10422202_10152896794654228_1314644151416331126_n

I think the best part of YES National is learning about the experiences of other Indigenous Youth from across Kanata, however. The friendships I have made at YES I know will last a lifetime and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have met some of these amazing youth, who are doing great things in their communities and for the Indigenous community at large. I really enjoyed learning more about the nuances between our cultures, as well as the similarities. The best part of YES is the connections you will make, and knowing that you have people who care about you from all four directions.

Many of the youth will attend YES over and over again, and the best part of attending in 2016 was being placed on the same team again as one of my team members from 2014! Re-connecting with other youth I met in 2014 was also a highlight, and I am so thankful for our paths having crossed again. I really hope that I will be able to attend this year’s conference as well, so fingers crossed! I am so very thankful for the opportunity however to be a 2x delegate, and hope that I can attend at least a few more times before I turn 30! Here are some shots from the week and from the banquet dinner that occurs on the last night when the winners are crowned:

 

There are several ways that you can be a delegate for YES – you can ask your Band to sponsor you, find a sponsor other than your band (such as an organization you are known to), or pay the delegation fees yourself (includes hotel, flight, meals and registration costs). While the cost can be pricey, it is so very worth the days you will spend participating in the conference; you will have many experiences throughout the week that you just can’t put a price on. There are also a number of wait-list spots for the conference, by which if a sponsorship becomes available, it will be given to those who are on the wait-list. However, delegates are encouraged to find their own sponsorship prior to attempting the wait-list. For more information you can find contact information for the conference here. You can also find the Facebook page for YES here.

This year’s conference will be held in November from the 27th to the 30th in the beautiful unceded Coast Salish Territory now known as Vancouver, British Columbia. If you are interested in sponsoring a deserving youth to go to the conference, but maybe not have an individual in mind, please follow this link to find out more information on sponsorship opportunities – please know that it will be greatly appreciated by the youth who will benefit from your sponsorship. Cost of sponsorship depends on province of travel origination and ranges from $1500 – $2500, but this includes:

  • Sponsorship covers Travel Accomodations, Meals and Registration fee for one delegate
  • Logo placement on YES 2016 Sponsor signage at event
  • Logo included in YES 2016 program
  • Opportunity to insert promotional material in delegate kits
  • Website sponsor recognition

YES is forever indebted to the sponsors, and the youth who have attended YES always speak of it as a life-changing experience. I know for me, it has had that effect, and I encourage anyone who is looking for a way to give back to Indigenous youth to consider providing sponsorships for this unique gathering of bright, Indigenous minds. I truly believe that entrepreneurship is a way for our communities to begin to heal, and to reach sovereignty, and gatherings like this reaffirm that position. The talented youth I have met at these conferences also reaffirm that, and provide the need/demand for conferences like this. I am excited to see what this year will bring, and I am hopeful that I will be in attendance!

Thank you for reading my long over-due post. If you are interested in the above conferences, take a chance and sign up! You never know who you will meet, or what you will learn!

Again, thank you readers for sticking around. Look out for my next post – I had the great fortune of being able to travel to Tkaranto a few times after YES 2016, and I definitely made the most out of it! I visited a few Indigenous owned businesses I was recommended, and I wasn’t disappointed. My next blog post will talk about my adventures in the Big Smoke and the wonderfully authentic Indigenous businesses I visited there. Until next time – stay beautiful readers, and thank you for your never wavering support of this blog! Even when I don’t keep up with it! I’ll leave you with a little snapshot of some of these bannock/berry treats I got to eat there at the new restaurant in Tkaranto known as NishDish. Kitakitamaatsin (Until we meet again):

Snapchat-1815793881

Native Diva Creations and the Authentically Indigenous Craft Show

Oki, tansi readers,

It’s good to be back and blogging! I had the opportunity to attend a few great conferences these past few months, so I’m looking forward to bringing you a re-cap on some great entrepreneurial and business conferences you should keep an eye out for in 2017! However, today I bring you a blog post on a friend I met at one of these conferences, and the Indigenous craft show she runs with her sister. This craft show returns to Calgary for the next two weekends, and you don’t want to miss out!

Autumn Eagle Speaker and Melrene Saloy-Eagle Speaker are sisters who come from the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta. Both have an entrepreneurial spirit, and both enjoy giving back to the community using the skills that they have. Autumn had event planning skills and Melrene had a business mind (being the owner of Native Diva Creations), so the two worked together to create a new project. The project became the Authentically Indigenous Craft Show; this year will mark the second one that the sisters are hosting. The Authentically Indigenous Craft Show will be happening this weekend in Calgary on December 10th, from 10 am to 5 pm at the Kerby Centre Gymnasium in Downtown Calgary. Admission is $2 for adults, and free for children. There is also free parking adjacent to the building!

There will be many other Indigenous artisans and businesses showcased, and it’s a great opportunity to get any last minute Christmas or holiday gifts. I know I will be picking up a few last minute things (as I made the decision not to purchase from large corporations this Christmas and instead support only local small business). If you can’t make it this weekend, the craft show will be back the following Saturday, in the same place, with the same price for admissions, but with a few new vendors. You can check out the Facebook page here for the list of vendors and more information.

Melrene will not only be hosting the other Indigenous vendors from Calgary and surrounding areas, but she will also be set up as a vendor with Native Diva Creations. Native Diva Creations is Melrene’s brain child, and it is a small business that has had a huge impact in her market. After only 2 years, Melrene is beading full-time, and has been nominated for awards, been included in fashion shows, and even had pieces worn by attendees at the Golden Globe awards. Her unique style of traditionally inspired street-wear jewelry combines traditional beadwork with a wearable style of jewelry that include modern touches anyone can wear.

Native Diva Creations wants anyone to be able to wear their pieces, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous; by combining traditional beadwork with modern jewelry trends, Native Diva Creations opens up an aspect of our culture that has been around for millenium to a new audience. It is a style that can be dressed up or dressed down, and they are pieces that are authentically made by an Indigenous woman; her work is definitely better than the stuff you can buy in “trendy” fashion stores, likely made in a factory in a far away country. Instead of keeping her pieces only in the traditional style, Melrene believes that making more contemporary pieces allows her to stop the type-cast of tourist garb and start putting native fashions and jewelry into the mainstream. Melrene’s styles are often uniquely made, and if a style is duplicated, different colors are used – you can always be sure that your fashions from Melrene weren’t mass manufactured, and that a lot of care went into the final piece you’ll wear. Here are the pieces I have from her:

img_20161209_141543969_hdr-1

Since establishing her business, Melrene has had opportunities to speak on panels to other entrepreneurs, was nominated anonymously for a Calgary Chamber of Commerce award this year, went to Santa Fe to be included in a fashion show (she was also the first Canadian to be included in this show, and this market fit her niche well), and that is just some of what she has done this year! Native Diva Creations has really been taking off, and Melrene is often so busy from custom orders and trying to complete work to sell at craft shows, she sometimes has to turn people away. Melrene’s hardwork in making cold calls, knocking on doors and being told no is paying off, but she also attributes much of her success back to her community and the help that she has received. Her biggest drivers in her life are her two children; they have been her main inspiration to keep going and to succeed in her business goals.

After attending the Treaty 7 Young Entrepreneur Symposium, and then the Young Entrepreneur Symposium in 2014 (National Conference), Melrene started to get a sense of what she wanted to do (these are 2 great conferences I also recently attended, and will have a re-cap on). She had support from her family to quit her job in retail, and once she jumped in, Melrene realized she had more skills in business than she had initially thought, thanks to the retail industry. At first, many people thought what Native Diva Creations was all about was just a hobby; however, Melrene’s dedication to her business and her craft payed off because she stuck to it and believed in herself. To this day, the homework and research continues, as the market that Melrene is in is always changing. In order to stay ahead, Melrene seeks out information that is relevant to her business almost daily, and always tries to better understand her market. Even though Melrene didn’t win the Chamber of Commerce award this year, it did set her up with a whole new network she is looking forward to leveraging and utilizing their free training courses, so that she can better her business and pay it forward to other Indigenous entrepreneurs seeking guidance!

That is another great thing about Native Diva Creations owner – she is always looking for ways to give back as she becomes more successful. She has future goals to help even more entrepreneurs get their work out there through craft shows, as well as other projects she is still figuring out the details for. For now, Native Diva Creations is enjoying her successes to this date, and is looking at ways she can expand her business, but still ensure quality control in her pieces. You can check out her website here for her pieces that are in stock, and you can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

native-diva-creations

Native Diva Creations would like for all women entrepreneurs to believe in yourself and don’t stop trying to achieve your goals; remember to acknowledge your accomplishments and be proud of how far you have come with your business goals, no matter how small they may seem. Nurturing relationships and not being afraid to take risks is also important; remember that competition isn’t the only way to do business. Indigenous Busy-ness also believes that this advice holds true for all entrepreneurs.

 

 

Calgary Aboriginal Youth Filmmakers go to Toronto for imagineNATIVE Film Festival!

Oki, Tansi!

The other night, I attended a screening for a new short film here in Calgary – that short film was Skateboarding Pants. This animation was created by 7-year-old Colton Willier (Cree/Blackfoot) and his friend Ethan Aspeslet-Asels (Dene Tha) with the help of their moms, Amy and Thalia. This short animation utilizes cut-outs and original music created by the group. The boys were successful in their application for the 17th annual imagineNATIVE Film Festival happening in Toronto, ON from October 19-23 this year; they will also be the youngest filmmakers in attendance for this event. What an exciting opportunity for two of our Calgary Aboriginal youth!

img_20161015_170253

The boys will have the opportunity to showcase their film to people from across Canada and also be exposed to other artists creating digital and audio works during the festival. imagineNATIVE Film Festival is “the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content from around the world” and is “committed to creating a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples and cultures through the presentation of contemporary Indigenous-made media art (film, video, audio and digital media)”. To learn more about the festival and charity, or to purchase tickets, check out their website here; for more information on the artists attending this year and the events break down, see this link to their catalog.

Colton is a multi-artist who not only creates film, but also has a passion for drawing. His mother is also an artist and Colton has been surrounded by Native contemporary and traditional art since he was young; his mother runs an art gallery in Calgary with her mother and cousin, called Moonstone Creation. It is located in a quaint little house on a corner in Inglewood. Moonstone Creation also supports other Aboriginal artists through showcasing their items and also purchasing items from these artists for the gallery. Colton and Ethan were busy fundraising through selling leather bracelets at $2.00 each that Colton made; they still have a few left if you are interested! You can contact Amy at amy@moonstonecreation.ca or visit Moonstone Creation’s Facebook page here to see some of the beautiful items Amy has created for the boys to wear during the festival. You can also see Moonstone’s website here. Look out for a blog post on Moonstone Creation in the near future too, my dear readers.

Art has been an important part of Aboriginal business for many  decades and with the new technology available to us, we are expanding in our creations, getting our voice out there, re-claiming our identity, and telling our own stories through creating our own media. Organizations like imagineNATIVE also support this re-telling of our stories. Indigenous Busy-ness is looking forward to a Skateboarding Pants sequel and the other work that this duo will create as they grow as artists! Supporting our Aboriginal youth is important to creating healthy, resilient communities and this a great opportunity for these young artists to build their community of supports. The art world can be tough to enter, but the work that imagineNATIVE does is actively breaking down these barriers for many Indigenous artists, nationally and internationally, while also helping to break down old stereo-types by creating understanding between cultures through showcasing our experiences as Indigenous peoples as told by us. There is a hashtag that you can utilize – #in17 – to follow updates on the film festival on both Facebook and Twitter!

Indigenous Busy-ness wishes the best of luck to the boys during the festival and in all of their future endeavours. To catch a re-cap of some Q & A with the young filmmakers, check out this accompanying vlog on the Indigenous Busy-ness YouTube channel. Thank you to the boys and their mothers for welcoming Indigenous Busy-ness to the screening! It is really great to see Aboriginal youth creating their own paths and putting themselves out there! Just goes to show you that the entrepreneur spirit comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, and industries!

Cree8 Calgary

If you’ve ever been to a community event in Calgary, you’re likely to have seen Chantal Chagnon drumming and singing with the Sisters from Another Mother, working as a volunteer, or in the crowd. Chantal is the lady with the pink hair, something that has become her trademark during her journey and it makes her so noticeable in crowds. She is a tireless advocate for many issues affecting people in the Calgary community and works tirelessly for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members alike. She has been busy collaborating with the Union choir, opening up the new CKUA radio station in Calgary, working with the Arusha Centre, and attending other events including the opening of Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin’s film, “We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice”, at the Calgary Film Festival this past week.

img_20160928_174906168

 

Chantal is also the owner of Cree8 Calgary, a cultural endeavour of Chantal’s that “aims to create bridges between people, culture and within yourself”. Cree8 “offers performances, workshops and presentations to share traditional aboriginal culture, crafts and teachings” within Calgary. Chantal and her mother Cheryle have even brought these services to Edmonton, and other areas within Alberta. Currently, the workshops that Chantal offers are Drum and Stick Making, Métis Fingerweaving, Dreamcatcher and Rattle workshops. She also offers private events (including corporate events), public speaking within schools and for youth groups, and is always willing to offer her services for anyone needing a beautiful voice to lift up the spirits of the crowd.

The inspiration for Cree8’s name is derived from Chantal and Cheryle’s Cree heritage, as well as the fact that both Chantal and her mother are “creative natives” that enjoy creating traditional crafts with traditional materials and teachings. The 8 in the name also has special meaning, as it represents the Métis infinity symbol presented on their flags; the infinity symbol has represented the joining of two cultures for the Métis peoples (as well as the existence of a culture forever) and is very fitting for the work that Chantal and her mother do. You can find more information on the Métis flag here.

In 2015, Chantal hosted the 8th Fire Gathering in Calgary, that was “three days of inspiring speakers, powerful performances, informative sessions, interactive workshops, and engaging activities”. Information was shared over the 3 days on information on “Idle No More, Human Rights Issues, Workers & Union Rights, Aboriginal Treaty Rights, Indigenous Sovereignty and Canadian Sovereignty, the Environment, Community Activism, Progressive Politics, and the future of Canada”. She will again be organizing the event, but this time will bring the gathering to Eastern Canada to the city of Ottawa, Ontario. To follow this gathering and keep up with all of the information on dates, check out the Facebook page here. This was a dynamic experience for Chantal, having planned the event, secured speakers, volunteers and space. Her favourite part was seeing the sharing of prayer in 8 different Indigenous languages from across Canada. Chantal is looking forward to again sharing this experience with others.

Attending Chantal’s July drum workshop, I could see Chantal’s passion for sharing culture in action.  During the workshop, we learned from one another and shared many stories; it was such a nice experience to be in a room full of people from all backgrounds wanting to learn more about Indigenous culture and customs. It was also refreshing to see Chantal in action, as I have previously seen the drums she and her mother created but hadn’t seen the process of creating one. It set the stage for me to uncover more of her story, as I have known Chantal for years, but after sitting down and picking her brain about her business, being an Aboriginal woman in her field, and the adversity she has faced, I feel that I know her so much better. Here are some more photos from the workshop:

Being in the activist community for years, Chantal has worked with a variety of organizations, corporations, and other activists on a number of projects. Oftentimes, Chantal gives her time for free. When there are events in Calgary, Chantal is often doing media relations, offering her voice and presence at events, or finding other ways to be of assistance. Chantal never expects money nor does she expect any special treatment in return for her service. This speaks to her integrity, as Chantal is truly doing it for the cause and not for any recognition or gratitude. Sadly, Chantal has also had to work alongside with those that seek only payment or acknowledgment during events. Walking your talk is so important, especially in business, but it also important to do so in your everyday life. Saying that you believe in a cause and giving your time and effort without expecting payment or gratitude is one way that one can show integrity.

Chantal believes staying true to yourself is probably the most important thing you can do as a woman in business. Being unafraid to speak out against injustice is also very important; unfortunately, this may come in the form of defending yourself and your work against discrimination or prejudice. The issue of the value of work in our society done by women can often hinder us when we attempt to branch out into business and Chantal has felt this misogyny from people before, even in her own communities. Chantal hopes to see a day when the same work that a woman does is not seen as less to comparable work done by a man, whatever the work may be.

Uplifting the youth is one way Chantal sees this happening; she believes that our youth are the future and they can start to fix the mistakes we have made, given the right teachings. This belief is reflected in her volunteer work with organizations that work with at-risk youth and her work at the K-12 level students; Chantal offers her workshops, as well as music therapy and speaking engagements for youth that get them talking about culture and identity. With Cree8, she was also able to recently donate 120 rattles to Alberta Foster Care Adoption for children and caregivers to utilize. Chantal’s compassion is evident in the types of events and organizations she supports; her tireless advocacy for human rights is something we can all learn from and try to emulate in advancing our society.

Check out Cree8’s Facebook page  to sign up for upcoming drum, dreamcatcher, fingerweaving and rattle workshops in October. Also, be sure to attend the 12th Annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil if you are in the Calgary Area on October 4th! Chantal will be leading the march, singing and speaking. You can find full information on the day’s events here. Indigenous Busy-ness wishes Chantal success with her upcoming workshops, an artist’s residency she landed for November in Lac La Biche, the 8th fire gathering in Ottawa, and all the other events she will assist with. Look out for an update later next year on Cree8!

DSCF9954

 

Updates, Round 2

Oki, tansi my dear readers,

It’s been a while since my last post, wow. Trying to find work sure can take up a lot of your time. Though, within the month I have been fortunate enough to attend a drum making workshop and also help with my parent’s house raising and received some updates from them on their business. I was also selected to attend the 18th annual Treaty 7 Youth Entrepreneur Symposium that took place from August 21-26. Quite exciting stuff! Here is a link to their Facebook page if anyone is interested in keeping them on your radar, so that you can apply next year!

I will have the drum making workshop post and updates on Thunderbird farms coming up soon – I’ve also decided to add short YouTube vlogs for each business that I visit, so look out for those on my channel, which you can find here! I will have one for both the drum making workshop and for Thunderbird farms! I’ll also have a recap on my experience at the T7YES coming your way as well. By attending this symposium, I was able to meet many more like-minded individuals and entrepreneurs my age.

I’ve said in previous posts that I would try to post more frequently, but that has been futile so far. Given that, I hope that you dear readers will follow my site, or subscribe on YouTube to my channel, so that you can keep updated on when I post! The vlogs will act as a heads-up whenever there is a new post, and you can watch a video to get an idea of the contents of each blog post.

I look forward to connecting with you again soon, with the next blog post centering around the drum making workshop I attended at the end of July and Chantal Chagnon’s business, Cree8. Soon after that I will follow with an update on my parent’s business endeavours and my experience at the symposium. Stay tuned! And don’t forget to subscribe and set notifications for the videos, if you so choose! Here are a few photos from the drum making workshop, to keep you satisfied:

Kitakitamaatsin (until we meet again)

The Tastes and Sights of Vancouver

Oki, Tansi, my dear readers:

As you know, I recently had the good fortune to spend a few days in Vancouver and what a trip it was! In addition to enjoying the ocean, the seas, and that fresh salt-air, I was also lucky enough to meet some locals, enjoy some great Canadian Indigenous food at Salmon n’ Bannock, and learn more about the history of the city, particularly about the Eastside. This is a bit of a longer post – but I think you will enjoy it!

The highlight of my trip was getting the opportunity to sit down with one of the owners of Salmon n’ Bannock – a one of a kind restaurant in the city, located on West Broadway, serving traditional Indigenous cuisine in the heart of Vancouver. Salmon n’ Bannock takes traditional Indigenous ingredients from across Canada, and incorporates them into lovely dishes with a modern palate. Before enjoying a HUGE buffalo meat “Indian Taco” (a flat taco like dish on baked bannock with all of the taco fixings) and ending it off with a (shared :P) huckleberry pie and a bannock bread pudding, I tried a eulachon. It was prepared traditionally up in the far North – this small little fish is smoked for 14 hours, and meant to be eaten whole: bones, head and everything! If anyone knows me, you know I’m only really a fan of salmon (I grew up on the prairies, give me a break! :P) but this was so good I would definitely try again! No wonder they call it a delicacy! I think my dad and boyfriend were surprised I actually tried it and enjoyed it! Here’s the meal I had, along with those eulachons, some candied salmon (which was to die for and amazing, I can’t say better things about it!) and the desserts we ordered to share (minus a bite :P). By the way, all of Salmon n’ Bannock’s bannock is baked, not fried, for you health conscious readers wondering:

Sitting down with Inez, 51% owner of Salmon n’ Bannock, she told me a little background about her life and shared with me that she was adopted out of her culture at a young age (unfortunately, such stories can be common in FNMI communities, as this adopting out was once government policy and is still happening today. Here is a good article you can read on that topic, if you are interested). Through opening her business, Inez is not only breaking down cultural barriers between Indigenous and mainstream culture while blazing paths and creating opportunities for other First Nations, Métis and Inuit [FNMI] folks (her staff is all FNMI, and she even had a Blackfoot woman like me working there, from the same tribe!), but Inez has also been revisiting her roots and reconnecting to her culture through this endeavour. This aspect is so important and very respectable especially given that she was taken away from her culture and never fully got the chance to experience it growing up. However, as Inez shows us, it is never too late to reconnect and begin to decolonize through traditional resistance and practicing our cultural ways.

8678182441_a3358a4d7a_zPicture source link

Not only has she created an opportunity for herself to get more in touch with her roots, she has also created opportunities for other Indigenous folks to reconnect to our food culture, as well as an opportunity for cross-cultural learning for non-Indigenous folks. Not to mention, she is giving our FNMI people within the culinary world an outlet and creating economical bases in many First Nations communities through her collaborative approach to her menu items. As someone who enjoys seeking out the traditional cuisine of visited countries, Inez was shocked that there was not such a place in one of the most bustling Canadian cities that catered towards an Indigenous menu for the original inhabitants of Turtle Island; I am so glad that her and her business partner took it upon themselves to share the diverse cuisine of our FNMI communities with the world –  I’m sure her many business connections that help build the menus are as well!

I really enjoyed the meal, seeing the friendly FNMI staff and people of all backgrounds and ethnicities enjoying our traditional meals, and of course, Inez’s dedication to her customers. I am very thankful for her sitting down with me and speaking to me; even though she is busy trying to manage a restaurant on the days that she is there and cater to other customers (either her or her business partner are there in body to give customers a more personalized experience, sometimes both), she still took the time to sit with me and give me her full attention, which was very refreshing. I gifted her with a small wreath of sweetgrass from my traditional territory to thank her for speaking with me (which is an important aspect when asking for favours in many FNMI communities).

As a woman who has studied business, it’s always great to see women in business, and even more so, due to my heritage, FNMI women in business. The structure of their business, a 51% ownership share for Inez and 49% for her non-Indigenous business partner Remi, is one way that this duo also shows us how we can build bridges between cultures while also promoting FNMI business ownership. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this business – Inez hopes for a second location, bigger space, and more customers, but is also looking forward to all things the Creator has in store. If you are in the area, make sure to book your reservation today! You won’t regret it – I only regret not going sooner when I’ve had the chance! Great prices, great food, and an overall great atmosphere! Here’s some photos of the meal my parent’s ordered – traditional game meat with all the fixings (looked soo good):

In addition to hanging around West Broadway, I also found myself in the East Van area a lot that weekend. I didn’t really expect to end up in East Vancouver, but maybe things happen for a reason. This area has gotten a bad rap in the public space for many reasons, some related to those reasons that are stealing some of our brothers and sisters from us. However, aside from the less than perfect reputation this side of town has, it has also been the site of many grassroots activism and you can really see the spirit of the neighbourhood in how people look out for each other there.

In the Eastside, I got the opportunity to attend a gathering happening at Shop Wrong with a bunch of up and coming FNMI youth artists blazing paths in their respective fields (drama, film, music) and even got to purchase a cool piece of art there as well that prompted me to learn more about the area. While they are not Aboriginal owned, they do participate in the East Van community very heavily, and also support young budding FNMI artists by hosting free workshops and putting their art on display in their shop for free, in addition to the many other services they provide to the community through their other endeavours. I didn’t even know such a place existed! Here is a blog post that speaks more to that and you can also visit their Facebook page here. After that night, a relative also brought us to visit the memorial for our Missing and Murdered Indigenous (and non-Indigenous!) Women and Men down by the docks (which is an issue I actively speak out against, due to the closeness that it hits home for me from having friends/family who have lost their loved ones due to senseless, colonial, and gendered violence or been subject to such violence themselves). We gave a moment of silence for those that we have lost, and I am thankful to my boyfriend’s cousin for bringing us to see it, as I was unaware there was such a marker. Although this side of town has gotten a bad rap, the stories and the history within that side of the city, in my opinion, show our true humanity – the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and most importantly, the resiliency of the human spirit:

Now I am back in Calgary, and graduation has come and gone. I’m working on getting my own business established and keeping up the blog with more frequent posts; I’ve been seeking out Aboriginal businesses here in the city this past month along my travels and actually, once you start seeking things out, isn’t it funny how many opportunities come about? It’s been a good month, and I met a lot of artists in the Calgary community, as I finally put myself out there and submitted a piece in an art show. I’m really excited to show you dear readers just how diverse the Aboriginal business world really is! Look out for my next post on FNMI art in Calgary; I’ll be showcasing a few artists that have been in the art business for various years, working with mediums such as acrylics, oils, and more traditional materials/handmade crafts like hides and other useful tools made from animal parts, as per tradition.

Also – please excuse my interchanging with Aboriginal, Indigenous, and FNMI – sometimes I don’t like to use the term Aboriginal as it a colonial, government term so I sometimes use Indigenous in it’s place, or FNMI to be a little clearer of which Indigenous groups I am talking about, as the Indigenous world is very diverse and every country has Indigenous peoples! I still use the term Aboriginal in my posts, as usually people will search Aboriginal business instead of FNMI business or Indigenous business, when searching for FNMI businesses. Thank you for understanding, and sorry if it annoyed anyone. There is a method to my craziness! I’ll leave you now with a picture of my first painting I’ve ever entered into an art show (that wasn’t at my high school lol) – it address business success and structures that have been built upon colonialism; how fitting for my blog though and our next post about art :P! (Ps – it’s for sale, inquire if interested!):

image000000_2

Kitakitamaatsin (until we meet again),

Cheyenne

 

Thunderbird Farms and Growing Pain

Oki, Tansi,

I know, I know! It’s been another 20 days, but I am finally a little more focused and ready to get on with the new chapter of my life now that graduation ceremonies are all done (I attended 3 in total for myself! what an experience!).

In this post, I really wanted to focus on my parent’s current endeavor called Thunderbird Farms, which is a self-sustaining farm in the heart of Southern Alberta on the Blood Tribe. I visited in April to see what they had been up to, since they have just recently gotten back on their land after being forced to relocate due to a grass fire in 2012. They had quite the set-up going on however! They had their greenhouse up and functioning, with lots of sprouts happening (my mom is even growing bath loofas! Unbelievable right?); they also had their raised garden beds and compost built and the starting of a potato field. It was quite the site! Here are some pictures from that visit:

Since then, they have been even busier, with a new partnership with the Aboriginal Aquaculture Association (even receiving a grant for more investments in their business!) and many more improvements to their greenhouse and garden areas. They were even able to put up their solar panels and battery supply during the month of May as well! They’ve had great help from members of the Lethbridge and Blood Reserve communities, receiving plant splices, help with insulating the greenhouse and even planting the rows of potatoes my mother wanted! I’m so excited to see the harvest later this summer and also the progress that they will start to make on their home! Thanks to my brother and mother posting pictures online, I never miss a beat! Here are some of their most recent progress pictures – all of this occurred within a month and a half of my last visit! It’s great! They still need a lot of help though and volunteers to re-build their home and future business site, you can get in touch with them here. It can be difficult doing all of this work with only a team of 3! If my words alone don’t convince you, here’s the progress pics (imagine being a part of this!):

Even though my parent’s have a lot going on with their business, they still found time to make it to my graduation ceremonies in Vancouver and twice in Calgary; I’m so grateful to have such hardworking parents who still make time to share in my accomplishments as well, even if it means putting work on hold for a few days (but I think they needed the break!). We had a great time in Vancouver, and my dad was even able to meet with his new partners face to face (such an entrepreneur! Always working!).

I hope you enjoyed this post on the progress that my parents are making with their aquaculture endeavors. Their entrepreneurial story is so rich and has spanned many years, and working with my father, I hope to bring you even more stories on their progress and how they came to the idea of bringing aquaculture to the bald prairies. Also, look out for my next post on the sights (and tastes) I experienced in Vancouver! One of the biggest highlights was sitting down with the owner of Salmon N’ Bannock and learning more about their business journey! I also ended up at a sweet spot I want to share more information on, a place you should definitely check out if you are in the East Vancouver area! Here’s a pretty photo I got of Mt. Baker to tide you all over! 😉

DSCF9744

Kitakitamaatsin,

Cheyenne