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!

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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.

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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):

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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.

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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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)

Updates!

Hello my fellow Niitsitapiiks!

Apologies, it’s been 20 days since I’ve first posted! I’ve been busy trying to get my own business started (if you are into self-care, check out my Facebook page) and figuring out a few things for graduation (I’ll be in Vancouver this weekend for the Ch’nook Scholars grad – check out the page here for more information on this innovative program for Aboriginal business students)!

However, I’ve made a few new connections this past weekend with some pretty popular names within the social justice sphere and media industry here in Calgary, so I’m looking forward to bringing you interviews with them as a showcase on how diverse the Aboriginal business world is! Also, I will be spending 5 days in Vancouver and visiting the Aboriginal businesses down in Granville Island/Gastown and probably going to eat a meal at Salmon n’ Bannock down on Broadway (and try to interview owners :P)!

I’m also sending questions my father’s way so he can answer some questions on their off-grid aquaponics and farming business they are starting up, so I hope to have that post up by the end of the week, and my Vancouver adventures up the week after! Then I will be getting in touch with the contacts I’ve made so far and start on my visits! So bear with me! I hope to bring you many more posts with connections I’ve made within the Aboriginal business world as I know of so many great businesses that are Aboriginal owned and run!

I leave you now with a picture of my father’s greenhouse design he built himself from the ground up to get you excited for the post on his business! Some pretty amazing innovations going on down on the Blood Tribe inspired by the self-sustainability movement! Thanks for reading!

Kitakitamaatsin (until we meet again – Blackfoot, but excuse the spelling)!

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Oki, tansi, warm welcomes

Oki, Tansi – or hello for those of you that do not speak Cree or Blackfoot. Guessing from my introduction, you might have guessed that I am of Indigenous descent from here in Canada. I am a Cree, Blackfoot woman who has been studying business and my path has taken me on a journey where Aboriginal business here in Canada has been something I’ve been considering a lot lately.

Being a part of the Ch’nook Scholars program, I have been lucky enough to have more of a glimpse into Aboriginal business than most, especially business conducted on the coast. However, even though I have been going to school to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce, I still feel there are many things I do not know about conducting business as an Aboriginal in Treaty territory  as well as conducting business outside of Treaty territory.

Now that I am finished with school, I have decided to take on this task of learning more about Aboriginal businesses in the Calgary and Southern Alberta, by visiting these businesses and conducting showcases. I also believe that this will be beneficial to those business owners, as it will give those looking to support Aboriginal businesses in the area a central place to locate information!

Thank you for reading my first post – my second post will feature Thunderbird Farms, which is an organization close to my heart. My parent’s own this self-sustaining aquaponics farm in Southern Alberta, and their journey is very inspiring, as they have overcome many hardships to accomplish their dreams of owning their own Aboriginal owned business. I hope you will enjoy the posts!