Artwork by Ryan Newman, Fort William First Nation
In SEE, imagine a future where your community is thriving. See opportunities to create this future. Ideas for a business will arise from here.
In FOCUS, choose a business idea that aligns your strengths, passions, vision for the future, and community needs.
In RELATIONSHIPS, you will begin to tell your business story and share it to attract opportunities and resources that can help you.
Who am I?
We begin this journey with self-exploration because everything
we need to start our business is already inside of us.
” It was in the self that Aboriginal people discovered great resources for coming to grips with life’s mysteries.”
– Ermine W., Elder 1995
Who am I?‘
Metis siblings Janelle & Jérémie Wookey owners of Wookey Films, a production company, started out obsessed with the family camcorder.
Kasap Sawan, Cree speaker and performer
“I could have went and sold drugs…Instead, I took what I learned and turned it into music and turned it into selling my product, which is helping people.”
Dr. Angelina Weenie is a professor of Indigenous Education at First Nations University of Canada. Here (on the right) is an example of Angelina doing the traditional practice of naming herself. She acknowledges that what she knows was given to her by those who came before her in her 2009 article “Toward An Understanding of the Ecology of Indigenous Education”.
“ From early life, as Nehiyawak (Cree people) we were taught the importance of knowing ourselves in relation to family, and community. Nehiyaw iskwew oma niya (I am a Cree woman). Nakawacihk ohci niya (I am from the Sweetgrass First Nation). I am the daughter of Joseph Weenie, Nakawacihk ohci (Sweetgrass First Nation), and Georgianna Favel, Kisihkomanahk ohci (Poundmaker First Nation). I am from Treaty Six territory in present day Saskatchewan, Canada ”
Exercise 1: Naming Yourself
Social Innovation is about “developing new solutions to social or economic challenges. It can improve people’s quality of life through collaborating with new partners, testing creative ideas and measuring their impact” (Government of Canada).
Social innovation is an opportunity to create the change we want to see in the world through economic development. The Government of Canada recognizes the societal and economic benefit of investing in people and organizations – both large and small – creating social innovations and community-based solutions. Indigenous innovators are actively participating in reshaping systems to support themselves in addressing local and global social challenges.
For more information please visit: Government of Canada page
We hope you enjoyed reflecting on who you are and where you come from.
None of us would not be who we are without those who came before us, our community, and the earth we live on.
To get to know ourselves even better, next we’ll think about how we are connected to everything around us.
Dwayne Donald, Papaschase Cree, Professor at the University of Alberta
” What we want to learn cannot be separated from the processes we go through while learning…we need to see ourselves in ecological relation to that which we want to know. Relations always come first.”
Exercise 2: Connections
We are all connected to each other, to the land, to the animals, to the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky.
In this exercise, take a look at photos you’ve taken with a new lens and perspective. Notice the moments you captured, who was there and why the moments felt important for you to capture with your camera or phone.
Look through photo albums, your phone, your social media accounts, your mom’s fridge door – anywhere your photos and memories can be found.
Being connected and in relationship to the land, to the people, and to the world around us is a part of who we are and how we know and learn. As Shawn Wilson explains in his book Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods, “Relationships do not merely shape reality, they are reality.”
So far, we’ve explored ourselves and our connections. Now it’s time to go deeper and identify our strengths and passions that can help us on the journey to building a valuable business.
Exercise 3: Passions and Strengths
In thinking about your “I am” statements from Exercise 1 and your connections from Exercise 2, you may have noticed that you have many passions, interests and strengths.
In this exercise, you can name your passions, interests and your strengths using the tool we have provided. A good business idea will be one that makes use of your personal strengths and one that you are motivated to work on – related to something that you care about. This exercise can help you to think about what kind of business you may want to build.
- Everything you need to start and build your business is already inside of you.
- Your identity and your connections to the land, community, and the world around you, are your greatest tools on this journey into building a business and becoming an entrepreneur. Your identity, your culture, your values guide you and as you’ll learn, they can help you attract the right people and opportunities.
- By taking the time to know yourself at the start of your journey to building a business, you are setting yourself up for success.