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Indigenous

Canada‘s rich and diverse Indigenous economy is on the rise

Nicole McLaren is a multi-award-winning Métis entrepreneur from British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Her extensive knowledge of industry supply chains and economic development coupled with a passion for supporting fellow Indigenous entrepreneurs allowed her to transform a small book club into Raven Reads, the world’s first Indigenous subscription box.

Through her hard work and ambition, Raven Reads has grown exponentially, with thousands of subscribers across Canada, the US, and Europe. Once a sole proprietor, curating and packaging boxes in her garage, Nicole now manages an elite team and operations out of their Kamloops warehouse and distribution centre.

Nicole is the recipient of Startup Canada’s National Indigenous Business of the Year (2018) and the BC Achievement Foundation’s Indigenous Business of the Year (2020). She was also a finalist in the Small Business BC’s Premier’s People’s Award (2021) and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Business Resilience Regional Export Plan of the Year (2020).

Through the incredible success of Raven Reads, Nicole has invested over $250,000 back into the Indigenous economy, and donated over $2,000 to literacy programs for Indigenous children and youth. She is the Founder and Chair of the Indigenous Women’s Business Network, an organization that she created to provide coaching and mentoring to other Indigenous women business owners.

Nicole holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, and will complete her Masters of Business Administration in 2023 from the University of Illinois’ Gies School of Business. She currently resides in Logan Lake, BC with her husband and two young children.


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Activism comes in many forms with Dr. Robyn Bourgeois

Dr. Robyn Bourgeois (Laughing Otter Caring Woman) is a mixed-race nêhiyaw iskwew whose Cree family comes from Treaty 8 territory (Lesser Slave Lake). She is an associate professor in the Centre for Women’s and Gender studies at Brock University, but is currently serving as the university’s acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement. As a survivor of multiple forms of violence, Dr. Bourgeois’ research examines violence against Indigenous women and girls, but also Indigenous women’s anti-violence leadership. In addition to speaking and publishing nationally and internationally, Dr. Bourgeois testified as an experiential and expert witness at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in October 2018. Along with being an academic, Robyn is an activist, artist, and proud mom to three kids.

Learn about the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women at www.niagaralsw.ca


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Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Canada’s economy. To support Canada’s businesses, subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

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Indigenous-owned ethical, sustainable and natural hair care products from Edmonton

Vanessa Marshall was born and raised in a small town in northern Alberta. She has two kids and a loving husband. She grew up in a sustainably oriented family and taking care of the earth and its animals has always been a passion of hers. She leads a plant-based lifestyle and does her best to reduce her carbon footprint whenever possible. She is passionate about her family and business and loves to spread kindness. Jack59 is an Indigenous-owned and operated company located in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. They believe in the highest quality ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible. Their passion lies in creating amazing hair products and their mission is to provide amazing hair days while reducing people’s carbon footprints.


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Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Canada’s economy. To support Canada’s businesses, subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

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Indigenous entrepreneurs receive $25 million boost from world’s first Indigenous Impact Fund

The Raven Indigenous Impact Fund provides equity and equity-like capital to innovative, scalable, purpose-driven Indigenous enterprises. The Fund looks to support entrepreneurs who are at the seed and/or early stage. Through the Raven Fund, innovative Indigenous enterprises can access the support they need to grow from a trusted partner. The Fund represents a sustainable, values-driven approach to poverty reduction and community resilience that will directly contribute to the development of an Indigenous middle class. Enterprises are screened through a unique, Indigenous impact lens and receive investments ranging from $250,000 to $2 million. This is an interview about the reason and availability of this fund for Indigenous Entrepreneurs.

Paul Lacerte, Managing Partner. Paul Lacerte has provided innovative leadership to Indigenous organizations throughout his career. He is the former Vice-Chair of the Vancouver Foundation Board of Directors, the former Board Chair for Reconciliation Canada, and a former representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He was awarded the Order of BC in 2014.

Jeffrey Cyr, Managing Partner. Jeff is Métis from the White Horse Plains area of Southern Manitoba, the traditional Buffalo Hunt staging grounds. For nearly 20 years, he has provided strategic leadership for Indigenous, not-for-profit, and government organizations. Jeff has helped create and implement the community-driven outcomes contract (a unique pay-for-success social finance model) and the Indigenous Solutions Lab process, which earned him an Ashoka Fellowship. Jeff is a proud husband and father of five and currently lives and works on unceded Algonquin lands in what is now known as Ottawa, Ontario.


Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Canada’s economy. To support Canada’s businesses, subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

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Alicia Dubois is CEO of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, Which Guarantees Loans for Indigenous Groups in Alberta

Alicia Dubois is the first-ever CEO of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, which was created to in November 2019 to guarantee loans for Indigenous groups to facilitate investment in natural resource projects and related infrastructure.

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Jennifer Harper, Founder of Cheeckbone Beauty, Discusses How Her Company Changed the Launch of a Product to Cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jenn Harper, founder of Cheekbone Beauty, was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and relocated to the Niagara Region where she was raised and developed a passion for cosmetics. Over the past ten years, Jenn has had successful career in sales and marketing with two large international corporations. During her first week of training session with one of these companies a questionnaire asked: “What is your dream job?” Jenn wrote “To be the CEO of a major cosmetic brand.” At the time, there was no indication that Jenn would eventually set out to build Cheekbone Beauty. During the development of Cheekbone Beauty, Jenn researched the industry as well as charities that are helping close the educational funding gap that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Jenn found the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) and Cheekbone Beauty continues to support the FNCFCS today. During Cheekbone’s infancy, Jenn also suffered a heavy personal loss with the suicide of her brother B.J. This loss, though difficult, has remained a driving force behind Jenn’s desire to see Cheekbone Beauty succeed with its mission. In addition to Cheekbone’s mission, Jenn strives to educate as many Canadians as possible about the Residential School System and the effects it has had on her family and friends through decades of generational trauma. Jenn speaks regularly to university, college and high school students about social entrepreneurship, empathy and the history of her First Nations family. Jenn has also been invited to speak to various entrepreneur groups, women in business associations, Apple Canada and First Nations organizations.

Jenn had been featured in media outlets such as Flare.com, APTN News, CBC Radio Unreserved, The Kit and Global’s News Radio. In 2017 Jenn Harper was awarded the “Social Enterprise Award” at the 17th Annual Women in Business Awards by the Women in Niagara (WIN) Council and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) for her work on Cheekbone Beauty.