On Arts, Business and Reconciliation

I have been thinking a lot about reconciliation; about decolonization, about life in KKKanada I guess in general. The Indigenous Arts community has seen more people outed for being “pretendians” in recent months and many have written articles on it, have had their opinions…..

A lot has happened even within these first few weeks of the new year in the Arts community. Many people are hurting, seeking answers, trying to find truth. But what is the truth? Who’s to say one’s experience over another’s is anymore right?

I hear people talk about the imposter syndrome that can come with being a First Nation’s individual living in today’s world, especially when living successfully. I guess I grapple with it sometimes myself – especially being an Indigenous person living in a territory that is not my own. Imposter syndrome is “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.”; but why do we often carry this burden as Indigenous Peoples?

Learning to live an authentic life as a First Nations individual is wrought with contradiction sometimes; we are told to learn our culture, but sometimes our culture is kept from us. It is sometimes taken away completely from us. Sometimes we run away for our own Sanity or well-being.

We are told to live traditionally, while being expected to also live in a modern world with modern expectations. Oftentimes we find ourselves in spaces where we are not really wanted, but we are tokenized and told our voice is important, while all the while we are often the last to speak or spoken over in spaces that are supposed to be “safe”. And what the hell is a “safe space” anyways for an Indigenous person?  That’s something I am still trying to figure out for myself. I do not think there can really be one in this colonial state.

I have been reminded deeply of the Calls to Action as of late – there continues to be so much work left to be done, and sometimes I don’t even know where to start. I think a lot of people in the Arts community are feeling this way, ESPECIALLY right now with COVID making it even harder on us to do the work we want to do. But that’s ok; it’s ok to not know where to start. It’s ok to have these contradictions in our life – what is not ok is how these contradictions are often used against us or used at our expense.

We talk so openly about inter-generational trauma and genocide, but sometimes we forget to discuss lateral violence and toxicity within our own communities. We often forget to discuss greed, ego, and the impacts they can have on our communities at each level, including business, government and at an individual level. Indigenous Art is a big business – we know this given the amount of knock-offs and inauthentic art that is reproduced by companies just trying to jump on what’s trendy, what will sell. Grant money does flow for projects that have big impact within our communities but oftentimes – it’s who you know in this business that actually dictates how well you’ll do. And that’s just facts.

This blog started out as a way to highlight Indigenous business in the West, but what I came to find is that so many small business owners start off as Artists. When I was going through university, it was the time of Idle No More, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a lot of truths came to light – truths I always knew from my childhood. I was doing a lot of work in the Corporate world and saw gaps, gaps that were eventually confirmed through the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. However, even within the Commission Calls to Action – business and reconciliation almost seemed like an after thought. But isn’t business essential to economy, which is essential to government, and a country in general?

The call reads as follows:

“92. We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
  • Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
  • Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”

Technically UNDRIP has only been adopted by one government – the BC government. They have gone the farthest through passing Bill 41 in November 2019. “This legislation used ambiguous language, saying on the one hand that the government must take all necessary steps “to ensure the laws of British Columbia are consistent with the Declaration,” and on the other hand that “nothing in this Act is to be construed as delaying the application of the Declaration to the laws of British Columbia.”

Many Indigenous advocates interpreted Bill 41 as having adopted UNDRIP and FPIC and having made the latter the law in British Columbia.” (Source: Fraser University). But has it really changed anything?

The decisions makers of grant programs, of media direction, of the narrative across Canada, well they are still often playing Big Brother – telling us how our stories should be told, when they should be told, and who they should be told by. Many artists and creatives are picked over because they don’t fit the good docket of what a “good Indian” is or their pre-conceived Eligibility requirements. And frankly, that’s just bullshit.

We artists are often sensitive, just trying to figure out life, trying to create for the pure joy of creating. But then you add modern expectations and today’s culture of busy-ness, of ego……and so many of us get left behind. We start isolating, we turn in. But I think that is one of the worst things that you can do as an individual, and especially as an artist.

Learning to see your peers as support vs competition comes with age but it’s important. Yes, there is only so much grant money out there, and yes, we all have to make a living…..but we can also support each other. We can reach out to each other, ask for help. Learn from each other. Since being more ingrained in the Arts community lately through my day job, I am learning that support for Artists is one of the greatest things in the world and can have lasting impacts that stretch from cultural impacts to narrative changing discussions that are important for the future direction of Canadian culture.

More candid discussions of inter-generational trauma, imposter syndrome, lateral violence and what supports are out there should always be at the forefronts in our Indigenous communities. Living authentically as an Indigenous person shouldn’t come with imposter syndrome – if anything the ones who are using our histories and stories against us or for their own gain are the real imposters. You, Indigenous Artist, whether established, whether just starting out, well you matter. Your experience matters. Your STORY matters – please continue to share it with the world.

All of this other stuff does not matter in the big scheme of things – just keep doing you and forget the world from time to time. We need your experience and your experience matters just as much as the next person’s.

We are here to support you, just ask. Just reach out.

Much Love to the Arts Community across Canada,


The Why Behind Indigenous Busy-ness

Oki! Tansi! Welcome back to our blog – we hope in 2021 to post more frequently (oh I know, I say that every year)….but honestly, we mean it!!! You may have noticed though that I have closed my shop for the time being – don’t worry, we will be back in about a month, but this is a much needed break I am taking so that I can create new art and product lines!

The past couple years have seen a lot of changes, and if you’ve been following us since we began in 2016, you were privy to many of those changes and challenges that came along with my entrepreneurial journey. I am happy to tell you that I am finally feeling more settled and feeling like my passion project (i.e. this blog) is giving me passion again lol. For awhile there, it was tough figuring everything out, but we see a light at the end of the tunnel and our aspirations are slowly coming along. Thank you for all of your support on this journey!

I think when people first see my business though, they don’t quite understand it. What am I trying to accomplish here? Well, that’s a loaded question. Indigenous Busy-ness is what I call my “passion project”. Well what is a passion project? By definition – “A passion project is an activity or endeavor you pursue because it inspires you and gives you deep satisfaction, fulfillment, and engagement. It’s something you pursue for the sheer joy of it. The love of what you are doing outweighs any other considerations.”

In addition to often working full-time, I run this small arts business that’s come to be known as Indigenous Busy-ness. Well, how did I start this project and what is this project all about? It started with self-care…..ForSelf was my initial self-care and wellness business that I started back in 2016 as a way to connect to my culture/community and to share Blackfoot plant knowledge that was handed down to me. It started off with me creating self-care packages for those in recovery from addictions, and it grew from there. I have always been interested in Wellness and Self-care from a young age, as I know this is what has helped me to overcome trauma and addictions in my own life and this is what I tried preaching to others.

Doing this work for my community filled me with pride and I continued offering this service until 2017 when I moved to BC. From then, I was working full-time in banking but had started my blog Indigenous Busy-ness, a place to show case Indigenous Businesses and it was a project that was meant to help me understand more about doing business as an Indigenous person in Canada, as I had just graduated from University and knew nothing, despite having a background in business. I shut down my self-care business for the time being to focus on my new career in BC, and the blog also suffered as I didn’t post regularly during the time I was in transition from province to province.

As I got more involved in the Banking world and the First Nations financial world, I started to notice gaps – particularly when it came to financial literacy and entrepreneurism. I also noticed that many Indigenous entrepreneurs were often Artists, and that particularly they often struggled with the aspects of running and operating a small business. Many of us are just trying to create better lives for our families, to contribute to the monthly household income, or to promote and share our cultures with others. Many of us have turned to Art for healing, and the pure joy that comes from creating often outweigh the negatives for us. That is when I decided to revise the blog into what it is today and decided to start sharing my own artwork, which included me bringing back those bathbombs everyone loves!

Indigenous Busy-ness has now become a place for Wellness and Indigenous Entrepreneurship. Wellness today is such a buzz word – but what does it actually mean for an Indigenous person living in today’s world? Well, it is different for each of us. But what we have found is that we can focus on what gives us passion – hence why we continue to practice our passion project and seek out ways to grow our project. For us, as an Indigenous woman, Wellness looks like continuing to practice our traditions and our culture, it looks like helping others; within these colonial constructs, Wellness also looks like financial security to me. Therefore, given these guides as to what I’d like my life to be, our passion project came to be what it is today.

We focus on Wellness through Art, Entrepreneurship, and Financial Literacy, because this is what has allowed us as an Indigenous Woman to begin healing from past traumas and to see a light in the future. Our 4 pillars guide the direction of our business and are Collaboration, Empowerment, Sustainability, and Tradition. Through these 4 pillars, we are reminded of our purpose for being. Wellness will never look the same for everyone, but through sharing and opening our minds to what is out there, we can begin to find a way to heal from within.

Our current society focuses so much on Busy-ness; to be busy is the end all be all, but here at Indigenous Busy-ness, we take a different approach. We focus on slowing down, returning to nature, and building community. In the corporate world, I lost myself to greed, burn-out, and expectations of others, but with Art I have begun to heal again.

Art has always been my healer, but I haven’t always shared it with others. My Shop on this site is a way to share my creations with others, while also providing a pathway to financial independence and gives me a place from which I can help others. I attempt to give back 10% of my profits to worthwhile causes; this year we were able to support a few families with emergency funds and also gave a donation to the Calgary Bear Clan. For all of your support, I am so thankful as it allows me to also give back.

So in 2021, my goal is to continue sharing wellness tips, new art, and new blogs with you all! If you’re a business who wants to collaborate on a blog, please contact us! If you’re an artist who wants to work on a piece together, or needs a place to post items, get in touch with us! If you’re a supporter of Indigenous Business in Canada, we thank you!

We are excited for the future – but with growth comes change. When our shop re-opens you may notice a few changes, but please keep in mind that this is what is required for me to continue offering these services to the community. To help ease the pain of the changes, if you’re reading this blog, you can use discount code BUSY for up to 10% off your total purchase (no limits!). We thank you all for reading this blog and supporting our little passion project <3.

Artist Highlight – Charlene Johnny supports RainCity Housing in Vancouver, BC

Charlene Johnny is a Vancouver-based multi-disciplinary artist from the Cowichan (Qu’wutsun’) Nation, which is located on Vancouver Island, BC. She specializes in murals, graphics, jewelry, painting and photography.

I recently got the chance to see her in action at the beginning of October! Check out this little video I made of her in her zone! It was wonderful seeing her process in action:

Charlene was painting these bags not just for fun, but to give back to the community in which she lives and works. She partnered with Fjällräven in Kitsilano (you know – the really cool and sturdy bags! See pic below for reference!) to bring this project to the community to help support the RainCity Housing for LGBTQ2S youth.

Proceeds from a silent auction that runs until the end of day SUNDAY OCTOBER 25TH will all go to this Vancouver-based organization that helps house vulnerable LGBTQ2S+ youth who are at risk of homelessness. You can learn more about Raincity here.

Bids will be accepted until end of day Sunday, October 25th, so there is still time to get your bid in! You can place a bid in store at 1976 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC or via telephone/email per below:

Store phone number: 778-379-6057
Store Email: vankitsretail@fjallraven.us

This is a great way for art collectors or lovers to own an authentic piece of Coast Salish art from an up and coming female artist! Not to mention, the durability of the Fjällräven bags is unmatched!

We hope you enjoyed this short artist highlight for Charlene! Indigenous Busy-ness is actively networking and reaching out to bring you more blogs like this of cool Artists and businesses you need to check-out!

To follow more of Charlene’s work, you can follow her on Facebook or Instagram; she currently has a give-away for one of her uniquely designed face-masks going on now!

Be sure to give her a like and a follow and check out her Etsy page!



Facebook Page

Etsy Page

Earth Day 2020 – Food Security & Germinating Lemon Seeds

Oki, Tansi Niiksokwaiks,

With Earth Day fast approaching (April 22nd), I wanted to share a couple updates with you regarding the Kainai Ecosystem Protection Association and about food security.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the annual KEPA Summit has been cancelled for 2020. However, don’t worry! Our working group is currently discussing ways to keep the public interested in our work until 2021 when we can return to having our annual Summit. This is such a great event, so we hope that you will join us for it in 2021! Many people don’t know this, but I was part of the planning and event coordination in 2019, when we were able to bring a spotlight to food security in Kainai through our Planting Seeds in Napi’s Territory event. Here’s some photos from that time:

Anyways, I wanted to share a quick video on some seed germination I am doing. Here’s a project I first did back in 2018 – I started growing a lemon tree. Unfortunately, when I moved back to Alberta from BC, my little tree died off due to the cold and not getting enough water, but here is a picture of it’s happier times lol. It will take about 2-3 years for your little lemon tree to start growing fruit. Make sure you are re-potting the plant when it gets too big, but not too frequently, especially in the beginning stages:

If you are interested in starting this project with your kids, here’s a how to video – stay tuned for part 2 as well on YouTube. You can find us on YouTube by following the link on our home page or by searching Indigenous Busy-ness on YouTube:

Food security is a big topic right now, especially for First Nations Communities. It is important that we start to look at our own habits, and where we are sourcing our food from. The best way to become food secure is to learn to forage yourself, or to grow your own food. I know that once I started learning to grow my own food, things changed for me, and I will never look back! Ps – it’s almost berry season here in BC! Stay tuned for more food foraging blogs and vlogs :).


Kitakiitamaatsin (until next time),


Self Portraiture, Pt. 1

Photos mainly taken by myself and @rabbits_photos_portfolio – find him on Instagram. Destin R.Rabbit is helping me with my photo series “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” – look out for a longer blog post from us on how to get involved with the project. Some of these photos will be included in that series, but here’s a sneak peek of the ones of me.

PS – still seeking writers for my Identity Blog.

K thanks, bye:







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 grandpa]

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!


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!


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.



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):


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:


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 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.