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									BDC ABoriginAl BAnking | issue 18 | 2011




   Dreams
   in
   Motion
   kelseY Holness
   Striking a Balance

   AMBer george
   Verve Hair Lounge

   Aboriginal Post
   Secondary Students
                                                                          in tHis issue
       Business Development Bank of Canada
       Aboriginal Banking
       155 Carlton street, suite 220
       Winnipeg, Manitoba r3C 3H8

       bdc.ca




                                                                           03
                                                                           LINSAY WILLIER &

Welcome                                                                    JAMES JONES
                                                                           Dreams in Motion



                                                                           06
We are excited about the young people featured in this issue of Soar
magazine and know that you will be intrigued by their journeys. A
new column gives our readers insight into the lives of Aboriginal post-
secondary students. We hope it will inspire youth across canada
who are considering post-secondary studies.                                JEFF WARD
                                                                           Journey to entrepreneurship
The cover story features our 2011 e-Spirit Awards Gala masters of



                                                                           08
ceremonies. What a dynamic duo the Dreams in motion partners
were! linsay Willier, who was the first runner-up on “canada's Next
Top model,” and James Jones, who was the first Aboriginal
competitor on “So You Think You can Dance canada,” brought
their star power to moncton in may.                                        KELSEY HOLNESS
                                                                           striking a Balance
As always, we are grateful to the young entrepreneurs



                                                                           09
(Amber George, Jeff Ward and Darrick Baxter) who have shared
their accomplishments, struggles and advice with other young
entrepreneurs in these pages. These three successful entrepreneurs
have embraced technology to move their businesses forward.
                                                                           ABORGINAL POST-
In addition to those profiles, we also feature stories on Kelsey           SECONDARY STUDENTS
Holness and melissa Victor, two young women who are achieving


                                                                          12
excellence and balance in their personal and academic lives—
something everyone can aspire to.

This issue is full of interesting people and stories that we hope you
will enjoy.                                                                MELISSA VICTOR
Aaron Rae
                                                                           leadership, loving, learning



                                                                          14
editor


soAr Magazine is always seeking exceptional Aboriginal youth
to feature. if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues,               AMBER GEORGE
please contact Aaron rae at aaron.rae@bdc.ca.
                                                                           Verve Hair lounge



                                                                          16
                                                                           DARRICK BAXTER
                                                                           igniting Change
                  CoVer storY




Dreams   IN moTIoN
 linsay Willier of “canada’s
 Next Top model” and James
 Jones of “So You Think You
 can Dance canada”




                  SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC   3
                                                                   Since appearing on “canada’s Next
                                                                       Top model,” linsay Willier has
                                                                           found that taking risks can often
                                                                             pay big dividends. Born and
                                                                              raised in the small Aboriginal
                                                                              community of Sucker creek,
                                                                              Alberta, linsay grew up in a
                                                                            close family environment—a
                                                                         “tight unit,” to use her words.
                                                          Having this strong support system taught her
                                                     the importance of family and community, but it also
                                             made the prospect of leaping into the outside world all the
                                   more frightening.

                              But leap she did. one month after her 18th birthday, she headed out on her
                          own, making her way to edmonton to follow her dreams. Aside from actively
                          pursuing her interest in the fashion world, linsay worked to support herself and
                          also enrolled at Grant macewan University, studying child and youth care.

                           Then, one day, she got the call: she had made the cut for “canada’s Next
                            Top model”!

                                 The filming process took an exhausting six weeks; linsay describes the
                                  experience as “fun, stressful, beautiful and nerve wracking.” Despite this
                                   hectic lifestyle, linsay says, “Nothing worthwhile comes easy. It takes
                                    hard work and commitment, but the rewards make it all worth it.”

                                      When all was said and done, linsay made it all the way to the finals.
                                      She certainly demonstrated that she has what it takes, as evidenced
                                       by the fact that nowadays she frequently gets recognized while
                                        walking down the street. Not only that, but all of this exposure
                                        has helped her advance her career in a number of ways. For
                                        instance, she also competed in miss Universe canada 2011.
                                        Despite all this newfound attention, and although her life has
                                       changed considerably, she tries to remain as true to her origins
                                          as possible.

                                             When asked whether she has any advice for her young fans,
                                             she notes that it’s important to diversify your interests. “Don’t
                                            put all your eggs into one basket,” she says. even during the
                                         filming of “canada’s Next Top model,” she continued with her
                                        education, and she recently finished her degree. For linsay, goal
                                        setting is vital. She maintains that achieving goals, however small,
                                        will increase your self-esteem and give you the strength to keep
                                        moving forward.

                                      So what followed for linsay? Well, she took the next step somewhat
                                     unwittingly one day, while simply chatting with a friend. That friend just
                                    happened to be James Jones, who had gone down a path similar to
                                   linsay's, as he was a finalist on “So You Think You can Dance canada.”




4   SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC
   ‘Don’t let success go to your head, and don’t let failure
   go to your heart.’ That’s just one of the things that has
   helped me stay centred and humble.

James, a member of the Tall cree First Nation, put his      it the right way. I like to say: ‘Don’t let success go to
dancing skills to such impressive use that he became        your head, and don’t let failure go to your heart.’
the first Aboriginal person to make it to the finals on     That’s just one of the things that has helped me stay
“So You Think You can Dance canada.” However,               centred and humble.”
he faced some serious challenges shortly after this
impressive achievement. In march 2010, he suffered          When asked about their thoughts for the future,
tears to the Acl and mcl ligaments in his knee, and         linsay and James both express a desire to expand the
his dancing career came to a screeching halt.               company in a variety of ways. They plan on bringing in
                                                            other artists and speakers so that they can spread
“I had surgery in July and, not being able to dance, I      their message to as many people as possible.
just worked on other components of my life. This is         Furthermore, they hope to bring Dreams in motion
when I became more focused on starting my own               to eastern canada sometime in the near future and,
business.”                                                  eventually, to the United States as well.

This is where linsay came in. James and linsay had          But, for now, they’re just taking it one step at a time.
actually already toyed with the idea of starting their      James, especially, is taking some time for himself, as he
own company together, but they had merely                   is now able to start dancing again. With his knee fully
mentioned the idea in passing at first. Now it began to     healed, he’s back to performing.
snowball into something bigger.
                                                            As far as Dreams in motion is concerned, there is little
“Both of us had just finished doing our TV shows,”          doubt, from their initial success, that both James and
James says, “and we decided to combine our efforts          linsay found the right dance partner in each other.
to create a business. We wanted to do something
geared toward youth empowerment. We’re both
performers, so we decided to focus our business on              to learn more about Dreams in Motion, visit
visiting various communities and schools to give                               www.thedreamsproject.com
workshops to inspire and guide young people. In that
sense, linsay’s degree in child and youth care has
been a great help.”

Hence, their company, Dreams in motion, was born.

Dreams in motion has now made its way through
a number of schools and communities in Western
canada, providing inspiration and support where                       Are YoU looKING
                                                                      To STArT A BUSINeSS?
it can.

“Here’s one of the biggest pieces of advice I have,”
offers James. “If you have an idea, if you have a dream,              our growth Capital for Aboriginal Business
if you have a goal, the only way you’re going to
achieve it is by at least trying. But you also have to do             (gCAB) loan provides funds for start-up
                                                                      businesses and can be used in conjunction
                                                                      with BDC’s other long term lending and
                                                                      consulting services.
         in His
       oWn WorDs




               JoUrNeY to
entrepreneurship                            BY JeFF WArD




                          I am a website and web
                          application designer currently
                          living on Vancouver Island. I
                          am the proud father of two
                          exceptionally amazing boys
                          (ages one and five) and lucky
                          husband to my amazing wife,
                          robyn—all of whom are the
                          biggest supporters of all my
                          business endeavours.
6   SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC
I work from home developing web-based software that
empowers people to create some really great things and            The entrepreneurial bug bit me
communicate online. my company, Animikii Inc., is in its
eighth year of business and has been experiencing year-           at a young age, though. I can
over-year growth.
                                                                  remember at the age of 11
The entrepreneurial bug bit me at a young age, though. I
can remember at the age of 11 gathering my friends to             gathering my friends to create a
create a car wash at the end of my road. looking back, I
can see that even a simple business such as this requires         car wash at the end of my road.
implementation of some of the most basic business
principles: marketing, customer service and, above all,
profitability. one main business element I learned at this     website-building software—all of which runs on the web
young age was that, at the end of the day, you need to         with no need to install software on a computer other
make sure that you have more money coming in than              than a web browser.
going out. Without that, you’re not running a business.
                                                               After moving back to canada, I incorporated my
my journey to entrepreneurship continued throughout            company as Animikii Inc. in 2003 and have been building
junior high and high school. In Grade 10, somebody             websites and web applications since.
actually paid me money to make them a website, and
from then on, I knew I wanted to be in business for            Skipping forward to 2010, I won an Aboriginal Business
myself. At the age of 17, I registered my first business and   Award in British columbia for Aboriginal Business of the
continued spending my evenings and weekends learning           Year in the one- to two-person category. It was a great
all that I could about web design and building                 honour to be recognized by my community and to be
relationships with my first clients—some of whom I still       presented with the award by B.c. Premier Gordon
do business with today! running a business out of high         campbell.
school was a challenge but worthwhile. I had to find
enough time to get my schoolwork done and manage               2011 turned out to be an exciting year. I co-authored a
my client work. I planned out the rest of my high school       business book with my brother (and hypnotist) Scott
courses so that I could take a semester off in Grade 12        Ward. The book contains bite-sized essays with tips and
to do web design.                                              tricks that we have learned in building successful
                                                               businesses.
In 1999, I ended up moving down to california’s Silicon
Valley at the height of the dot-com bubble. This gave me       I regularly speak at conferences about technology, youth
the experience I needed to build large-scale web               business and Aboriginal entrepreneurship. I love hearing
applications. A web application is software that run inside    business ideas and I enjoy mentoring young
the browser. I have designed online training software,         entrepreneurs. If I can help out in any way, please send
communications applications, financial software and            me an e-mail.


                                                                                                  www.animikii.com
                                                                                                  jeff@animikii.com




                                                                                                          SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC   7
             in Her
           oWn WorDs




STrIKING a
balance                                                     BY kelseY Holness



I know my journey has only begun,
but working at BDc has already made
my education more meaningful. As an
intern with BDc Aboriginal Banking,
I had learned a lot and recognized all
the good things our people are doing.
I am also grateful to have been a part of the     and shows me how much power one can
well-known e-Spirit initiative; I think it will   have as part of the community and as an
be a wonderful stepping stone for the youth       individual.                                        ABorginAl reCruitMent
involved.

my internship quickly took a new direction
                                                  By exploring the field of business, I hope to
                                                  attain a Bachelor of commerce degree and           SUmmer
                                                                                                     STUDeNT
when I began working with the BDc                 build on it to explore various specializations,
Winnipeg West Business centre. Being              such as Aboriginal business studies,
involved in the mainstream environment            management of organizations, marketing
and working as a client relationship officer
has given me added business administration
                                                  and entrepreneurship. once I graduate and
                                                  begin my career, I feel that I will be able to     AND
                                                                                                     INTerNSHIP
skills. Aside from all the hard work we do,       help youth by sharing my experience and
the amazing people at BDc still find a way        showing them that education is the
to make work fun, and I am most thankful          foundation of your life; it can take you
for that. I have not only felt welcome to the
team but also have been treated like a friend
                                                  anywhere you need to go.
                                                                                                     ProGrAm
by almost everyone I have met.                    Attending university for me is not as easy as
                                                  the ABc's, as there are so many different          BDC is looking for
BDc has opened many doors for me and              options that it is difficult to choose just one!   Aboriginal business
has helped me to get a better grasp of the
business environment; this is a major
                                                  I would love to explore a lot of fields, but
                                                  then I would be in university forever. I have
                                                                                                     students for our national
benefit for me as a third-year student at the     always had an interest in nutrition, in            internship program.
University of manitoba. I am currently            addition to business, so obtaining a Bachelor
enrolled in the Access Program and the            of Science degree is also on my mind.              For more information,
Aboriginal Business education Partners at         combining business with health, I know I           visit bdc.ca and look for
the Asper School of Business. Being
exposed to the cultural environment and
                                                  will find a balance that will benefit me and,
                                                  hopefully, my community. I believe that it is
                                                                                                     the posting in the
seeing fellow students succeed motivates          not enough for one of us to succeed; we            careers section.
me to participate in First Nations programs       have to help other generations succeed, too.

8   SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC
                                               interVieW



                   1




ABoriginAl
  post-secondary students
BY AAron rAe




                                                  FroM leFt to rigHt:

                                                  1   Andrea landry
                                                  2   Dawn Seymour
                                                  3   Deanna Denechezhe
                                                  4   Jonathan mcKay
                                                  5   Kiera-Dawn Kolson
                                                  6   Trenton Augustine
               2           4




                               soar Magazine focuses on
                               Aboriginal youth succeeding in
                               education and business. Many
                               Aboriginal youth are enrolled in
                       3
                               post-secondary institutions across
                               the country. soar Magazine caught
                               up with a few of these dynamic
                               students to hear about their lives.
                               the students interviewed attend
                               schools from coast to coast.
               5       6
1   ANDreA
    Landry
    Program: Child and Youth Care
    School: Vancouver island university
                                                     now, I’ll go with the flow and see what the
                                                     creator places in front of me.

                                                     S:	What	 is	 your	 favourite	 part	 of	 your	
                                                     education	experience	so	far?
                                                     The goals I have reached and the people I
                                                                                                       lonely, especially being so far away from my
                                                                                                       parents. It’s nice to just relax and watch
                                                                                                       movies. Food and movies are two of my
                                                                                                       favourite things.

                                                                                                       S:	Do	you	have	advice	for	future	students	
                                                     have met along the way. Through it all, I feel    who	do	not	know	what	to	take	in	their	first	
    City: nanaimo, BC                                I have grown into who I want to be, and my        year?
                                                     passion for my work is growing over the           I was completely unsure of what to take; I
    Soar:	 Do	 you	 have	 any	 plans	 after	         years.                                            looked over the pamphlets and websites
    graduation?	                                                                                       of the universities over and over again.
    I hope to continue forward with the work I’m     S: What	 do	 you	 enjoy	 doing	 in	 your	 down	   Yet, I knew my passion was to help.
    doing today, as a youth-worker. I hope to        time?                                             Simply said, go with your heart. Do what
    eventually get my masters or PhD and move        one of my favourite things to do is go out        feels right for you.
    back to ontario. I’d like to learn my language   with friends and eat! Having close connections
    at Algoma University in Sault Ste. marie. For    and healthy activities makes me feel less



    DAWN                                             S:	Was	 there	 anyone	 or	 anything	 that	        S: What	 is	 your	 favourite	 part	 of	 your	




2
                                                     inspired	you	to	choose	the	direction	you	are	     education	experience	so	far?

    seymour                                          taking?
                                                     It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted
                                                     to do as a career. During my exploration and
                                                                                                       I really enjoy my program, it was the best
                                                                                                       decision I made. everyone is friendly and
                                                                                                       welcoming. I really enjoy getting to know
    Program: Police Foundations 2013                 research, policing caught my interests.           different people as I met some great friends
    School: sandford Fleming College                 Growing up my parents were a major                that are from different parts of the world. I
    City: Peterborough, ontario                      influence in my life. my parents inspire me to    moved to Peterborough without knowing
                                                     persevere and are my greatest teachers.           anyone and I will leave here knowing that the
    S:	Do	you	have	any	plans	after	graduation?       Without their support, I do not think I would     friendships I made here were my family away
    I would like to take advantage of the            be where I am today. I have younger cousins       from home. Also, I like that my program
    opportunities the college offers, such as the    and I want to be a positive role model for        offers the Aboriginal emphasis Initiative to
    agreements with other universities. I am         them. When I make decisions involving             students which provides more understanding
    really interested in studying abroad and         education, I think about them because I want      of Aboriginal peoples, communities and
    applying to Griffith University which is in      them to understand that education is              nations.
    Australia or staying closer to home and going    important and the opportunities education
    to Toronto.                                      can do for you.




    DeANNA                                           over the years I developed an interest in         S:	Do	you	have	any	plans	after	graduation?



3
                                                     Blackstock’s voice for Aboriginal children        my plans after graduation are to continue

    denechezhe                                       in canada. I admire this woman for her
                                                     work and the inspiration she has for her
                                                     profession. last year she came to our
                                                                                                       working at the hospital in the First Nations
                                                                                                       Health Program. I would like to travel and
                                                                                                       promote this program with the rest of
    Program: Bachelor of social Work                 social work conference here in                    canada, so other similar programs can be
    School: Yukon College                            Whitehorse and she gave this talk that            developed. I think large cities such as
    City: Whitehorse, Yukon                          was so moving and captivating that I said         Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto can
                                                     “I want to do what she does”. I wanted            benefit because of the large Aboriginal
    S:	Have	you	had	any	memorable	experiences	       to meet her and say so many things to             population in those cities.
    while	in	post-secondary?                         her but I didn’t because I still did not have
    When I started my social work education I        the confidence in myself to say a word.
    became interested in the history of the First    As a result of her speech that day my
    Nations people in canada. I came across          education and knowledge has grown and
    articles of Aboriginal children in the foster    I have become less quiet and intimidated.
    care system written by cindy Blackstock.


    10   SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC
JoNATHAN
McKay
Program: Business – Marketing
School: Confederation College
                                                      Plan competition in Kelowna. Taking the
                                                      course and going to Kelowna furthered my
                                                      interest in business. Upon graduating, I
                                                      wanted to enter a program that was fun and
                                                      also be able to learn a lot. Well, lo and behold,
                                                      I am now in the Business — marketing
                                                                                                          S:	Do	you	have	any	advice	for	future	students	
                                                                                                          who	don’t	know	what	to	take?
                                                                                                          I think that if a student does not know what
                                                                                                          program to take, the student should take a
                                                                                                          business program. I believe that any business
                                                                                                          program will teach you a vast amount of
                                                                                                                                                             4
                                                      program at confederation college.                   things you need to know in your daily life. It
City: thunder Bay, ontario                                                                                will also look good on a resume. Hey, you
                                                      S:	Do	you	have	plans	after	graduation?              just might find your calling if you take a
S:	Why	did	you	choose	your	field	of	study?            I am just taking my program day by day. I           business program.
Attending Dennis Franklin cromarty High               know I still want to further my education in
School, I was part of the martin Aboriginal           business, but in another part of the world.
education Initiative and I also participated in       You can never learn too much.
the 2009 e-Spirit Aboriginal Youth Business




KIerA-                                                ceremonies and watching movies. I loVe              piece entitled “Treaty 2010” which




                                                                                                                                                             5
                                                      To TrAVel, Too!                                     entailed a wampum, painted crest,

DAWN Kolson                                           S:	When	 you	 started	 your	 post-secondary	
                                                      program,	did	you	already	know	what	job	you	
                                                                                                          “medicine wheel peace-medallions”, a
                                                                                                          spoken word piece and it gave the class a
                                                                                                          chance to sign this treaty and in doing so
Program: Bachelor of Arts —                           wanted?                                             they had to wear these medicine wheel
native studies                                        Yup, chief! maybe Governor General or               pins for the day and if people asked what
School: university of Alberta                         Prime minister... if you can dream it, you can      they were, they had to tell them one
City: edmonton, Alberta                               achieve it, the sky is the limit, and you better    interesting fact about something they had
                                                      believe it.                                         learned about Indigenous peoples over
S:	What	 do	 you	 enjoy	 doing	 in	 your	 down	                                                           the semester. And that by signing they
time?                                                 S: Have	you	had	any	memorable	experiences	          could no longer claim ignorance to the
Since I am also a multi-disciplinary artist, I love   while	in	post-secondary?                            injustices done to Indigenous peoples and
to get creative and explore various artistic          my Native Studies professor likes to think          agree to stand beside us as brothers and
disciplines. my passion also resides in writing       outside of the box, so he gave us the               sisters of equal status.
and performing songs. I also enjoy facilitating       chance to create a non-conventional final           Mahsi-Cho!
with youth, going for walks, participating in         project. I created an interactive instillation




TreNToN                                               the training facility in regina,                    of my life and to be independent. my father




                                                                                                                                                             6
                                                      Saskatchewan. I am also contemplating               has been one of those people (a role model)

augustine                                             whether or not to enrol in a French
                                                      language program, as it would be of great
                                                      use if I were to come back to New
                                                                                                          and while he is no longer with me, he has
                                                                                                          played a significant role in my life by teaching
                                                                                                          me the qualities to succeed in life.
Program: Bachelor of Arts —                           Brunswick to work in the rcmP.
Major Criminology; Minor native                                                                           S:	What	is	a	stress	reliever	for	you?
studies                                               S:	Was	 there	 anyone	 or	 anything	 that	          over the past four years, I have had to learn
School: st. thomas university                         inspired	you	to	choose	the	direction	you	are	       a few stress relievers and you almost have to
City: Fredericton, new Brunswick                      taking?                                             in order to get through exam time. The best
                                                      my inspiration mostly came from my desire           stress reliever for me is going to the gym and
S:	Do	 you	 have	 any	 plans	 after	                  to join the rcmP. I believe when you have a         working out, such as going for a long run on
graduation?                                           goal and dream of achieving something, then         the treadmill, lifting weights or even playing
I am currently in the application process             you gain that motivation and drive to attain it.    basketball for a bit. It helps me relieve stress
for the royal canadian mounted Police,                my family also has members in the rcmP              and gets my mind off whatever is stressing
which usually takes a year from the start,            and that definitely had an influence on me on       me.
to the time you are chosen to be sent to              choosing my future career. I’m also motivated       Welalin!	(Thank	You	in	Mi’kmaq)
                                                      by the fact that I want to make something out
                                                                                                                SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC                    11
 PersPeCtiVe




melISSA VIcTor

leadership
   loving
 learning
               For melissa Victor, leadership
               comes through learning. The
               28-year-old University of
               calgary student serves her
               community and is the mother
               of a special needs child: her
               son robert is autistic.
But while others might feel overwhelmed, she sees
opportunity.

currently in her second year of studies, melissa is
pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in
Indigenous studies and a minor in english. While that
doesn't set her apart from thousands of others on
campus, her desire to serve her community does.

She currently serves as co-chief of the university’s First
Nations Student Association, spending five to six hours a
week helping organize events and mentoring other
students.

“There are lots of things we do, from social events to
cultural awareness week, so there is a need for what we       melissa now makes the most of every day.
do. We have really great programs on campus. From
the Aboriginal student access programs for mature             “It’s like clockwork,” she says. “I’m out the door by 7:30
students to master’s programs that promote leadership,        every morning and every minute of my day is busy. our
we’re a growing community.”                                   lives have to be micro managed or we can’t live,
                                                              otherwise.”
This isn’t melissa’s first stint in the academic world.
                                                              A typical day sees time for class, study, mentoring and
Previously a student at the University of Guelph, she had     mothering.
to quit after her son robert was diagnosed with autism.
“It was a difficult time,” says melissa. “I had to            “I try to get all my academic work done while at school so
concentrate on my son, who needed his mother, and it          I can take my son to Beavers or soccer, because he needs
was really hard. That was a life issue and I had to address   to have those activities in his life. When we get home,
it. I wasn’t sure if I would get back to university.”         that’s our time together, and I think he’s going to
                                                              remember that when he gets older.”
It was an eye-opening experience for her, as she had to
find support services for her son and they were not           As for her long-term goals, she wants to help others
readily available in ontario. There were long waiting lists   through education.
and she could not wait to get her son the help he
needed.                                                       “I want to be a mentor, be able to make a difference on
                                                              my reserve—and, if not there, in other communities,
“I decided to move out West, closer to home, but I            counselling or teaching. It's always been a dream of mine
wasn’t quite ready to go back to school, yet. It was more     to be a teacher and make an impact with my life.”
like setting the stage,” she says.
                                                              melissa continues, “I always liked the idea of giving back to
After she took a job at a calgary bookstore, the time         my community. It’s been four years now since Guelph, so
spent among the stacks of books and coffee bean               this is where I’m supposed to be right now. I think it made
aromas woke her up.                                           me a stronger person.”

“I really didn’t see myself going anywhere. I was barely      Her experience tells her that making a decision and
getting by with a minimum-wage job. I knew I had              moving toward a goal is all that’s required to succeed. “I
potential and it was wasting away. I looked at my son         actually think it’s just being resourceful and taking that first
one day and I wanted him to be proud of me when he            step toward something, knowing that something needs to
got older, so we could have a life,” says melissa. “When I    get done,” she says.
came here, I really wanted to be part of something again
in a community where I felt welcome.”

While that made the decision to return to university
easy, her life today is anything but easy, though it is
rewarding.

                                                                                                    SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC          13
       VieWPoint




         mIcHAel WolVerINe
         BAcK To
         BASIcS

AmBer GeorGe          Verve
                   HAIr loUNGe
14 SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC
Amber, a hairstylist and owner of the Verve Hair
lounge (essence of creativity) in North Vancouver,          Her business wasn’t built in a
B.c., says while her four-chair salon is all about
creativity, her day-to-day business isn’t.                  day, or a year. She has put in
She puts in long hours promoting her business in
addition to operating her salon and serving an
                                                            12 years of sweat equity,
expanding clientele.                                        learning her trade well.
Amber does her own public relations and social
media, manages her company’s website content,
does fashion work and handles the bookkeeping.           “The actual operation of a business was new to me.
                                                         I had a decent idea of what it meant to be self-
Her business wasn’t built in a day, or a year. She has
                                                         employed, but putting together the financial
put in 12 years of sweat equity, learning her trade
                                                         forecasting was and is a challenge.”
well.
                                                         She continues, “It’s like having a child, I think. The
more than a decade ago Amber was excelling in her
                                                         first year, you don’t get a lot of sleep. You work a lot
field, training others, consulting and working for a
                                                         after you open the doors. That’s when you really
major hair product company. She was even offered
                                                         get started. It was pretty much a write off for me,
a position in Washington, D.c., at a chain salon.
                                                         socially or even to just take a breather. It’s not
But, following an interview and subsequent job offer,    something that’s going to come easily. You have to
she concluded that she had taken that path before.       do something you really love to do, because then
“I was formally interviewed but when push came to        it’s not really work. That’s big.”
shove, all the stuff they wanted me to do I had
                                                         Amber adds, “If it is what you want to do and what
already done. It didn’t seem like the next step for
                                                         your passion is, then do it. I don’t wake up thinking,
me. It wasn’t really going to benefit me as far as
                                                         ‘I wish I didn’t have to go to work today.’”
personal growth.”
                                                         There is also the transition from being a colleague to
She declined the offer. “I decided if I could be third
                                                         being a business owner. She’s now in charge of
in command of a chain salon, I could probably open
                                                         three others. “It [learning] has a purpose. How to
my own.”
                                                         be a good boss is an ongoing process. You have to
What followed was action. After getting some             learn leadership.”
assistance in writing her business plan, Amber
                                                         Now that she’s mastered the basics, she has bigger
discovered the amount of work required to launch a
                                                         goals in mind for her venture: she wants to expand
business was immense.
                                                         to eight chairs.
“It can be hours of work for one paragraph in your
                                                         “our salon is doing well, and we have a lot of traffic
business plan,” she says. “I never thought it would
                                                         through referrals and our website,” says Amber.
be that much work from business idea to opening
                                                         “We operate with high standards and have grown
the doors.”
                                                         fast. In this business, about 40 percent is technical,
Amber says her experience was an eye-opening             but if you don’t have personality and service, you
one.                                                     aren’t going to last long.”

                                                                                                   SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC   15
DArrIcK BAXTer



change
                      IGNITING

Darrick Baxter is an entrepreneur in the        that, I didn’t stop to think about where         As a result, he launched a new company,
truest sense of the word. He is always          other people were coming from. I was             ogoki learning Systems Inc. Its flagship
looking for ways to succeed. He has been a      extremely high strung,” he admits.               product, Kookum’s ojibway, is an iPad
successful entrepreneur for the past 15                                                          application that allows users to record
years and, like most entrepreneurs, he has      After closing up shop—or “cashing out,” as       themselves speaking ojibway and helps
faced adversity and discovered that success     he calls it—he spent more time with his          build various dialects of the language. “In
isn’t about getting what you want all of the    family, travelling and re-energizing himself.    essence, it becomes its own learning tool,
time. Sometimes, you have to start over.        He kept current with the latest changes and      because it grows as more people use it,
That’s exactly what he had to do.               trends in technology. After his hiatus, he       whereas a dictionary or a tape is limited to
                                                found full-time employment and settled into      the user,” Darrick says.
Seven years ago, he was running a               a routine. “I knew my skills were in demand,
successful multimedia company offering          and I felt that I was ready to enter the         “The thing about this particular program is
computer training, programming and              workforce,” says Darrick. “It was exciting—      that it can be used in just about any learning
software development. His clientele             working for someone else, spending the day       environment: classroom, at home or even
included Aboriginal Business canada,            in a downtown office.”                           post-secondary. It’s downloadable to the
Industry canada, the Province of manitoba,                                                       iPhone, so you know it has appeal.”
the University of manitoba, the University of   But something was missing.
Winnipeg, and various other businesses and      “I liked the people I worked with, but there     While innovative, Darrick’s idea may have
organizations in Winnipeg.                      was something else I wanted. I couldn’t          moved too fast even for entrepreneurs.
                                                quite put my finger on it until one day I was
He was managing a successful venture            going for coffee and it hit me: the novelty of   A regional winner in the Big Idea 2
when illness forced him to close its            working was wearing off.”                        competition, Darrick went to
doors. “my team of designers and                                                                 Hamilton, Ontario, to compete in
programmers were doing all right as a           The entrepreneurial flame was                    the national finals.
company,” says Darrick, who by that             igniting again.
point was writing his own code. “We             Since keeping up with the latest trends          Although the winner of the competition was
were doing a lot of business and were a         in his industry was second nature to             a car wash business, Darrick thinks that new
happening company. Here I was, a                him, Darrick became a fan of Apple and           technology is where Aboriginal businesses
young guy taking on the world and               recognized an emerging trend: young              will move in the future. “The guy who won
winning. It seemed nothing could go             people were migrating toward the firm’s          is terrific and I want him to do really well in
wrong.” But at the age of 25, he was            products. “I knew that since there was           his venture,” says Darrick, “but I want to be
stricken with a serious health problem          something about their product line that          the guy who facilitates a change in the way
that sidelined him for more than a year.        appealed to young people, I could                we learn and preserve our languages. That’s
This time allowed Darrick to change his         program something for it that they               important.”
attitude, which in hindsight needed some        would like.”
work. “I was a go-getter and because of


16   SOAR MAGAZINE | BDC

								
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