Indigenous Entrepreneurship

To gain understanding of Indigenous entrepreneurship, students will form small teams (3-4 students) to research a current Indigenous business selected from, one of the companies listed below the questions or, with teacher approval, a company found elsewhere.

Students should consider the following questions as starting points for their research:

  1. What does this company produce?
  2. Who are its target customers?
  3. Who owns the business/organization or has a stake in it (name specific nations)?
  4. Roughly how many people does the company employ full-time, year-round?
  5. What are the stated goals of the business owners?
  6. Does this company harm or benefit its local community and/or environment in any ways? If so, how?
  7. What might be some of the challenges in running a company like this?
  8. Other than profit, what might be some of the benefits of running a company like this?
  9. Two stars and a wish: what are two things the company does well and what is one thing they might do better to reach their goals?
  10. Any other information that you feel is relevant.

Businesses other than those on that could be profiled:

  1. Skwachàys Lodge in Vancouver, which is Canada’s first Aboriginal boutique hotel (two links there), is a unique social enterprise that channels its profits to support indigenous artists in-residence. The hotel also runs a fairtrade gallery showcasing the work of Native artists.
  2. Takaya Tours offers First Nation canoe and kayak tours in the Indian Arm area of North Vancouver, Belcarra and Port Moody.
  3. River Select draws upon generations of First Nations experience to selectively harvest wild salmon from B.C. Rivers. “Selective fishing” methods conserve natural environments and allow River Select to harvest and sell sustainable wild salmon products including canned, smoked, frozen and candied salmon.
  4. Aqsaak Foods is an Aboriginal food products company based on Vancouver Island that distributes teas and chocolates.
  5. Manitobah Mukluks, a manufacturer of hand-crafted indigenous footwear that was named Canada's fastest growing footwear company in 2014 by There’s an interview with the CEO about how the business is growing, here.
  6. Songhees Seafood and Steam, a brand-new food truck located in Victoria’s inner harbour, provides Aboriginal youth with culinary training. Menu choices like bison tacos served on house-made bannock and wild B.C. sockeye salmon burgers with cranberry and sage chutney are inspired by traditional First Nations cuisine. The business is operated in partnership with the Victoria Clipper ferry service, with training support from Camosun College.
  7. Wachiay Studio, a screenprinting studio in Courtenay offers services for artists, schools, community groups and individuals along with an opportunity for urban and rural aboriginal youth interested in a career in art and screenprinting to learn while working alongside professionals.
  8. Aki Energy is a non-profit Aboriginal social enterprise that works with First Nations to start green businesses in their communities, creating local jobs and growing strong local economies. They focus on food- and energy-related businesses in Manitoba.
  9. airCreebec - a 100% Cree-owned airline operating in Ontario and Quebec.
  10. Nk’Mip Cellars, located in Osoyoos, is the first Aboriginal-owned winery in North America.
  11. Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge: the Laichwiltach people have conceived and built a modern, full-service beach-front lodge where their ancestors once lived, hunted, and fished the salmon-rich Discovery Passage. It features authentic Pacific Coast native architecture, art, and culture based on traditional Kwagiulth “Big House” historical values.
  12. I-Hos Gallery in Courtenay offers traditional and contemporary Northwest Coast artwork and crafts, produced by featured First Nation artists.
  13. Indigenous Tourism BC itself, a non-profit, stakeholder-based organization that is committed to growing and promoting a sustainable, culturally rich Indigenous tourism industry. This organization is an example of social entrepreneurship, specifically a “leveraged non-profit venture”.

More businesses may be found on the website of the The Indigenous Business and Investment Council