Aboriginal Entrepreneurship A Viable Career Path?
Community Writer, entrepreneur, and role model Lisa Charleyboy learned early in life that serial entrepreneurship is a very possible and freeing career path.
Since I was a young girl I watched my mother build her businesses as a serial entrepreneur. She started with Amway, moved on to a weight loss clinic, and finally had great success as an independent financial services provider. While I helped her file, organize receipts, and even conduct sales calls, I realized what a viable career option entrepreneurship is, and what independence it can bring.
I am now the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Urban Native Magazine, a Native lifestyle online magazine that offers pop culture with an Indigenous twist. The ethos behind the magazine is to showcase success stories and role models to Indigenous youth.
Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing demographic in Canada right now. In fact, Aboriginal youth aged 24 and under make up 46% of the Aboriginal population and 13% of all the youth in Canada according to the 2006 Census.
Between the last two censuses there has been a rate of increase in Aboriginal self-employed people at the rate of three times over the rest of Canadians (an increase of 25% versus 8%).
Despite the growing numbers of demographic trends and entrepreneurship, there is still a lack of positive Aboriginal coverage in mainstream media of positive role models.
Aboriginal youth aged 24 and under make up 46% of the Aboriginal population and 13% of all the youth in Canada according to the 2006 Census.
There are many success stories of Aboriginal entrepreneurs all across this country. Massey Whiteknife is a 35-year-old Cree male who overcame many adversities, including sexual abuse, bullying, and being an openly gay male (and a drag queen), in Fort McMurray. Despite the difficult terrain he had to tread he has become a success, owning ICEIS Group, an oil sands service business that has doubled its revenue for the past three years to become a multi-million dollar operation.
Whiteknife’s company also trains Aboriginal people to be able to work in the oil & gas sector, and with Fort McKay First Nation so close to Fort McMurray, it puts this group of individuals in a prime spot to be able to not only be employed by this industry, but to also create their own businesses to service corporations in their region.
Organizations like the Canada Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) are coming to the forefront to help Aboriginal entrepreneurs navigate the entrepreneurial landscape.
Aboriginal Professionals Association of Canada (APAC) is another non-profit organization that offers the support by creating a network of like-minded individuals to connect with and to create long-lasting business relationships.
Throughout my entrepreneurial journey I have been blessed with the support of both CCAB and APAC, which have created networks to support my entrepreneurial endeavours. I actively encourage budding young Aboriginal entrepreneurs to chase their dreams so that they too can experience true independence and enjoy life on their own terms, much like my mother showed me as a young girl.