Advertisement.

Economy

Indigenous entrepreneurs get help to grow food businesses


Eleven Indigenous entrepreneurs from northern Canada will spend the months ahead receiving support to develop businesses that promote local food.

Launched in 2018, EntrepreNorth helps Indigenous people in the three territories grow their businesses. Each year to date has focused on a different theme, such as the tourism industry or fashion.

This year’s focus, local food, is described by EntrepreNorth as “integral to our economies, daily health and wellbeing, and growing sovereignty as communities and nations.”

Advertisement.

“Whether we’re harvesting from the land, creating a batch of specialty ice cream, or perfecting a family spice rub recipe, we’re offering something delicious and valuable to our community,” the a webpage for this year’s program states.

“Customers across the North and beyond are keen to support Indigenous food businesses and they’re ready to explore new flavours. There’s a growing demand for locally sourced products that taste great and have a powerful story to tell.”

There are three entrepreneurs from the Northwest Territories in this year’s group, alongside six from the Yukon and two from Nunavut.

Representing the NWT are Shayna Allen and Lance Raddi Gray from Inuvik and Kaitlyn White-Keyes from Yellowknife.

Advertisement.

Inuvialuk cook Allen operates a food truck called InuvikEats, provides catering, and offers cooking classes. Gray, also Inuvialuk, gathers medicines and plants and sells teas, syrups, and oils under the name Gray’s Harvest.

Graphic of 2021 Local Food Cohort shared on the EntrepreNorth Facebook page. White-Keyes is pictured in the orange sweater, while Gray and Allen are seen on the bottom row: they are far left and second from the right respectively.

White-Keyes identifies as Métis and is the owner of the Ever Sweet Company, where she sells artisanal candies and sweets. According to a biography published by EntrepreNorth, profits from White-Keyes’ business go toward “developing a safe, local, and land-based healing space for people living with addiction.”

Other businesses involved in this year’s program include a farm-to-table butcher shop, a holistic nutritionist, and a catering company that uses traditional Inuit foods.

Participants will receive mentorship on marketing, finance, investing, and other skills to help develop their businesses over the course of nine months.

“We look forward to supporting this group of entrepreneurs with new business skills to offer products that bring a sense of culture and place to our tables,” project director Benjamin Scott stated in a news release.

Advertisement.