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Summer camp aims to foster more Sask. Aboriginal entrepreneurs

Joelle Seal,               August 18, 2016.

“They’re our leaders of tomorrow,” said camp entrepreneurship expert

A First Nations University summer camp is fostering the idea of entrepreneurship in Saskatchewan Aboriginal youth.

The Eighth Annual Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship camp runs from Aug. 13 to 19, at the First Nations University campus in Regina. It is targeted to Aboriginal students in Grades 11 and 12.

The aim is to introduce 25 camp participants to university life and equip them with knowledge and skills for their future careers in small business management and entrepreneurship.

“I’ve always dreamed of being my own boss,” said Callen Maxie, a student attending the camp.

“I’ve always said that, working for my dreams so I don’t have to work for someone … I want to do my own clothing line. So I thought coming here would be great.”

Camp itinerary

The students are put in groups and are challenged to come up with an idea for a business. Then, the students are taught lessons in marketing, advertising, operations, financial planning and creating successful business plans. Students then put all of this information together and apply it to their own business idea.

“It’s always amazing to see these high school students and the ideas they come up with,” said Taunya Woods Richardson.

She’s the creator and chair of a campaign called Nail the Numbers, and an expert on campus to help teach the students about cash flow projections.

Students working

Students brainstorm and storyboard ideas for their commercial showcasing their product. (Joelle Seal/CBC)

“We’ve got a greenhouse idea for Northern Saskatchewan to address food security, we’ve got a biodegradable cell phone,” she said. “It’s amazing when you let them kind of explore their own potentials and solutions, without any constraints. It’s pretty amazing to watch their minds at work and see how they respond.”

Summer camp goals

Richard Missens is a faculty member at the First Nations University of Canada Regina Campus in business and public administration. He said he hopes to have the students come in and start thinking about pursuing an education at the university.

“By giving them some experience in university, we’re opening up some opportunities for them, planting these seeds that we hope that they’ll maybe come the university when they’re finished school,” said Missens.

“My role here today is just to find out if business is truly for me,” said Jessie Brass, a student participant. “It really has served its purpose in that.”

The students will be presenting their business ideas to a Dragons’ Den-style panel of business experts and entrepreneurs from across the province on Friday.

With files from CBC Radio’s The Morning Edition

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