Capital Corporations – accelerating the Indigenous economy

Capital Corporations are key and essential players within the Indigenous business economy whose contributions help generate and cultivate innovation.

As most people know, a dynamic small business sector with strong entrepreneurship is critical to economic development. But what is the greatest barrier for Indigenous entrepreneurs to meet with success? Access to capital. More than half of Indigenous entrepreneurs rely on personal savings for business start-ups. And that’s where Aboriginal Financial Institutions come in.

In BC, the engines which are providing access to funding are the province’s Aboriginal Capital Corporations. Cliff Fregin, past CEO of New Relationship Trust and current COO of Indspire, an organization committed to investing in the education of Indigenous people, said it best, “the Aboriginal Capital Corporations are the unsung heroes of Indigenous entrepreneurship in this province.”

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board’s June 2019 Progress Report states that Indigenous businesses are increasingly becoming important and innovative contributors to the Canadian economy.

Carol Anne Hilton, 2013 Alumni of the Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program, and founder of the Indigenomics Institute, comments that the impact of these Capital Corporations is “improving lives, fueling economic growth, furthering reconciliation, and providing a growing young workforce with opportunity. Success breeds success and recognizing Indigenous organizations builds awareness of Indigenous leadership, models a path for others, and inspires further success. This is Indigenomics in action.”

New Relationship Trust (NRT) provides funding to various Capital Corporations and has been a strong and stalwart partner of the Indigenous Business Award (IBA) since its inception twelve years ago.

The IBA program is grateful to NRT for their financial support, as well as for the past and current support of Capital Corporations, such as ANTCO, NEDC, TACC and Sto:lo Community Futures who have nominated strong businesses, many of whom have become awardees and serve as models for business success. In the words of Carol Anne Hilton, “this leadership contributes to the possibility that a 100 billion-dollar Indigenous annual economy can happen in the near future.”

Mr. Bannock Indigenous Cuisine

It takes a community to raise a business to its feet. One such example is Paul Nattrall, owner and operator of Mr Bannock Indigenous Cuisine and recipient of the 2019 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Indigenous Business Award (IBA). 

At the 2019 IBA presentation, Paul expressed his gratitude to the community that helped his business get to the point it is at today including his partner Kelly and the Squamish Nation. He acknowledged the start-up support received from Squamish Nation Trust “for guiding and helping me start the vision of showcasing Indigenous cuisine to the world.” He also thanked Small Business BC for “helping me plan and execute to get Mr. Bannock, Vancouver’s first Indigenous food truck.” Paul also gave a shout out to the media who helped him share his story and Vancity for providing social media and business strategy support. 

Mr. Bannock creates Indigenous fusion food that focuses on Indigenous ingredients and traditional cooking methods and blends them with modern cuisine. For Paul, it’s about getting back to the roots that First Nations originally used. “I can share this food and create dishes that showcase traditional ingredients and cooking methods while showing my communities that this is our food, and this is what we can do with it.” 

As a young entrepreneur, Paul set a goal to start his business and it took four years to get it all up and running. With the support of his family, his Nation, and business and financial organizations, he fulfilled his dream. 

 “If I can do it, then anyone else can!” 

Today, Mr Bannock Indigenous Cuisine partners with local and Indigenous businesses, Spirit Bear Coffee,  One Arrow Meats, to bring more fresh and local options to its customers, proving that it really does take a community to build a business! 

The Indigenous Business Award is an annual program run by the BC Achievement Foundation to give voice to Indigenous entrepreneurship while modelling success. The program is currently in deliberations to select the recipients of the 2020 IBA program. Watch for an announcement of the awardees, coming this Fall. 

Sam Carter – a champion of applied art and design

The Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design is named, in part, after artist, leader and educator, Sam Carter. Synonymous with applied art and design in BC and throughout the world, Sam has the gained international respect and admiration of artists, students and art educators. In 2017, he was recognized as the Award of Distinction Laureate of the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design.  

Over the past 50 years, Sam has dedicated himself to the collecting, curating, and designing of exhibitions that reflect and showcase design, craft, and applied arts within Canada.  

Emigrating from California in 1965, Sam began his Canadian career working at the Ontario Science Centre where, as a senior designer, he helped create interactive exhibits, many of which focused on Canadian contributions to science. 

Sam continued his contributions to Canadian art and design, through his work with the Ontario College of Art organizing “culture probes” that engaged students, faculty, corporations, government, and communities in various creative projects. 

Once he settled in British Columbia, Sam taught at the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design). Here he contributed (and still contributes as a Professor Emeritus) to the documentation and elevation of Canadian design and applied arts, through online history and theory courses, events, and exhibitions. As well, through his mentorship of students, Sam developed life-long friendships with artists now recognized in BC and beyond for their unique and beautiful design creations. 

Throughout all his work, Sam’s exhibitions and events have shone a light on works by Canadian designers, craftspeople, and applied artists from all regions of this country. He has enabled people from all walks of life to enjoy the diverse elegance of Canadian design, craft, and applied arts and, in doing so, has brought international attention to Canadian talent, for which he has an enduring and dedicated passion. 

As the curator for all fifteen annual exhibitions which have celebrated the awardees of the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design program, Sam Carter continues to be a leading advocate and champion for applied art and design in BC. His efforts have advanced and elevated the collective conversation around Canada’s functional art and design successes while creating a legacy to inspire future generations. 

The timeless debate between art and design

Dr. Yosef Wosk delivered a thoughtful and empowering speech to the awardees, their colleagues, friends and families at the 2019 Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design presentation ceremony. 

He spoke of the age-old debate between art versus design, what distinguishes art from design, and how this award unites them both. 

“The artist, the fine artist, the free artist, the pure artist operates more perhaps as a shaman, as a revolutionary as a transformer and as a lover. Whereas the applied artists’ work is more often thought of as domesticated, as tamed, as practical, as ritualized. Perhaps the greatest champion and master of applied art and design was Willam Morris, the author, the designer, the printer and the seller of this book from the Kelmscott Press 130 years ago. 

One of his most famous statements, ‘If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it, have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.  

There are two different things he’s brought together as we have brought together tonight art and design. ‘Know’ means to understand; it’s a rational idea, it’s logic, it’s most often related to practical design. And ‘believe’ is more transcendent, intuitive, the pure art.  

Those who we celebrate this evening are among the few, the rare, the best who are both artists and designers, mystics and manufacturers. You are the hybrid few who bridge both worlds and allow the rest of us to cross between otherwise unreachable dimensions.” 

To those applied artists who are recognized by the Carter Wosk Award program, we salute you for making the practical, more beautiful. And we invite those of you who are artists and designers to nominate now for the 2020 Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design.  

Online nomination forms are at until August 9th