'Fishing for ourselves': Indigenous job agency creates a window cleaning company

By creating their own window washing company, Anishnabeg Outreach has come up with a way to be more self sustainable and help fund the Indigenous-led community centre and other programs.

Anishnabeg Outreach creates AO Home Services, a window cleaning company

Anishnabeg Outreach, on Frederick Street, has recently created a window cleaning company called AO Home Services, which will help them develop existing and future Indigenous programs. (Vanessa Tignanelli/ Anishnabeg Outreach Facebook)

A small Indigenous employment agency in Kitchener and Guelph has come up with a way to continue growing in Waterloo region and beyond.

Anishnabeg Outreach, on Frederick Street in Kitchener, has recently incorporated their own window cleaning company called AO Home Services. 

They hope profits from the company will help them develop existing and future Indigenous programs for the planned Indigenous-led community centre as well as setting up shop in other southwestern Ontario cities.

In March, the province announced that Anishnabeg Outreach will receive funding in 2018 and in 2019 to build a new Indigenous-led family community centre, a first for Waterloo region.

But Stephen Jackson, who is Métis and the executive director at Anishnabeg Outreach, said Indigenous organizations are underfunded and doesn't want to rely on government funding to keep growing.

"It's really fishing for ourselves," Jackson told CBC News.

"The idea is that half the profits go to Anishnabeg Outreach for our Indigenous programing, but the other half go to growth."

More than window service 

AO Home Services goes beyond just a window washing company, said Jackson. 

The company aims to hire Indigenous students in the summer and teach them about business operations and leadership skills as students will have an opportunity to grow in the company. 

"We're going to be teaching them valuable skills in terms of starting a business, running a business and growing a business," he said.

Jackson adds that it's also a way for non-Indigenous people to give back and support Waterloo region's Indigenous community.

Some of the profits will go to Indigenous youth's education through scholarship and bursaries they plan for this fall.

Jackson also wants to take an active role in the development of the students that work for AO Home Services through a planned retreat at the end of the summer with an elder.

"As a student, we hope you come back year after year so that you can grow and develop," he said. 

Jackson said he hopes to have AO Home Services start up in early May.