Membertou Youth Council Chief wins $5K National Finance Award

As a grade 12 honours student at Sydney Academy and Chief of the Membertou First Nation Youth Council, Julian Marshall, 18, knows more than most people his age how to handle money responsibly.

Julian Marshall started own business at age of 10

Julian Marshall, 18, has won a national award for financial management. (CBC/Hal Higgins)

As a grade 12 honours student at Sydney Academy and chief of the Membertou First Nation youth council, Julian Marshall knows a thing or two about responsibility.

He also knows more than most his age about money. The 18-year-old recently won an aboriginal youth financial management award from AFOA Canada, an aboriginal financial officers association, and PotashCorp.

Marshall is one of only three winners from across Canada; each receive a $5,000 scholarship. Marshall spoke with the host of CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton, Steve Sutherland

Sutherland: I suppose you've already planned out what you're gonna do with that $5,000?

Marshall: I have no clue yet. (both laugh)

Sutherland: So tell me about your first business venture ever.

Marshall: Started off when I was a little kid. Before family events like parties, I'd draw pictures and I'd take them to parties and sell them for a quarter.

Sutherland: (Laughs) Really? And did you have the puppy-dog eyes to look up at …

Marshall: Oh yeah. Big cheeks too.​

Sutherland: Tell me about this venture you launched when you were 10.

Marshall: I decided to open a craft business and a toy business. I started selling to powwows at Membertou and I ended up just working all the time. And people always asked: can you make this? Can you make me that? And I did it. 

Sutherland: This was Julian's Jewels?

Marshall: Yes

Sutherland: So, where did you learn it?

Marshall: I just went online, I guess. I really just picked it up and started going. At first I sold suncatchers, things you hang in the window, and then I moved to bracelets and then I moved to earrings — a big seller.

Sutherland: What was something you learned to make that a success, and something that you made an error that you could have redone?

Marshall: Mostly just to manage the money coming in, and making sure you are making more than you're putting into it. Probably the error I made was not continuing. I just lost interest. You know — a teenager — and just wanted to be with my friends all the time.

Sutherland: You're involved in something called The Purdy Crawford in Business Program. What is that?

Marshall: It's like a mentorship program. It's run from CBU. They give us challenges and they're all related to business. My challenge was about tourist attractions in Nova Scotia, so I had to do a thing on Facebook about it. It was like, describe [tourists sites], different reserves — like Membertou has Heritage Park, and Eskasoni has Goat Island — and get the word out.

Sutherland: What is the accounting mentorship for aboriginal students program?

Marshall: To show us the background of accountants. Grant Thornton — they were showing us the backgrounds. You know, the fields. Next we're going to a law firm and they're going to show us some stuff there.

Sutherland: We speak to a number of young people in this program and I ask them what their interests are and I don't often hear them say "accounting." What is about accounting that sparked you?

Marshall: In grade eleven I took an accounting class and that kind of pushed me over there, [because] I got a 90, so I liked it, and I feel like that' s where I want to go.

Sutherland: But what do you like about it?

Marshall: You get to work with money.

Sutherland: In your essay that you won the national award for, you mention this gaming revenue trust that accrues for people in your community, Membertou, for young people until they reach the age of 19 and then they get it in one lump sum. Can you explain that to me?

Marshall: It continues after 19. But they only get 1,500 each year. The band with their gaming revenue, they try to give back to the community. They share a percentage of their profit and then that comes back to us. But if you're under the age of 19 it builds up, and when you turn 19 you get a cheque and then you have money.​

Sutherland: In your essay you pointed out that some people may not be prepared to handle that kind of money.

Marshall: Yeah. No, they just spend it. They don't know what to spend it on. Save it, or even invest it — a lot of people just spend it on unnecessary stuff.

Sutherland: Like what?

Marshall: Uh, drinking, other stuff like that. Some of them, not all of them.

Sutherland: So what's your plan for it when you hit nineteen?

Marshall: I plan on buying a vehicle.​

Sutherland: So what are your plans for the future? What would you like to do?

Marshall: I'd like to become a C.P.A. — accountant. Hopefully in Membertou.