Saskatchewan

Kids learn business basics keeping Indigenous culture in mind

The program gives young students the basic skills to start their own businesses and sell different pieces of artwork or work they've created.

'This is the most rewarding thing I've ever done,' the coordinator said

Elementary and high school students learn the basics of business through a Youth Entrepreneurship Program run by the Saskatoon Tribal Council. Ruby Daniels (far left) said she hopes to become a successful businesswoman while remembering her roots. (Janani Whitfield/CBC)

These young entrepreneurs are still in elementary school, but they're already talking about ways to make business work for them and their Indigenous schools and communities.

The Saskatoon Tribal Council runs a Youth Entrepreneurship Program which gives students the chance to learn the basics of starting their own businesses. 

Some of the projects include turning cedar planks and cabinet doors into works of art and selling bags with designs meant to highlight missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. 

"This is the most rewarding thing I've ever done," Joe Taylor, coordinator for the program. 

The students use old cabinet doors to create artwork. (Janani Whitfield/CBC)

The program started when the tribal council wanted to introduce business and entrepreneurship to children at a young age, Taylor said. They started small and now have seven schools involved. 

Children come up with the ideas and staff helps them get started if the projects are feasible. 

The students showcased their work at the Regina campus of the First Nations University of Canada on Dec. 2. The display continues Dec. 3 at Regina  General Hospital. 

The students use spray paint and paint brushes to create their own designs. (Germain Wilson/CBC)

Ten-year-old Hades Baldhead says he started selling artwork after hearing about the after-school activity and now makes a bit of money selling his crafts.  

"It's awesome, I like it because I could go to conferences," Baldhead said. "I feel like a millionaire."

My hope for myself is to become a successful businesswoman while still staying true to my roots.- Ruby Daniels

Ruby Daniels started making plaques from cabinet doors using a laser cutter to create animals and words. The 13-year-old from One Arrow First Nation then applies paint to finish the  artwork. 

"I actually just wanted to do this to get out of the house and make my own money because it's pretty hard where we live right now," she said. "I kind of want to start now because you start out small and you get bigger." 

Students learned how to use a laser cutter for their projects. (Germain Wilson/CBC)

Daniels is also learning how to be an accountant to manage her finances and dreams of starting her own beading business, she said. 

"My hope for myself is to become a successful businesswoman while still staying true to my roots," Daniels said. 

Taylor said running a business isn't for everyone, but the program gives participants the chance to understand their options. 

"They see job opportunities, career opportunities, whether it's business or not," Taylor said. "To hear somebody that wants to go into business that's pretty cool. That's that makes me and young people excited about the future." 

Student in the entrepreneurship program showcased their work at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina on Dec. 3. (Germain Wilson/CBC)

With files from The Morning Edition and Janani Whitfield