Aquarium business offers a taste of the ocean, in the middle of the prairies

Into the Blue specializes in saltwater products ranging from fish and corals to pumps and tanks. The twin brothers who own the shop even offer an aquarium maintenance service for clients.
Lyndon and Derrick Jameson opened Into The Blue, a saltwater marine life store in Winnipeg, in 2014. (Meagan Fiddler )

When Métis twins Lyndon and Derrick Jameson were 12-years-old, their family visited the Vancouver Aquarium. The result? A lifelong love for all things aquatic.

"We had a book that was like, Starting Your Own Saltwater Aquarium, and we were sold. Ever since then we said, 'Hey let's become marine biologists,' and then here we are," Lyndon said.

The brothers bought their first saltwater tank when they were 12 and later graduated from the University of Manitoba after studying marine ecosystems.  

Into The Blue

Into The Blue specializes in saltwater products ranging from fish to corals to pumps to tanks and the brothers even offer an aquarium maintenance service for clients. (Meagan Fiddler)
After graduating, the Jamesons opened Into The Blue, a store that specializes in saltwater marine life and aquariums in Winnipeg.  

They sell fish, corals, pumps and tanks and the brothers offer an aquarium maintenance service for clients. Part store, part educational experience, the room is full of open shallow tanks and the twins teach as much as they sell.

"Our big punch was, 'We want to bring the ocean to the prairies,'" Lyndon explained. "For especially young kids and young people who don't know anything, they don't get to travel that often, it's great. This way, they can learn right here which is awesome."

Their saltwater ecosystems are ecologically friendly, from the LED lights in the tank to where they get their marine life. Nothing is taken from its natural ocean habitat. They buy rock from a quarry that used to be a reef 20,000 years ago to make live rocks and most of their corals are bred in commercial vats.
Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild takes the plunge in one of the many saltwater tanks in the store. (Meagan Fiddler)

Their ocean love has paid off — last year the twins were acknowledged with an Indigenous Business Award in the Youth Business category from the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce.

For the Jamesons, their Métis and French heritage is extremely important. The signs in their store are bilingual and they are active members of the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce.

"We are very proud of it," said Derrick.

They often lend advice to other young Indigenous people about how to start a business, from helping with business plans to finding funding.

"Coming from young entrepreneurs, it's really hard to think, 'OK this is my idea as a business and how do I move forward?" Derrick explained.

He said the most difficult part of starting a business is securing funding. The two agree that support for Indigenous entrepreneurs is vital.

"It almost brings me to tears how much help you get for financial support for being Aboriginal. Lyndon makes fun of me but … when we won the award I actually started crying at the awards."