Indigenous Youth Entrepreneurship

The National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association (NACCA) and the network of Indigenous Financial Institutions (IFIs) it represents are dedicated to supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs. We are committed to breaking down barriers faced by youth to access the capital they need to start and grow successful businesses.

National Indigenous Youth Business Advisory Council

The National Indigenous Youth Business Advisory Council was established in 2020 to guide NACCA’s efforts to create programs and services that meet the needs of young Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Chris Lefebvre

Chris Lefebvre is the founder and Principal of Bawaadan Consulting Inc., a 100% First Nation owned consultancy specializing in Indigenous relations. With over 15 years of experience, Chris has worked extensively with Indigenous communities in various capacities. His expertise includes roles at Shell Canada, Scotiabank, Mattagami First Nation, and most recently, as the head of business development for the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Bawaadan Consulting focuses on Indigenous participation plans, engagement, and economic development, bringing corporate Canada and Indigenous communities together for mutual growth and success

Anthony Wingham

Anthony Wingham is a seasoned entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable business practices. With a background in hospitality and business management from BCIT, UBC, and UVIC, and additional training at Tuck School of Business, he founded Nuez Acres®, a unique Indigenous owned pecan oil waterless beauty line. Committed to cultural preservation, he also runs, promoting Métis heritage through sustainable apparel. Anthony serves on several boards, including the BC Indigenous Housing and MNBC Métis Business Advisory Board, and speaks to students across Canada about Indigenous culture and entrepreneurship.

Lorne Jr. Blesse

Lorne Jr. Blesse is a passionate advocate for Indigenous economic development and entrepreneurship. As the founder of Kiwetin Clothing, an inclusive Indigenous clothing brand based in northern Alberta, Lorne has firsthand experience in starting and running a business from a remote Indigenous reserve. His professional journey includes serving on the Board of Directors for Futurpreneur and over seven years of experience in economic development. Lorne’s dedication to empowering Indigenous youth and fostering sustainable business practices is at the heart of his work, as he aims to uplift communities and promote economic resilience across Turtle Island.

Destinee Peter

Destinee Peter has been the sole owner and operator of Tangles Hair & Beauty Salon since 2013 at the young age of 22. Destinee has won many awards along with two National Young Entrepreneur awards and one International Hairstylist of the Year award, sat on NACCA’s (The National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association) National Indigenous Youth Business Advisory Council (IYBAC) from 2021-2023, facilitated Matchsticks Indigenous Business Women Mentor Circles, and is a mentor for Start-Up Women across Canada.  She has expanded her salon and team exponentially and rebranded in the 10 years of owning Tangles Salon.

She now has a team of 7 employees offering a variety of different services such as haircuts and colours, eyelash extensions, laser hair removal, microneedling and skin care. Tangles Salon remodeled to be more modern and to bring in aspects of Indigenous culture. Destinee works hard and knows how important it is for her to be a positive role model for Indigenous youth and women. She understands the barriers and stereotypes that come with being a young Indigenous woman entrepreneur all while being a mother and raising two young boys. An important trait that Destinee has learned along her entrepreneurial journey is never forget where you came from and who helped you along the way.

Amy Jackson

Amy Jackson, a proud member of Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, is the innovative mind behind Nativelovenotes. Amy’s journey began with a degree in Canadian History, which she completed during the challenging times of the pandemic in 2020. Determined to further her education and make a difference, she relocated to Winnipeg to pursue a master’s degree. It was throughout the isolation of the pandemic that Nativelovenotes began.

Fueled by her love for community, social media, and graphic design, Amy envisioned a platform that would blend these passions seamlessly. Thus, Nativelovenotes was born. Officially launched on April 29, 2021, Nativelovenotes quickly gained traction as a popular e-commerce destination, shipping unique products to friends around the globe.

Amy’s vision extends beyond mere commerce. She is deeply committed to fostering connections between people and empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs. Her dedication is evident in her advocacy for rez kids, encouraging them to embrace their potential and step into their power.

Through Nativelovenotes, Amy has not only created a thriving business but also a platform for cultural celebration, community building, and empowerment. Her journey is a testament to the transformative power of passion, perseverance, and a commitment to one’s roots.

Edgard Villanueva

Edgard Villanueva, a Tahltan youth entrepreneur co-owning Turtle Island Connection, merges Indigenous wisdom with modern tech to enhance economic sustainability for Indigenous communities. Advocating for systemic change, he collaborates with the North West Indigenous Council and other alliances, aiming to uplift Indigenous youth in British Columbia through innovative governance and leadership. Passionate about education and building relationships, Edgard leverages mentorship and community engagement to address challenges and foster innovation. His work at the Bears Lair Youth Dream Camps, developing youth leadership models, and entrepreneurial endeavors underscore his commitment to empowering Indigenous youth and nations through entrepreneurship, economic development and relationship building.

Nyden Iron-Nighttraveller

Nyden Iron-Nighttraveller, a journeyman scaffolder, founded Amarok Scaffolding in 2021. His entrepreneurial spirit and dedication earned him the Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur award in 2024. In 2023, he was a finalist for the Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year at the CanadianSME National Business Awards, and his company, Amarok, was nominated for the Business Resiliency award by the Bonnyville Chamber of Commerce.

Iron-Nighttraveller, hailing from Canoe Lake Cree First Nation, currently resides in Kehewin Cree Nation near Bonnyville, Alberta. His path to success has been challenging and non-linear, but his unwavering commitment to perseverance and resilience has been crucial.

“Hopefully, I can inspire other aspiring entrepreneurs to stay the course and understand that there will be more struggles along the way than there are successes. You can have all the motivation and drive in the world to plan a business and to envision it, but it takes discipline to see that through,” he says. “Being able to do the things you have to do on the brutal days when you don’t want to do them — those are probably the most important days.”

Check out one of the inspiring Indigenous youth who have successfully launched their business with the support of the AFI network. 

Inuk entrepreneur Dawn Forrest created Inuuvunga Designs to celebrate Inuit culture and way of life through infant and toddler apparel. Learn more about Dawn’s success and to find out how Futurpreneur and NACCA are supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs!

We encourage you to contact your local AFI to learn more about how they can support you and your entrepreneurial journey.

NACCA is proudly partnered with Futurpreneur Canada to better serve Indigenous youth entrepreneurs.

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