Eight youth entrepreneurs from the Robinson Superior region gathered at the Nov. 5-7 Regional Economic Development Summit in Thunder Bay to accept awards from Nokiiwin Tribal Council for their achievements in business.

Eight youth entrepreneurs from the Robinson Superior region gathered at the Nov. 5-7 Regional Economic Development Summit in Thunder Bay to accept awards from Nokiiwin Tribal Council for their achievements in business.

By Rick Garrick

FORT WILLIAM FN – Wesley Jacob turned his love of bannock and pizza into a tasty business idea during his school’s youth entrepreneur market day.

“I like bannock and I love pizza, so I thought of applying them together and making bannock pizzas,” Jacob says during the Nov. 5-7 Robinson Superior Regional Economic Development Summit. “It’s been going good.”

Jacob, from Pic Mobert First Nation,  earned about $115 during market day and his bannock pizzas were also a hit during the Nokiiwin Tribal Council’s Giniijaansinaanig Obawaajigewinen (Our Children’s Dreams) youth entrepreneur lunch sales event, held at the summit Nov. 6.

“(The market day) was a real success and we were able to see that success through everybody working together: the school, the students and the parents,” says Fay Zoccole, Nokiiwin Tribal Council’s education navigator. “It was a great way to get the kids involved in reading, writing and math in a fun way (as well as) having parents’ engagement. Parent engagement is a key to success in education, and we had that all together.”

Zoccole says the students did “really well” during the youth entrepreneur project. About 20 students took part in the project in each of the four participating Nokiiwin communities – Pic Mobert, Pic River, Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek and Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek – and two were chosen from each community to attend the Fort William summit.

“The market day was really successful,” Zoccole says. “I heard there were sometimes up to 100 people who came to the school.”

Zoccole says the youth entrepreneur project will be held again, with more First Nations content in the curriculum.

“We’re planting seeds — this is just a seed right now and I think this will go further,” Zoccole says. “It has the potential for kids to have desire to dream that they can become successful business people.”

Pic River’s Frances Nabigon enjoyed learning about business during the project, and she earned about $65 from sales of smoothies during the youth entrepreneur market day in her community.

“You make a business and then you sell (your product) and you keep the money, whatever you make,” Nabigon says. “You can sell jewelry or sell food and you get to keep the money you make.”

Jacob and Nabigon were among the eight students chosen by their communities to attend the summit, where they sold a variety of products such as cotton candy, donuts, bannock dogs and perogies.

“I just thought of donuts one day,” says Pic Mobert’s Dion Desmoulin, who earned about $150 from sales of donuts and wiener bannocks at his school’s youth entrepreneur market day. “And looked for a recipe and just made them.”

The eight youth entrepreneurs received awards from the Nokiiwin Tribal Council for their achievements in business after the lunch sales event.