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Indigenous Woman grows agency with CESO mentorship

by Kim Jose, Communications and Engagement Officer (Montreal) January 22, 2019 Credits: Amy Kennedy

Thanks to the mentorship of a CESO business expert, an Indigenous entrepreneur has been able to strengthen her business skills as she explores new ways of establishing her strategic communications agency.

“As a young Indigenous woman who wants to help my community and be a source of strength for those around me through my entrepreneurship, CESO’s support was something I honestly didn’t know I needed – and I’m pretty sure learning this lesson was something that will aid me in my journey for many many years to come,” says Jacquelyn Cardinal, founder and managing director of Naheyawin – a strategic communications agency.

Last year, thanks to generous financial support from CESO donors Bryan Blenkin and Alan Rowe, Jacquelyn was partnered with CESO mentor and business expert Robert (Bob) MacKie to develop a strategic business plan. At the time, her goal was to develop a business tool that would expand her agency’s reach to help more Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses.

“I had a really wonderful time working with Bob. There is something really special about mentorship as a support for young entrepreneurs. There were, of course, the valuable aspects of the experience that I had expected, like focused and relevant assistance for solving problems my business was facing, which was simply priceless to have,” she says.

“What I hadn’t expected was that for the year of mentorship I was given, I felt bolder and braver to take steps I may not have without Bob supporting me. Because I knew that if I needed help, I would have him there.”

Jacquelyn, together with her business partner and brother Hunter Cardinal, plans to transform Naheyawin into a consulting agency focused on incorporating Indigenous knowledge and design into business practices of private and public organizations they work with.

Today, they have also designed a corporate social responsibility initiative focused on shifting the conversation about #treaty agreements to promote productive and sustainable relationship between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous allies.

Jacquelyn summed things up eloquently in her statement to the Canadian Senate Committee on Aboriginal peoples last year: “We believe that the way forward is not necessarily in creating something wholly new, but in reinvigorating the original spirit of the peace and friendship agreed upon during the negotiation of our treaties and using tools available to help us get there.”

CESO thanks and gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.

Photo Credits: Amy Kennedy and Jacquelyn Cardinal

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CESO thanks and gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Global Affairs Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and our private-sector supporters.