OTTAWA, May 14 /CNW Telbec/ - The winners of the tenth annual E-Spirit National Aboriginal Youth Business Plan Competition were revealed last night in Ottawa during a special awards gala ceremony. Organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the event attracted nearly 200 Aboriginal students from across the country and was hosted by the University of Ottawa.
Aimed at Aboriginal students in grades 10 to 12, E-Spirit is an Internet-based business plan competition that features 16 weeks of interactive business planning resources, including online mentorship. E-Spirit also enables participants to meet and network with other students online and in person during the trade show, presentation rounds and gala awards. This year's event involved 69 teams, 32 schools and 198 Aboriginal students throughout Canada. An independent panel of experts judged group presentations and business displays that included laptop demonstrations, product samples, promotional videos, posters and 3D mock-ups.
"On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate all of the participants and winners in this year's E-spirit competition," said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. "Our government is proud to support events such as E-Spirit, which honour and promote the accomplishments, hard-work and business savvy of Aboriginal youth in Canada. You are an inspiration to us all."
"At BDC we are proud to support these enterprising young Aboriginal students," said Wilson Neapew, National Director, Aboriginal Banking, Business Development Bank of Canada. "They inspire us with their innovative ideas, entrepreneurial spirit and community commitment. The high quality of their presentations is an indication that they are determined to make their mark on the business world in the years to come."
E-Spirit 2010 winners
The Gold Award was presented to South Kamloops Secondary School in Kamloops, British Columbia. The students are Jordann Hazelwood and Hillary McLean, coached by Mary Jean Paluck. Located on the Tk'emlups Indian reserve off the Yellowhead Highway in Kamloops, BC, their business project, "Dusty Road Cafe" is an eco-friendly place of serenity where individuals can get in touch with their personal lives, schooling and the seven sacred teachings of their Aboriginal ancestors. "Dusty Road Cafe" will offer an assortment of specialty coffees, teas, cold drinks, desserts and foods, all while looking to preserve a small eco-footprint.
The Silver Award was presented to VAST Education Centre in Port Alberni, British Columbia. The winning students Jessica Jack and Vanessa Hamilton-George were coached by Rita Sowden. Their business concept, "Alberni Creations", is an environmental graphics company, which showcases the Alberni Clayoquot region through promotional DVDs and unique art/photo cards. With personalized service, a solid reputation and a commitment to excellence, Jessica and Vanessa will specialize in graphic design, photography and digital media, and they look forward to helping fulfill customers' needs for personal or business use. Their business concept promotes the use of recycled paper and is conscious of green principles.
The Bronze was presented to the Children of the Earth High School from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Students awarded are Brittany David, Amber Fontaine, Joshua Mousseau, and Matthew Shorting. The team was coached by Leigh Brown. Their winning business idea, "Abinoojiiens boutique", focuses on producing snugs for new mothers and babies of Aboriginal descent. Made to "ginawendaan abinoojiiens abaawaa" (keep babies warm), snugs are a modern version of the traditional and authentic style of Ah tikinugen, a snug made from stronger material and sewn with bark. The team aims to promote their product through the powwow trail and their website, and present all nations with an opportunity to have access to these modern snugs.
"It's good to see that our youth are taking an interest in business," said E-Spirit Elder, Jim Albert. "It is important for them to approach entrepreneurship with an understanding of our teachings and a good knowledge of who they are as Aboriginal people. Over the years, E-Spirit has made hundreds of students aware of the many viable opportunities ahead of them."
Cash prizes were awarded to the three winning schools in the amount of $2,500 for Gold, $1,500 for Silver and $750 for Bronze. Twelve Special Achievement awards were also presented, as follows:
Most Original Name
Precious Little Ones Daycare - "Usma", Gold River Secondary School,
Gold River, BC
The Dusty Road Cafe, South Kamloops Secondary School, Kamloops, BC
Most Original Services
Anishnabe Cuisine, Kitigan Zibi Kikinamadinan, Maniwaki, QC
Alberni Creations, VAST Alternative School, Port Alberni, BC
A.C.K.X. AKA Pat, J.V. Humphries, Kaslo, BC
Most Innovative Marketing
Red Feather Bannock, Four Directions Storefront School, Kamloops, BC
Best Use of Technology
Skaabe Technology Training, Children of the Earth High School,
rePhresh, Beattie School of the Arts - Pineridge Campus, Kamloops, BC
Best Team Spirit
Lively Look, Kitigan Zibi Kikinamadinan, Maniwaki, QC
Nike'kiso'qon Wenaqiaq, Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial High School,
Cape Breton, NS
Best Tradeshow Display
Skaabe Technology Training, Children of the Earth High School,
The V Restaurant, Salmon Arm Secondary (Sullivan Campus), Salmon Arm, BC
About BDC Aboriginal Banking
The number of Aboriginal entrepreneurs in Canada has grown to over 27,000, representing a 30% increase from 1996 to 2001. This growth in self-employment is more than nine times the Canadian average. With this increased activity comes the need for a greater variety of consulting and financial services. BDC Aboriginal Banking consists of Aboriginal people who are aware of the specific needs of Aboriginal entrepreneurs, and play a leading role in the development and delivery of BDC's customized, long-term, and flexible solutions.
The E-Spirit program was developed by BDC and is supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
BDC is Canada's business development bank. From more than 100 offices across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. Visit www.bdc.ca for more information. For more information on E-Spirit, visit www.bdc.ca/espirit.
SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada
For further information: For further information: Maria Constantinescu, Media Relations Coordinator, Business Development Bank of Canada, (514) 496-7146, firstname.lastname@example.org; Johanne Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, Business Development Bank of Canada, (514) 283-7929, email@example.com