BDC announces the winners of the 2009 E-Spirit National Aboriginal Youth Business Plan Competition

    KELOWNA, BC, May 15 /CNW Telbec/ - The winners of the ninth annual
E-Spirit National Aboriginal Youth Business Plan Competition were revealed
last night in Kelowna during a special awards gala ceremony. The event
attracted over 160 Aboriginal students from across the country and was hosted
by the University of British Columbia Okanagan.
    Organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and 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 took place in
Kelowna, British Columbia and involved 63 teams, 30 schools and 167 Aboriginal
students from across 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 our Government, I would like to congratulate all the
winners of this competition for the exceptional drive, innovation and
entrepreneurial spirit they have demonstrated," said the Honourable Chuck
Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal
Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. "By investing in Aboriginal
youth, we are proudly contributing to the development of our country's future
business leaders and entrepreneurs."
    "At BDC we know the commitment it takes to bring a business plan to
completion," said Wilson Neapew, BDC National Director, Aboriginal Banking.
"These young people understand the importance of taking their future into
their hands and plan to launch their own business someday. We appreciated the
quality of the projects submitted this year and we were impressed with the
students' pledge to contribute to the well-being of their home communities."

    E-Spirit 2009 winners

    The Gold Award was presented to Saugeen District Secondary School in Port
Elgin, Ontario. The students are Sammi Jo Thompson, Jodylee Johnston and
Richelle Ritchie, coached by Adrian Kahgee. Their business project, "Living
Earth Community Garden Center" is a community garden in the territory of
Saugeen First Nation. "Living Earth" promotes cultural awareness of plants
native to the area and their use by First Nation peoples since time
immemorial. As a business that focuses on the natural world and the abundance
provided from within, the winning team wants to help people find healthier
alternative ways of living on Mother Earth and promote traditional Native
ecological knowledge.
    The Silver Award was presented to Grand Forks Secondary School in Grand
Forks, British Columbia. The winning students Erika Williamson and Merissa
Kelly were coached by Laura Matheson and Trevor Murdock. Their business
concept, "The Creation Dance Studio," would offer Aboriginal dance classes to
students of all ages. Instructors will focus on teaching jigging, pow-wow and
other traditional dances of the Ktunaxa, Sinixt and Okanagan peoples.
"Creation Dance Studio" aims to become a cultural, tradition-inspired business
that connects to the Seven Sacred Teachings and is nourishing for Mother Earth
and the human soul.
    The Bronze Award went to the Kitigan Zibi Kikinamadinan School from
Maniwaki, Québec. The winning students are Jerika Wawatie and Amy-Sue Jerome,
coached by Amanda Buckshot. Their winning business idea, "Jerties Spa," would
provide spa services to the population of Ottawa. With friendly and caring
staff, "Jerties Spa" seeks to establish itself as a relaxing oasis in the
middle of a commercial centre.
    "E-Spirit exposes First Peoples youth to the current realities of the
business world and encourages them to preserve our traditions and cultural
values," said E-Spirit Elders Jules and Margaret Lavallee. "We were proud to
see the students present their projects and benefit from a valuable real-life
business experience."
    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
    Koo-kum's Catering, Gordon Bell High School, Winnipeg, Manitoba

    Best Logo
    Bear Claw Activity Center, Salmon Arm Secondary - Jackson Campus, British

    Most Original Services
    Mi'kmaw Community Heritage Site, Unama'ki High School, Eskasoni First
    Nation, Nova Scotia

    Best Video
    Tiiturvik Café, John Arnalukjuak High School, Arviat, Nunavut

    Cultural Expression
    Whispering Red Willow Funeral Home, Bonar Law Memorial School, Rexton,
    New Brunswick

    Most Innovative Marketing
    Slide 'N' Ride, Salmon Arm Secondary -Sullivan Campus, British Columbia

    Best Use of Technology
    Creation Dance Studio, Grand Forks Secondary School, British Columbia

    Environmental Awareness
    Living Earth Community Garden Center, Saugeen District Secondary School,

    Best Team Spirit
    Nish Tours Inc. Kitigan Zibi Kikinamadinan School, Maniwaki, Quebec

    E-Spirit Ambassador
    Ni'k3 (Now), Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial School, Cape Breton, Nova

    Best Tradeshow Display
    Whacky Kart Way, Wasse Abin High School, Wikwemikong, Ontario

    Best Presentation
    Unama"kik Helping Hands, Wagmatcook School, Wagmatcook, Nova Scotia

    The following schools attended the 2009 E-Spirit Business Plan

    Canmore Collegiate

    British Columbia
    Chase Secondary School
    Clearwater Secondary School
    Grand Forks Secondary School
    J.V. Humphries (Kaslo)
    North Peace Secondary School (Fort St. John)
    Salmon Arm Secondary - Sullivan Campus and Jackson Campus
    Stein Valley Nlakapamux School (Lytton)

    Children of the Earth High School
    Gordon Bell High School
    St. John's High School (Winnipeg)
    Margaret Barbour Collegiate Institute (The Pas)

    New Brunswick
    Bonar Law Memorial School (Rexton)
    Southern Victoria High School (Perth-Andover)
    Newfoundland and Labrador
    Lake Melville School (North West River)

    Nova Scotia
    Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial High School (Cape Breton)
    Sydney Academy
    Wagmatcook School
    Unama'ki High School (Eskasoni First Nation)

    John Arnalukjuak High School (Arviat)
    Nuiyak School (Sanikiluaq)

    Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School (Thunder Bay)
    Espanola High School
    Saugeen District Secondary School (Port Elgin)
    Wasse Abin High School (Wikwemikong)

    Ecole Manikanetish (Sept-Iles)
    Kitigan Zibi Kikinamadinan (Maniwaki)

    Regina Christian School

    Del Van Gorder School (Faro)

    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).

    About BDC

    BDC is Canada's business development bank. From 100 offices across the
country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing,
venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. Visit for
more information. For more information on E-Spirit, visit

For further information:

For further information: Maria Constantinescu, BDC Media Relations
Coordinator, (514) 496-7146,; Johanne Bissonnette,
BDC Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929,

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