NAN members receive awards for business plans

    THUNDER BAY, ON, Jan. 22 /CNW/ - Project Beyshick partners Nishnawbe Aski
Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy, POA Educational Foundation Chairman
Aditya Jha, and Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF) president Harvey Yesno,
together with Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant and Small Business
and Entrepreneurship Minister Harinder Takhar honoured Project Beyshick 2007
participants Devon A. Meekis and Desta Buswa during an award presentation this
afternoon at Queen's Park.
    Devon A. Meekis of Deer Lake First Nation and Desta Buswa of North Spirit
Lake First Nation both received recognition and cash rewards ($15,000 and
$5,000 respectfully) to pursue business plans submitted as part of their
participation in Project Beyshick 2007 - a mentoring/job-shadowing program
focused on enhancing entrepreneurship among First Nations in NAN territory
between the ages of 21 and 35.
    "Desta and Devon are not only success stories in their own right, but
role models for other young people," said Michael Bryant, Ontario Aboriginal
Affairs Minister. "The awarding of the Beyshick Awards to these recipients
will only serve to inspire a new generation to achieve excellence for the
benefit of all."
    Meekis's business plan aims to extend the abilities of his web site
development and computer network maintenance company to meet small and medium
business needs in Northern Ontario.
    "My participation in Project Beyshick was a mind-opening experience and
gave me the opportunity to meet people and build networks I otherwise wouldn't
have been able to," said Meekis who has owned and operated FLI Technologies
since 2005.
    Buswa's award is the first of its kind based on her outstanding
participation in Project Beyshick 2007. The award will help to fulfill her
career goal of becoming a business coach in the field of Human Resource
    "My hope is the benefits of this award will be far-reaching," said Buswa
who's taught secondary school at Pelican Falls First Nation High School since
1995 with an emphasis on the cooperative education program. "My desire is to
see that this award will benefit other NAN members and to inspire the next
generation of NAN youth to grab a hold of the value education holds."
    Project Beyshick was launched in 2005 by NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy and
Chairman of POA Educational Foundation and President of Osellus Inc. Aditya
Jha. Today Project Beyshick is jointly offered by NAN, POA Educational
Foundation, and Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF).
    "Project Beyshick has been an important networking and mentoring
opportunity for many NAN members by enhancing and building business skills,"
said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "The success of the program shows the
success of our people and how only we can break the mould in achieving our
goals and dreams of success both within our communities and outside."
    "The goal of Project Beyshick is to nurture First Nation entrepreneurs,
linking the youth network with successful individuals from the business
world," said POA Chairman Aditya Jha. "There is no doubt in my mind that our
efforts are too small to address all issues facing First Nation people,
however the successes of this program and what we're working toward in the
future is definitely making impactful first steps."
    Successful program candidates participate in workshops at some of
Canada's leading business schools and training companies, including Ryerson
University, Trent University, and Dale Carnegie, while gaining hands-on
job-shadowing experience with Toronto-based senior level business executives.
Previous participants have gained valuable work and life experiences assisting
in the development of long-term educational and career goals.
    The program, which will recruit for the 2008 program this March, is
available to NAN entrepreneurs, students, and community leaders seeking to
sharpen entrepreneurial skills and/or pursue business careers.
    Some of the businesses involved in the past three years include TD Canada
Trust, TV Ontario, Globe and Mail, HSBC, Trillium Hospital, ICICI Bank,
Toronto Police Services, SunLife, Sick Kids, Yum! Brands, and AMJ Campbell Van

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is an Aboriginal political organization
representing 49 First Nation communities within James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario
First Nations part of Treaty 5 - an area spanning two-thirds of Ontario with a
total approximate population of 45,000 members on and off reserve.

    POA Educational Foundation is a charitable foundation aiming to provide
support for educational and entrepreneurial initiatives targeting regions with
specific challenges and pressing needs.

    Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund is an Aboriginal organization delivering
business and financial services to the member First Nations of Nishnawbe Aski

For further information:

For further information: Jenna Young, Director of Communications,
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4952 or (807) 628-3953 (cellular); Alicia
Skalin, Hyperactive Communications (905) 278-5500 ext. 225; Greg Crone,
Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, (416) 314-2529

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