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Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund

Friday, August 18, 2017
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Community Futures Development Corporation

Youth Programs

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Youth Entrepreneurship

In partnership with the Northern Ontario Youth Entrepreneurship Program, Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund is working to foster Youth Entrepreneurship ideas and innovative ways of thinking in our First Nations youth. The programs offered can play a role in instilling a sense of entrepreneurship and business strategy within our youth, particularly important as preparation for active participation in further economic development in the area known as ‘Ring of Fire’.

Nish Biz Kids

Our youth entrepreneurship programs are facilitated in partnerships with community volunteers. A train the trainer approach is used hoping to expand regular programming throughout the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Create a Logo

A program targeting grades 4-6 elementary students, by offering in-service workshops to teachers. Students are encouraged to participate in a competition by identifying and naming a business opportunity that they believe could work in their community, region or province.

They are required to write a  paragraph describing what their business is about, design a logo that reflects their business and briefly explain the meaning of their logo.

Kids Invent Toys

Kids Invent Toys ® is an after school program or a day camp that lets kids create some wild new playthings. Developed at California State University, Fresno, Kids Invent Toys ® has children aged 9-12 make mock up toys, create new toys, advertise their toys, and have a lot of fun while learning about inventing and entrepreneurship.

Parents say Kids Invent Toys ® is the best program that their children have experienced. Kids have the freedom to be creative and work with their hands. They analyze a toy to get ideas for their own toys and create a marketing plan to make their toy invention the next big hit.

Market Your Thoughts

This competition is ideally suited for English Language Arts and/or social studies and meets specific curriculum outcomes at the intermediate level.

It is the intent of the Market Your Thoughts Competition to encourage intermediate students to creatively think about enterprising ventures and to pursue entrepreneurial thinking and action.  With the assistance of the teacher, we would like to identify, recognize, reward and support the talent and initiative of our enterprising young people.  We are therefore, challenging all grades 7 and 8 students to participate in the Market Your Thoughts Competition.

The competition will involve students identifying a business opportunity that they believe could work in the province of Ontario and writing an essay describing their business concept.  Students in Northern Ontario will have an opportunity to win money, prizes and have their winning essays published in the following edition of Market Your Thoughts. Teachers are provided a lesson plan that guides them through the activity as well as a Market Your Thoughts wall poster for their classroom.


On May 11th & 12th, 22 First Nation students from Webequie’s Simon Jacob Memorial Education Centre, Eabametoong’s John C Yesno Education Centre, Wunnumin Lake’s Lydia Lois Beardy Memorial School and Long Lac’s Migizi Miigwanan Secondary School arrived in Thunder Bay to compete in Enterprise Olympics.

Enterprise Olympics is a 2 day annual regional high school “Dragon Den” style competition and this year we saw over 100 students participate from across northwestern Ontario including the students from the 4 First Nation schools. The students had the opportunity to meet local entrepreneurs, make new friends and explore the many possibilities that exist in choosing a career in entrepreneurship. All the participants pick from six different sectors that they are interested in: Health and Wellness, Retail, Technology and Innovation, Arts and Culture, Social Enterprise, and Mining and Forestry. In each sector, the students were put into teams and each team pitched their business idea and made their presentation in front of a panel of judges, along with other groups in their sector. 

The winning team from each sector competed in a final competition, where each member of the team received a $1,000 bursary for tuition for the post-secondary school of their choice in Northern Ontario. The competition is put on by Headstart In Business, which is a program that brings together 24 Community Futures Development Corporations, including Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund, from across Northern Ontario to fulfill their mandate of introducing entrepreneurship to youth.

The winning team were from the Social Enterprise Sector with their business idea “Community Basket”, an idea geared towards affordable food for low income people. Although none of the 4 First Nation schools had any of their students on the final winning team, a few of them were in their sector’s winning team: Becker Gagnon from Aroland FN (Geraldton Composite High School) for Tech & Innov, Julia Troutlake (Simon Jacob Memorial) for Arts & Culture, Shania Shewaybick (Simon Jacob Memorial) for Retail, Jonah Spence (LLB Memorial) and Brandon Sugarhead (John C Yesno Educ) for their sector in Mining and Forestry. The event was a success, thanks to all the students, teachers and organizers and we hope to see more students participate next year.

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